Thursday, February 02, 2017

On the Literacy of Richard Carrier Two

I continue my analysis of the first critical "review" of my new book, Jesus is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels, by the radical atheist and mythicist Richard Carrier.   As in the first part of this analysis, I number Carrier's own errors (1, 2, 3), errors ascribed to my book which I cannot immediately confirm or disprove (1b, 2b, 3b), and errors ascribed to my book which I can confirm (1c, 2c, 3c -- but so far this category remains empty).  

Criteria . . . 

RC: "Meanwhile, of his own criteria, most are irrelevant to historicity. (34) He never adduces any data they are ever demonstrative of historicity in any other religious narratives. (35) And they are not specially linked to truth-telling—all of them can be used in fiction(36)  That Jesus acts as a realistic mouthpiece for Christian values (37) (Marshall criteria (7), (9), (15), (17), (18), (19), (23)) is exactly what a fictional Jesus would do, because that’s exactly what the authors of the Gospels want to convey. And those authors were counter-cultural critics of elite values and attitudes, so that’s also exactly what we expect to find in their fictional portrayal of their hero (38) (Marshall criteria (15), (20), (22), (23)).
34.  All my criteria are relevant to history, as I demonstrate.   Ironically, at various points in his criticism, and in his books as I show, Carrier effectively concedes the relevance of several, by bringing them up under different titles and using them himself.  So Carrier's protest here is particularly empty, aside from unsupported.  

35. Actually, I do exactly that in regard to Mohammed and Confucius.  (And spend a whole chapter comparing the Analects to the Gospels in my Jesus Seminar book.)  Furthermore, I also show that the converse of these criteria demonstrate non-historicity in "religious narratives" -- that is what the entire third section of this book is about, if Carrier is right that Greek novels are all religious.

36.  Of course most of my criteria could, in theory, be used in fiction.  The question is whether they were.  And Part III of this book answers that question: "no."  Has Carrier read Part III?  Has he even noticed that it is there? 

37.  This is a complete straw man.  These criteria cannot reasonably be summarized as "Jesus acts as a realistic mouthpiece for Christian values."   

Criteria 7, to give one example, is "Does the voice of the subject stand out stylistically from the voices of other people chronicled?" 

Jesus' voice does usually, clearly and overwhelmingly, stand out.  (With some exceptions in John.)  But the voice of "Jesus" in the Gnostic so-called gospels does not stand out at all, and yet serves as a "mouthpiece for Gnostic values."   So "standing out" and "being a mouthpiece for a religion" are completely unrelated concepts.  Buddha's voice often sounds little different from the narrator of Buddhist texts, Apollonius' words are not that different in tone from other speakers in Philostratus' book, and so on.  That is the contrast, and it tells strongly (though of course not conclusively, by itself) for the general historicity of the gospels. 

The only word I might accept in Carrier's summary of these seven criteria is "realistic."  Yes, these criteria do all describe the consummate realism usually found in the gospels.   And yes, such realism does make it far more likely that the stories they tell are real -- of course.   Which also, of course, does not mean novelists cannot (at least in theory) write realistically as well, as I concede.  But Carrier simply ignores the complexity of my actual argument, the subtle, telling details I describe, and the test to which I put these criteria in Part III, preferring a crude caricature of a straw man.  His critique is, therefore, completely useless.

38.  Criterion 9, which Carrier pretends to critique here, is that Jesus always offers "surprising, non-platitudinous aphorisms."   One would not, in fact, automatically expect these from a fiction-writer, simply because he wishes to express "counter-cultural" values.  G. K. Chesterton surveyed ancient literature in search of someone else, even an historical figure, to whom this one trait could apply, and found no one, not even Plato.  Even the Jesus Seminar often finds the aphorisms of Jesus historically convincing: my argument is not, as Carrier supposes, made in a critical vacuum.   

Or take Criterion 19, "Jesus speaks respectfully to the weak, but without patronizing them, and making strong demands on them."  One might suppose, a priori, that the first part of this would be true of "counter-cultural" teachings.  (Though as I show, it really is not, even of Romulus in his up-and-coming days.)  But even in a revolutionary context, one would not expect - and where does one find? -- the high moral expectations and unflinching refusal to allow excuses with which Jesus "shows compassion for" the marginalized?  Carrier simply ignores even my full definition, never mind my defense of it, heaven forbid considering my testing of it in Part III. 

Carrier is being terminal glib.  He is being glib in exactly the same way he was glib when in our first debate, he claimed Apollonius and the rest shared "all the characteristics" I was describing of the gospels.

RC: "Similarly, the Gospels served as handbooks for missionaries, supplying them with convenient models to use and refer to when evangelizing groups and individuals (39) (e.g., Proving History, pp. 156 and 178: Marshall criteria (6), (9), (10), (11), (15), (21), (23)). And the authors wanted gullible readers to believe their fiction—until they were properly initiated and instructed in its real meaning (40) (e.g., Mark 4:9-13OHJ, “Element 13” and “14,” pp. 108

39.  Odd, then, that Acts, the first account of Christian missions, never mentions how the first missionaries used Jesus' words to evangelize -- even though, by Carrier's account, three gospels had already been written, one by the author of Acts. 

40.  Carrier imagines that early Christianity was a "mystery religion" in which the plain story of the gospels was a surface teaching for new converts, and the celestial Christ what the initiated were taught.  

Again, the contrast with the "gnostic gospels," is sharp and instructive.  Thomas and the other gnostics completely lack the dozens of historically-relevant traits I describe.  Didn't the gnostics wish their audiences to believe their stories?  They really did claim the "higher truth" and "hidden mysteries" that Carrier falsely ascribes to early Christianity.  Or didn't Philostratus, an elite "man of letters" at the court of Julia Domna, know about these strategies?  C. S. Lewis says NOTHING in fiction compares, on some of my criteria, to the Gospel of John alone.  And clearly Carrier's own analogies fail on these criterion.  Spin, spin, spin.  

Also, I challenge Carrier's theory of two levels of meaning and mystery, showing how absurd his interpretation of St. Paul's clear commands to love is.

41.   This is why Carrier's theory is unfalsifiable.  If what the evangelists say is confirmed by other sources, that proves they were copying.  If it is unconfirmed, that proves they were making stuff up.

RC: "Fiction often has accurate geographical, historical, and cultural details.  Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it does and doesn’t(42)  Like the Gospels: Marshall falsely claims the Gospels consistently get the geographic and cultural details right  (43) (Marshall criteria (3), (4), (5)), but that’s only sometimes true.  Mark made several mistakes that Matthew had to correct (OHJ, p. 459); Luke used reference books to get many details right, but still made mistakes in his depiction of Roman census law and procedure, messed up the chronology of Jewish rebellions, and outright falsified numerous historical facts (OHJ, pp. 362-63). Indeed, a lot the Gospels depict is completely contrary to the known facts, (44) from trial law to temple logistics and unrealistic speeches (OHJ, pp. 362-63, 381-82, 402-03, 425, 431-32, etc.).

42. As I point out.  But again, I compare the gospels on these criteria to ancient fiction in Part III of Jesus is No Myth, and it turns out the gospels compare very favorably to such fiction.  

43.  Carrier adds the word "consistently" (meaning "always," or else it would not contrast with "only sometimes true").   I am satisfied with "usually" or "almost always." 

44.  See Craig Blomberg, The Historical Reliability of the New Testament, for rebuttal of some of Carrier's claims about errors.  Some of Carrier's claims I find sufficiently self-rebutting, given a little common sense on the reader's part.

 Marshall is failing at a basic principle of Bayesian logic: if the item in question, even in conjunction with others, is just as expected on fiction as on history, its likelihood ratio favors neither. (45) It’s therefore not indicative of anything. Sometimes, even, the data establishes exactly the opposite of what Marshall thinks. He offers the presence of incidental details in Gospel stories (though actually there aren’t very many (46)) as evidence of historicity (Marshall criterion (8)). But studies of legendary development have confirmed that’s actually exactly what happens to legends: they accumulate more and more incidental details and realistic “color” over time (OHJ, pp. 480-81, n. 195). Contrary to how he thinks this criterion would work. It therefore might even be evidence of fiction, rather than history (47) But even at best, it doesn’t make historicity more likely.

45.  Richard Carrier is failing at a basic principle of book reviewing: read the whole book!  Part III of this book compares the gospels to ancient fiction -- I drew on about 100 fictional texts, and focused on about 20.  So we find out "what is expected on history," empirically, and without cherry-picking texts or criteria to prove a point, unlike Carrier.

46.  The gospels are full of such details, as experienced literary authorities like C. S. Lewis and A. N. Wilson recognize -- or just open the books, and read a few chapters.   

47.   One test case for Carrier's theory is Life of Romulus, which evolved over centuries, and which Carrier claimed has "all the characteristics of the gospels."  In fact, as I show, it lacks hardly any of these historically-relevant characteristics, including this one.  Details in Romulus are generally tied to (a) the story; (b) Plutarch's background knowledge; or (c) myths about names and customs which Plutarch himself mentions.

RC: "Another example is Marshall’s claim that the Gospels are more likely historical because “people exit the story without making improbable reappearances just to tidy up the plot or give curtain calls to popular characters” (Marshall criterion (14)), but he gives no examples of this ever being a practice in any form of ancient fiction. He cites only Dickens as exemplifying this trend.  (89)  Sorry, that’s almost two thousand years too late to be relevant. Trends in modern fiction have no relevance to trends in ancient fiction.  To the contrary, in ancient fiction, what was typical is for characters to pop in out of nowhere, perform their necessary function for the story, and then immediately disappear, never to be heard of again (unless once again important to the storyline: e.g. John the Baptist, Judas, Nicodemus, Lazarus, even though that’s highly unrealistic. The three women in Mark 15-16 are an example (OHJ, pp. 421-22); likewise the mysterious vanishing of all the brothers of Jesus, Joseph of Arimathea, even Pontius Pilate! (OHJ, pp. 371-75) At worst, disappearing characters who only exist to move the plot is a device of fiction, not history. But even at best, they don’t make historicity more likely. (48-54)

Carrier makes a tangled bosh of what could, were he more attentive, be one of his strongest points, here. 

Let us untangle the webs one by one.

(48)  Carrier misunderstands the purpose of Part II of the present book.  Mainly I am introducing criteria which I find initially plausible, and explaining why I find them plausible.  In Part III, I test both the ancient texts and the criteria, empirically. 

(49) Dickens serves this initial introductory role well, being familiar to many readers.  At other times, I discuss other ancient writings that I do not plan to analyze in Part III, or occasionally, jump forward to that analysis, a little.  

(50) In Part III, pace Carrier, I then do in fact give several examples from ancient fiction: Golden Ass, Life of Apollonius of Tyana, Life of Romulus, True Story, and Leucippe and Clitophon.  (Implicitly including other novels in B. P. Reardon's comprehensive anthology.)  So Carrier is just wrong, again.

(51) I had also tested several other ancient works by this criterion in my earlier work on the Jesus Seminar: The Iliad, Epic of Gilgamesh, Hercules, Journey to the West.  

(52) It appears (from these checks) that Carrier is probably wrong: most do not include this element.

(53) However, some do, including Apollonius and Golden Ass.  I therefore recognize this criterion as weaker than any other criterion in the "character" category. 

(54) I recognize, with both supporters and critics, that my works on the historical Jesus offer many original arguments.  They are therefore offered tentatively, and are subject to attenuation or even (should it come to that) disproof.  All most all of my criteria have passed the test with flying colors so far, it appears.   This one, I think, proves of somewhat weaker value.  Probably I would need to apply it to a larger number of ancient fictional texts, to determine exactly how useful it is.  If it fails to pass that test, I have another strong criterion or two to substitute, to avoid the ungainly number of 29. : - )

The point being that I am offering these arguments in an open spirit, welcoming serious critiques.  

RC: "It only gets worse when Marshall seriously cites as historicity-evincing criteria the fact that Gospel miracles are all “realistic” (!) (55) and that Jesus fulfills scripture (!) (56) (Marshall criteria (29) and (30)). These are actually criteria of fiction in actual mainstream history as a professional field (Proving History, pp. 114-17, 177-78).  A hero’s improbably ubiquitous fulfillment of prophecies and oracles is evidence the authors are fabricating the narrative, precisely to have that effect; it’s not accepted anywhere (outside irrational fundamentalism) as evidence that such an improbable conjunction actually happened (see Newman on Prophecy as Miracle).  And there is no such thing as a “realistic miracle.” (57) That’s an oxymoron. A phenomenon never documented to actually exist (58) is by definition unrealistic. And the ubiquitous appearance of scientifically implausible events in a story is accepted by all non-crazy mainstream historians as evidence of fabrication (59). It is not ever accepted as evidence of historicity(60)

Carrier's difficulties with the printed word continue.

55.  Actually, again, this is a caricature of my argument.  I describe five sub-criteria that I argue show that many gospel miracles are historically-credible.   I do not, however, use the word "all," which I am generally leery of.    

56. Carrier's scoffing at fulfillment is even more tedious.  I spend an entire chapter describing some fourteen patterns of motifs into which fulfillment falls in the New Testament.  In my doctoral dissertation, I presented a larger structural pattern into which Christian fulfillment tends to fall.  I also compare those patterns to fulfillment in other scriptures and historical accounts.   

Carrier thinks he can respond to my arguments, and then to the numerous ancient parallels I describe in Part III (but he didn't notice!) with a time-honored, Humean scoff.  Hah!  Doesn't Marshall know that real (sane) historians don't believe in miracles, or Christianity, for that matter? 

57.  Realistic miracles may be ultimately "oxymoronic" if we all begin (a la Hume) by knowing that all reports of them must be untrue.  But of course I, for one, do not begin that way - having read Keener, and Metaxis, and talked to numerous honest, intelligent people who claim (often in private) that they have experienced them. 

But even if we grant that miracles never happen, it would not follow that no reports of them could seem more realistic than others.   Indeed, skeptics themselves recognize this, by the sheer act of comparing gospel miracles to genuinely ridiculous miracles -- and Carrier, by always exaggerating the wildness of any biblical miracle he mentions, and generally mentioning the few that can be so exaggerated.   This is why the so-called "zombies" at the end of Matthew are so popular in skeptical circles.  

58. The gospels are documents.  Therefore, miracles have indeed been documented to occur (not "exist").   And of course, many other highly credible writers have also documented miracles. including two I mentioned during our debate, one a leading scholar in the field we were debating.  

What Carrier really means, and should say, is "I think I can explain away all the miracles that I have heard of."  Which I would admit -- he probably really does think he can explain them all away.   Which is itself not hard to explain away.  

59.  Does Carrier mean that all historians who believe miracles really occur are crazy?  Or merely that supernaturalism is, by itself, a strong marker of fiction?  Is an historian permitted not to be crazy, if he or she stands outside the "mainstream" -- which means, apparently is a Christian?

Since Carrier repeatedly accuses me of "lying," I wonder if his accusation of lunacy might not get me off the first and more common charge?  After all, if you mean someone who is insane, you generally try to calm him down, you don't get mad if he says improbable things and call him names. 

Indeed, who sounds crazier in this debate?  

Anyway, of course Carrier is wrong.  Many sane, and quite productive historians are fully open to the occurrence of the supernatural.   I think that would include the eminent historians at Oxford, Penn State and Washington (perhaps, though he was an Anglican) who have so kindly blurbed my writings.  Since the latter was the head of the Department of History, founder and editor of the Slavic Review, and much-loved, it would be a pity to learn he was a lunatic.     

60.  Of course I never say that miracles per se are evidence of historicity.  Carrier has, yet again, quite misunderstood and 5-year-olded my argument for his audience. 

RC: "The funny thing, of course, is that this means Marshall thinks Jesus withering a fig tree for the illogical reason that it wasn’t bearing figs out of season is realistic.  (61) That Jesus drowning two thousand pigs by casting spirit entities into them is realisticThat Jesus viewing “all the kingdoms of the world” from a mountaintop is realistic (gosh, which mountain would that be?).  (62) That Jesus simultaneously riding both an adult and a baby donkey into Jerusalem is not only realistic, but evidence it’s true!  (63) (Good luck figuring out the logistics of that: OHJ, p. 459).

61.  I don't think I mention that miracle.  But Carrier has obviously missed the clear point of Jesus' object lesson, regardless how often it has been explained "in the literature" for the thick of skull.

62. A vision, as Blomberg explains, again for the thick of skull. 

63. I thought we were talking about miracles, rather than literary devices and saddle sores?  I have often remarked on Matthew's love of doubles, it has nothing to do with my argument for the historicity of Jesus' miracles.  

RC: "The rest of Marshall’s criteria are even outright false (the Gospels actually don’t merit them) as well as irrelevant (even a story that merits them is not thereby more likely historical). For example, he cites as a criterion of increasing historicity that the Gospels are very early (Marshall criterion (2)), but fiction can be written immediately. Time has no bearing on that. By contrast, very late texts can actually be more likely historical than early ones (64-65) Arrian’s history of Alexander (written 500 years later) is far more historically reliable than the inaccurate and legend-riddled account of Callisthenes who was an eyewitness! (On why Arrian is more reliable than the Gospels: OHJ, p. 22.)

64.  So, time is irrelevant to historicity?  "Marshall's criterion" is "outright false" because "time has no bearing" on historicity?

First of all, this is not "Marshall's criterion."  Read any liberal New Testament scholar.  Read Funk, Crossan, Borg, Fredriksen, or Ehrman.

Why did liberal scholars start using "Marshall's criterion" 30 years ago, already?

Take Crossan's The Historical Jesus.  Look at Appendix 1, "An Inventory of the Jesus Tradition by Chronological Stratification and Independent Attestation."  The whole point of that appendix is that time matters, when it comes to accessing historical truth!   And while critics (like NT Wright) have faulted Crossan for placing some texts in the wrong strata, none before Carrier, so far as I know, has faulted him for borrowing the material from me, in 1991, 14 years before I wrote my Jesus Seminar book.  Nor has anyone else I know of faulted him for the notion that time matters for accessing accurate history.

65.  Of course I do not offer so simplistic an account of how time matters, as Carrier evidently wishes his readers to believe.  I point out, on the contrary, that Indian material that made its way into the Rig Veda, was orally transmitted for a thousand years or more, with surprising accuracy.  I describe the nuanced understanding of oral tradition that Kenneth Bailey, James Dunn, and Richard Bauckham develop.  I discuss Q, life expectancies, and much else besides - before coming not to the ridiculous conclusion, "This is early, so it must be true," but "This is early, so certain arguments against the gospels fail, and they are more likely to be accurate than they otherwise would be."

Carrier demonstrates his sheer childishness by 5-year-olding my argument again, then giving it a petulant kick.  And his main point is contradicted by practically every scholar in the field, by common sense, and by experience.   And shortly thereafter -- by himself.

RC: "Thus, nearness in time is not by itself a relevant criterion(66) But the claim is also false. The Gospels were written after even Paul was dead (67), much more any other known witness.  (68) The earliest can’t have been composed any earlier than forty years after the fact(69) by which time any witnesses there may have been would have been in their sixties or seventies(70)and statistically very likely dead by then (71) (average life expectancy for adults was 48; and Christians had to endure persecutions, wars, and famines in those forty years, so their life expectancy was below average(72) OHJ, pp. 148-52).

All of these claims are false.   Many I show to be false in JNM. 

66.  As scholars in general recognize (and Carrier accuses me of ignoring the literature!) nearness in time is highly relevant.  Carrier confuses "relevant" with "sufficient" or "decisive."

67. Paul did not die of old age, so his death is not a clear marker of the passing of a generation, as Carrier seems to imply.  And Mark may have been written before he died.

68.  What does that mean?  Papias claims that John was an eyewitness.  Why could John (or Mark, Peter's disciple) not have lived after Paul's execution?

69.  Of course the gospels could have been written before 70 AD, as many scholars think some were.  The world does not take "convincing Richard Carrier" as its chief standard of proof.

70.  Which assumes that witnesses to Jesus' life could not have been 20 or younger.  Yet we know Jesus encouraged young disciples.  And as I argue, mobile revolutionary movements usually consist of the young.   No doubt this is because the middle-aged are tied down, and the old cannot travel easily.

71.  As I explain at more-than-sufficient length, short life-expectancies are a function mostly of infant mortality.  If adults died so quickly, the human race would die out.

72.  Christians tended not to serve in wars.  The Christian community, Stark shows in The Rise of Christianity (whose figures Carrier cites when they are useful), had the demographic advantage that Christians tended to take better care of one another.  So despite persecutions (which Moss is at pains to say were not all that devastating), many of Jesus' young early followers probably lived well past the time when the gospels were written. 

RC: "Accordingly, we have no evidence any witness was alive when Mark wrote (he refers to none; and no other sources attest to any). (73) And that’s just Mark.  Matthew wrote later still. And Luke, we know, had to have composed no earlier than sixty years after the fact(74) when any witnesses would likely be in their eighties or nineties, and almost certainly dead by then; and John wrote decades after that  (75) (OHJ, pp. 264-70). The Gospels were thus written suspiciously precisely when legends begin to run most rampant. And we have no evidence any witness was alive to gainsay them. (76)

Wow, maybe the count of errors will pass 100!  That's pretty impressive for a mere "book review."  Pity it's all 1,2,3 and no 1b, 2b, 3b, or 1c, 2c, 3c.  Nothing in this second half of the "review" really even challenges anything I say in Jesus is No Myth yetso far as I can see.  

But we soldier on. 

73.  Papias attests to Mark's reliance on the sermons of Peter, and John attests to John being alive shortly before the final shape of his book went to press -- which Carrier says was half a century after Mark.  And it would be a miracle if all the eyewitnesses had died by that time, anyway -- even in 70 AD, some would be just 55, or even 50!

74. We "know" no such thing. 

75.  It is highly problematic and controversial to say John wrote that late.  

76.  So "Marshall's criterion" of time does matter, after all!  I am sure John Crossan and Paula Fredriksen will be relieved to learn their faith in me was not misplaced!

RC: "Similarly, Marshall claims the Gospels depict people and audiences reacting realistically (Marshall criterion (12)), but that’s both irrelevant (fiction can depict that, too) and false.  The behavior of people in the Gospels is highly unrealistic In the real world no one abandons their jobs and families and fanatically follows a total stranger the rest of their lives after hearing him utter two sentences (77-8)  . . (cut) There is actually hardly any scene in the Gospels that realistically depicts the actual complex and nuanced ways real people would actually behave had they seen or heard those things. This is actually evidence the Gospels are fabricated.

77.  The gospels never present everything that happens, of course.  That would be impossible, and paper was extremely expensive, for one thing.  But Jesus' words, and deeds, were such that it is not at all hard to understand the reactions to him, both positive and negative.

The world is full of impulsive people who run off and join the army, or get married in Vegas, or become missionaries, on the spur of the moment.  And we don't know the back-story here - how John and James got along with their Dad, how business had been, what they knew about Jesus already, and so forth.  This is a very uncharitable and unimaginative reading.  

78.  In that mysterious, never-noticed Part III, I compare crowd reactions in ancient Greek fiction.  The difference with the gospels is startling, and I think would convince anyone whose mind was not made up.  Again, one of Carrier's own "all characteristics the same" books furnishes a great control here - The Golden Ass.  The hero is a donkey -- so everything happens to the donkey, even a woman falling in lust with him.  (Don't ask.)  That's Carrier's chosen analogy to the gospels -- a single data point that by itself calls into question his literary sense.  

RC: "Likewise, Marshall claims the Gospels realistically develop the personalities of supporting characters (Marshall (13)), which is again both irrelevant (fiction can do that, too) and false.(79)  The motivations and character of Judas make absolutely no sense as depicted. Peter is a cypher.(80) Why he vacillates as he does, what his aspirations are, pretty much anything we’d want to know about what sort of person he was and why he did what he did, is never revealed. And no one else is even developed enough to assess as a person. Everyone else in the Gospels is always in fact just a cardboard cutout who only ever speaks or acts so as to serve as a lesson for the reader or as a foil for Jesus or to move the plot, even when their behavior makes no sense or is wholly improbable for a real person(81) This is actually evidence the Gospels are fabricated.

79.  Carrier has, as usual, simplified and misrepresented my actual argument.  The analogies I offer here (before testing them in Part III), are Confucius, and my own classrooms.  I point out that teachers meet with a particular pattern, which one finds in the gospels as well.  A few students stand out.  Most follow their classmates, or the class as a whole, speaking up on rarer intervals.  Perhaps Carrier will learn about this some day, if he ever lands a teaching job.  I hope this will happen, preferably after he has learned how to read better himself. 

80.  Peter, a cypher?  Are you kidding?

81.  What, Nicodemus?  The woman who asks for her daughter's healing?  Thomas?

The Gospel story is about Jesus, so the characters of his disciples are sketched in lesser but varying degrees of detail -- as in the earliest accounts of Confucius' life.  That is what one would expect, I argue, from an historical account, and show does not occur in ancient fiction.  Carrier has not even challenged my actual arguments, again.   

RC: "The same thing goes for Marshall’s claim that the Gospels depict its actual historical characters realistically (Marshall criterion (16)). But that’s either not true or not known to be true. We know little about Caiaphas by which to assess his depiction as realistic; likewise for every other known historical person paraded into the narrative(82) Except Pontius Pilate. Who is not depicted realistically at all.  (83)  Marshall tries to explain away the fact that Pilate violates rather than merits the criterion, by inventing reasons why he might do the things he does in the Gospels—but pointedly, it never occurs to the Gospel authors to give those reasons(84) That David Marshall knows how to write a more realistic depiction of Pilate than the authors of the Gospels did is not evidence the authors of the Gospels were writing history. It’s evidence they were writing fiction (OHJ, pp. 371-72, 374, 403).

82. This is, again, simply untrue.  Josephus tells us a great deal about Herod the Great and John the Baptist, which in fact coheres closely with what the gospels say.  If it cohered exactly, of course, Carrier would say the evangelists copied from Josephus, as he claims, too. Can't win with this guy: his theories are unfalsifiably elastic.  

We also know a little about some other characters in the New Testament from outside sources, including Caiaphas: that he was a real person, his position, not great detail, but enough to add a little more credibility to the gospel account. 

Furthermore, we know a great deal about Paul from his own writings, which are verified on dozens of facts from Luke.  Of course Carrier will say Luke copied those facts.  But since Carrier can't even copy my arguments without completely boshing them every single time, we won't look to him for expert testimony about the nature of copying.  

83. See Habermas, 143-145, including details I also bring up.

84. On the contrary, I cite what the gospels themselves say.  In the context of that time and place, Pilate's dream is a highly credible detail, as is Pilate's reaction to it.  And Luke himself describes Pilate's cruelty on another occasion.  

RC: "Apart from his bogus “thirty criteria,” Marshall also relies (X) othe crank “Argument from Undesigned Coincidences” (see Babinski and Ehrman(85), which is based on ignoring that Matthew and Luke are using Mark (and each other) as a source  (86) (just as Acts used the Epistles, and John used Mark and Luke) (87), and rests on illogical premises about how authors and reality work.  (88) He also relies on the bogus claim that the frequency of names in the Gospels matches reality(89) n.b., it doesn’t: very common names (like Jesus, Lazarus, Ishmael and Manahem) are peculiarly less frequent than they should be; and the names that do appear are mentioned too infrequently to produce any statistically significant conclusion, or are disproportionately over-represented (like James and Phillip), or are actually conspicuously unusual for Palestine (like Nicodemus, Stephen, and Bartimaeus). The most typical names in fact all derive from the OT, which is evidence of symbolic emulation of the scriptures, not historical reality. Marshall cherry picks the evidence that conveniently confirms his name frequency hypothesis, while hiding the evidence that contradicts it(90) (And again, he sucks at math.) (91)

(X) Added error:  No, Undesigned Coincidences is not "apart from" my thirty criteria, it is one of them.  

85.  To support his "crank" jibe, Carrier links to a debate between Tim McGrew and Bart Ehrman on the same show we debated on, Unbelievable.  The odd thing is, Ehrman had apparently never heard of Undesigned Coincidences, and didn't seem to know how to respond to Dr. McGrew's argument.  He did the best he can, mainly by changing the subject.  But that, along with a piece by the eccentric Ed Babinski, is enough for Carrier not only to call the debate for Ehrman (whose honesty he has also often blasted), but to declare McGrew's argument (which he shows no hint of understanding, see below) "crank." 

Welcome to the wonderful world of Richard Carrier-style "scholarship."

Here, by the way, is McGrew's response to Ed Babinski

86.  I've read Lydia McGrew's book in advance, and Tim's on-line arguments, and that is simply not what they are based upon.
87.  I doubt these lines of borrowing.  But they wouldn't be relevant, even if true.  
88.  As if Richard Carrier knows more about how authors or reality work, than the rest of us do -- so self-evidently, that we need not bother with any evidence or arguments. 
89.  I rely on data for both the gospels and for 1st Century Palestine that Richard Bauckham furnishes in Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - you know, the peer-reviewed research that Carrier was on about, earlier in this paper. 
90.   No I do not "cherry-pick" or "hide" evidence.  I cite Bauckham, then provide the data from a table put together by Neil Shenvi, without deleting any of it, or adding anything else.
91.  And again, no examples of any mathematical errors that I have committed are given.   

RC: "Of course, trying to get a different frequency from actual pertinent evidence is hard work, and Marshall is lazy (93); it’s also impossible, because guess what, even before you look at the list of persons as mythologized as Jesus, you can probably already predict the frequency of historical persons on that list isn’t going to be that high. vSo Marshall needs Jesus to not be in the Rank Raglan class.  So he slews a slaw of ridiculous apologetic bullshit to try and get him out of there.  (94)  But even outside the RR Class, Jesus sits at almost the most extreme degree of mythification that anyone claimed to be historical can even undergo; it’s thus not possible to argue against the conclusion that he should be among the least likely to be historical of almost anyone there is, totally regardless of whether he belongs to the RR Class.

93. I may indeed be lazy in some ways, but not in this one.

94.  Refuting Carrier's pet Rank-Raglan theory was painfully easy, like shooting fish in a barrel.  That, no doubt, is why the sport has become so popular.   Maybe it will be an Olympic event in 2020.

RC: "I’ve discussed the facts and mathematical logic of the Rank-Raglan trope several times already, beyond what’s already covered in OHJ (see McGrath on the Rank-Raglan MythotypeThe Covington ReviewThe Tim Hendrix CritiqueThe Hallquist Review; and Two Lessons Bart Ehrman Needs to Learn).  Here I’ll just quickly make fun of Marshall’s attempt to escape reality on this point (Jesus, pp. 28-37):
  • Marshall claims the Gospels never declare Jesus the heir of a king.  Apparently David wasn’t a king.(95)
95.  Of course that isn't what I say.   I point out the obvious fact that "king," in the gospels, is a metaphor, not a literal description of Jesus' mundane occupation.  And anyway, being the "son of David" in the sense of physical descendant would not make one his heir -else David would have tens of thousands of heirs.  Some say one hundred million Asians are descended from that busiest of Khans, Genghis.  Does that mean Mongolia has 100 million emperors?  
  • Marshall claims the Gospels never declare Jesus the Son of God. [Roll laugh track.] (95)

95.   Completely false.  Here is what I actually say, in black and white (but putting key words in red and enlarging a few of them, to help the illiterate at least notice the big red words): 

"'He is reputed to be the son of a god.'  Technically we should probably reject this quality to retain rigor, since Jesus was not the son of 'a god' --- that is, the physical offspring of a Greek superhero, an exalted man who was limited in space, knowledge, and virtue, one of a 'pack of spoiled brats' as Oxford historian of science Allan Chapman described the crowd on Olympus.  Rather, Jesus is described as Son of God, the transcendent and morally perfect Creator of all things.  His sonship is not physical (it did not involve Zeus or Poseidon chasing a maiden) but metaphorical."

Even so, I generously give this item half a point, to give Carrier's theory every chance. 

And then Carrier opens up on all banks, and simply fabricates phony arguments for me right and left, to save his Rank Raglan argument: 
  • Marshall claims Jesus is never said to be reared by one or more foster parents(96) Because Joseph was actually the biological father of Je…oh no, wait.
  • Marshall claims we are told all about Jesus’s childhood(97) Because we are told about him as a baby and a young adult. Neither of which is his childhood. (98)
  • Marshall claims Jesus never returned to his future kingdom. Apparently David didn’t rule Judea. And this didn’t happen(99)
  • Marshall claims the Gospels never declare Jesus King of the Jews. [Roll laugh track.](100)
  • Marshall claims Jesus’s ministry included wars and natural catastrophes. Because, Marshall insists with a straight face, drama is the same thing as wars and natural catastrophes(101)
  • Marshall claims Jesus did not proclaim any laws. Because, you know, his Sermon on the Mount was never enacted by a legislature.(102)
  • Marshall claims Jesus was never forsaken by God(103) Even though Jesus said he was forsaken by God.
  • Marshall claims Jesus was never abandoned by the people(104) Apparently this didn’t happenOr this.
  • Marshall claims Jesus was never driven “from the throne or city.” Because he doesn’t know what the word “or” means. Or that Jerusalem is a city(105)
  • Marshall claims Jesus’s rapid death was no surprise.  (106) Pontius Pilate was more experienced with crucifixion death rates.
  • Marshall claims nothing mysterious happened at Jesus’s death(107) Just the sun going out for three hours, an eighty-foot-high curtain magically tearing in two, a rock-shattering earthquake, and a horde of zombies descending on the city. Roman centurions were apparently more experienced with mysterious events.
  • Marshall claims Jesus’s children not succeeding him doesn’t count because Jesus “wasn’t a king” (right, Jesus totally wasn’t declared the King of the Jews…but his children didn’t even succeed him in running the church, either). And because he didn’t have any kids(108)  Even though not having kids is one of the ways kids don’t succeed you.
  • Marshall claims Jesus has no tomb(109)  Hmm.
  • Marshall claims defeating Satan in the desert doesn’t count as battling a great adversary(110) Even though Satan literally means “the adversary” and there was literally none greater.
  • Marshall claims that this contest didn’t happen before Jesus entered his future kingdom. Because he sucks at math, so he doesn’t know that Mark 4 comes before Mark 10.  (111)

(96-111)  I don't think I say a single one of these, which is why Carrier doesn't quote what I actually do say, but "paraphrases" all my actual arguments to hell.  

What is the surest sign of a lost argument?  When you don't dare quote your opponent's actual words.  When, instead, you rely entirely on caricature, distortion, simplification, and when all else fails, flat-out making crap up. 

This entire "review" thus reveals itself as a long, tattered flag of surrender by Richard Carrier.

Image result for surrender flagI dare anyone to read my actual arguments, pages 33-37, and compare them to the grotesque, blatant, and frankly cringing, falsification that Richard Carrier feels compelled to engage in, in the sentences above.  I don't think he accurately describes a single one of my arguments.

I accept your surrender, Richard.

RC: "If you aren’t laughing your ass off by now, you haven’t been paying attention.

I actually sort of agree with this sentence.  Though I feel a bit sorry for Richard and his fans, at the same time. 

RC: "As usual Marshall also lies, claiming for instance I only score Jesus on Matthew, not Mark (false: I note Mark scores Jesus at 14 out of 22 in OHJ, p. 232).  (112)  And, again, he sucks at math (mistakenly claiming we need to know how many historical people don’t score above 11 in order to know how many who do are historical).  (113) But his attempts to downscore Jesus just make him look ridiculous.  I hardly need any further argument.

(112)  Once again, just when Carrier most directly accuses me of lying, I directly and in so many words contradict the claims he tries to stuff into my mouth.  Once again, I put the most relevant words in big red, because unlike Jesus, or Dr. Margaret Brand, I can't heal the blind: 

"Third, why does Carrier focus on Matthew, which he sees as later, and not Mark, which he thinks presents an earlier stratus of the Christian myth?  Apparently because Matthew's Jesus seems to fit this pattern better than Mark's Jesus, especially if you concentrate on infancy narratives On Carrier's own account, Jesus only meets 14 of these criteria in Mark."

Need glasses much, Honest Richard? 

(113)  Again Carrier's representation of my argument makes it a bit hard to recognize.  What I claim is that we don't know how many RR grads have actually lived. 

RC: "The saddest thing here is that Marshall is totally fucking freaked out over this 1 in 3 prior chance of being historical derived from the Rank Raglan trend.  It horrifies and terrifies him. He has to run screaming from it, or thrash at it with wild irrational pummeling(114) And yet that’s an extremely weak prior against historicity.  It would be easily and quickly overwhelmed by any good evidence. Good evidence is something that’s, say, five times more likely to exist if the person existed than if they didn’t. A 5/1 Bayes’ Factor times a 1/3 Prior Odds gives you a 5/3 result in favor of historicity. Just from a single piece of relatively mild evidence (really good evidence has a Bayes’ Factor of hundreds or thousands or even millions to one; like the evidence we have for Julius Caesar). That defenders of historicity can’t even find enough evidence for Jesus to overwhelm a feeble 1/3 prior odds against it is what should be scaring them.  (115) The prior itself is so weak it’s not even scary at all.

(114) Who looks freaked, horrified, terrified, and irrational to you, in this exchange?   The person who quotes his opponent's words at length and calmly refutes them?  Or the person whose favorite word is "liar," who almost never dares quote what he is attacking directly, whose vitriol spills over into the obscene, and who wishes the other person's death?  

You decide.  

(115) I believe the evidence offered in Jesus is No Myth, not just that Jesus existed (never my point), but that the gospels are largely accurate, could overcome astronomical priors, sucky at math as Carrier keeps claiming that I am.   Sorry, but this book really is not about you, Richard.  You are so vain. 

Conclusion (116)

(116) Hallelujah!  But Carrier still has not mentioned Part III of my book, where so much of the material he claims the book does not contain, is in fact located. 

RC: "You will never learn from David Marshall’s book what the peer reviewed case against historicity actually consists of, or what facts and arguments it actually rests on. You will never see any engagement with any of the independent peer reviewed literature that supports that case. You will never hear what the alternative explanations of all the evidence are (including the origination of Christianity as a sect and dogma), much less find any coherent explanation of why it’s wrong.  You will have tons of evidence hidden from you. You will be lied to(117-8) And you will be distracted by irrelevant methodologies that have no basis or support in any professional field.

(117) You have already had tons of evidence hidden from you, in this so-called "review" of Jesus is No Myth.  Carrier never quotes directly when he can make crap up.  He essentially overlooks or misreads the entire book: its purpose, its outline, the data I rely upon, and every single argument he pretends to attend to. 

By contrast, I quote people directly, and I quote them accurately, having no fear of anything Reza Aslan, Matthew Ferguson, Bart Ehrman, or Richard Carrier say.  I see them as wayward friends to the Gospel, inside moles who betray the Death Star to the Rebel Alliance.  They set the ball up over the net, so Christian apologists can slam it back and win the game not merely for the historicity of Jesus, but for the truth of the Gospel, which drives skeptics to arguments as bad as the ones we have witnessed above.

(118) You have already been lied to, repeatedly.  But not by me.   

RC: "Indeed, Marshall’s entire approach rests on assuming miracle claims have the same probability of being true as mundane stories  (119) (e.g. Jesus, pp. 162-81). Of course his reasoning to that conclusion is totally illogical, and only betrays his unprofessional bias (see, by contrast, why real historians—even when believers like Raymond Brown—don’t act like that: Proving History, pp. 114-17).  His book is thus just so much Christian apologetics, and not even good apologetics at that.  It is not serious scholarship that would pass peer review, at least anywhere with respectable academic standards. It’s all smoke and mirrors, a continuous thread of handwaving with a bankrupt methodology, wanton dishonesty, and the concealing of evidence. I don’t recommend it.  Other than perhaps for amusement. Or cooking hamburgers. Oh, wait, no. It’s probably toxic.

(119)  More Carrier-gesis.  Again, that simply is not my argument, or my assumption.  Which is why, again, Richard Carrier is unable to directly quote me saying anything of the sort, before tossing off his last, and lamest (given what has gone before) accusation of "dishonesty." 

I can't even call it ironic.  It's just pathetic, and extremely disappointing from a man with a PhD in ancient history from so great an institution as Columbia University.  


I am grateful that my books have warm reviews from many scholars for whom I feel the deepest respect, including leading historians, scientists, philosophers, anthropologists, sociologists and theologians from around the world.  (Some of whom have taught at some of the best universities on the planet.)  I treasure the encouragement of thinkers who have contributed so much to human knowledge, and who in many cases are greatly my superiors in deeply important and relevant fields. 

Certainly my arguments are rather original, and therefore like any other novel hypotheses, merit serious, sober, and informed criticism.   Some of my major arguments may, in major respects, be flawed and in need of revision.  It is likely that I am patently wrong on some minor points, though I do believe the major theses of this book will prove sound. 

I had generally thought of Richard Carrier as an intelligent and well-informed individual, even if prone to fits of emotional hysteria, and to building castles in the air for his solitary and imaginary sovereignty. 

I am surprised that even in such an enraged state, Dr. Carrier seems unable to critique Jesus is No Myth with more intelligence or insight, or even basic understanding, than he exhibits in the review above.  Surely, to get a PhD at Columbia University, one has to be able to put on a better show than this!

Nevertheless, sadly, this review is almost utterly bereft of anything for me, the author, to learn, besides perhaps compassion.  I may rework a few sentences to make them a bit clearer.  But Carrier does not seem to miss-read by accident.  The errors he makes always fit into the same pattern, protecting his own arguments, and utterly obscuring (not really challenging, ever) mine.  Carrier does not quote my exact words, because his own caricature of them -- while invariably inaccurate to the nth power -- works better for his retributive purposes.  

I shall have to wait for serious criticism from someone else.  


  1. Absolutely hilarious David. Carrier is an absolute riot and I thank God for his blog so that I can laugh myself silly. I once remember babysitting my nephews. One was 4 and the other one was 2 at the time, and I was amusing them by letting them colour Power Rangers pages. I told the older one that his picture looked nice, so the 2 year old immediately poured his sippy cup on his older brother's picture and then punched him in the teeth. Carrier reminds me of a two year old, and he wants to pour his sippy cup on your book. Thank you for a gut busting couple of posts

  2. Thanks. Which joins two independent thoughts I happened to have had, an old one and a new one: (a) that Donald Trump is like a 4 year old, emotionally; (b) and that Richard Carrier seems even less mature.

  3. David - I'm pretty new to your blog. I learned of it after you demolished my favourite atheist jackass, Richard Carrier, on "Unbelievable". In fact, I think I've read Dick's blog way more than yours (for amusement, trust me). You talk a lot about miracles in your blogs. My problem is that I've never seen one. And believe me, I've tried. I was a Pentecostal for many, many years, and I have given "seed" offerings and attended tent meetings of: Benny Hinn, Bob Tilton, Jimmy Swaggart, Marylin Hickey, Kenneth Copeland, etc. But I have never seen a good miracle - but I have seen a lot of crappy ones - as you can imagine. Now that I am older, I am a very liberal Anglican, because everything the Pentecostals told me was... what shall I call it, an exaggeration (or bs :) ). Can you direct me to some of your best blogs on miracles? Thanks

  4. If Benny Hinn got through his show without being blasted by lightening, that would be miracle enough for me.

    Let me recommend a few books, instead. For in-depth, hard-core reading, try Craig Keener, Miracles. (The subtitle is The Credibility of the New Testament Account, but really this two-volume set is mostly about modern miracles.) Shorter and a bit less dramatic is Eric Metaxis' recent book, I think also called Miracles. In my own field, Tony Lambert's China's Christian Millions includes a chapter on Signs and Wonders. Lambert lets out a fact that many of us working in China have long recognized, that the spread of Christianity in China (and elsewhere) has generally involved amazing events. David Garrison's A Wind in the House of Islam tells quite a few remarkable stories from the Muslim world, as well -- similar to stories I've heard from converts from Islam I have known personally.

    All of those men seem very honest and intelligent - completely different sorts from the likes of Hinn.

    My second book, Jesus and the Religions of Man, doesn't contain anything quite so dramatic, but includes two chapters on "Miracles" and "Magic," which may help. (In fact, reviews of that book have been amazing -- though it's 17 years old, now. I could send a copy for about $10, including postage -- I'm a bit over-stocked.) Anyway, sufficient to say while what I've seen has been only moderately remarkable, it helped convince me that what I heard from other people -- honest people, including Matthew, Mark, Luke and John -- need not be completely out to lunch.

  5. Excellent. I will email you soon and send you my coordinates. Also - I live in Canada and can't find your new book on So I will order one of those from you as well. I heard Craig Keener on Unbelievable as well, but I don't think that I have the stamina to make it through a 1200 page book!

  6. Hi David, i visit this site (among many others) every now and then, to find good stuff to read. Your exchange with Carrier is interesting. I guess he milks every iota of skepticism he can find on the historical and literary questions relating to the NT literature to PROVE what he wants to believe in the first place--that Jesus is a myth. Without an openness to the possibility of transcendent reality and the validity of faith (as Lewis slowly developed and later fully embraced), i guess Carrier will always fall for "confirmation bias." Anyway, I am a PhD student (Ateneo de Manila University offshore program being run at Ateneo de Davao University, Philippines--Ateneo schools are among the top schools in the country founded and run by Jesuits, but they are quite liberal in terms of academic freedom which is good for the most part), now preparing to do my Thesis paper (i opted a non-thesis track in my MA in NT Theology at Asia Pacific Theological Seminary, Baguio City). Wanting to write on CS Lewis' defense of MORAL REALISM (if i'm classifying his stance correctly) in his ABOLITION OF MAN. The head of the PhD program questioned whether Lewis wrote enough material on the question of ethics and morality for his works to be the basis for an MA Thesis paper. I've read some of Lewis' works, but my materials are quite limited. WOULD YOU HAPPEN TO KNOW LEWIS' WORKS ENOUGH TO GIVE ME A LIST OF HIS MOST SIGNIFICANT WORKS THAT DISCUSS THE QUESTION OF MORALITY? If i can prove that there is enough material then i can go ahead with this, and i'm also planning the MA paper as part of my doctoral dissertation. NEED SOME HELP HERE BROTHER!

  7. Hi. What is your name?

    Mere Christianity has a lot on this subject. So, of course, does Screwtape Letters. One can find ideas on morality imbedded in all his fiction as well, less systematically. Start reading, and you're bound to find examples. But Abolition of Man has been described as one of the most important books of the 20th Century, and even an appendix is still discussed -- that book by itself should certainly be a legitimate topic.

  8. Sorry about that, my name is Edgar Rene M Nartatez (i prefer to be called Bogs). I'm aware that Lewis wrote on morality in his MERE (havn't read this one though, can u believe that?), i guess the topic also shows up in his PILGRIM'S (read that a loooong time ago, lost my copy too). Read his SURPRISED (2x) which i think also mentions the topic though not in an extended way. His trilogy i guess also can be helpful (PERELANDRA and HIDEOUS, haven't read SILENT PLANET). Already did a paper on ABOLITION for my Philosophy of the Human Person (a PhD course i took earlier). Still trying to figure out what to actually write on, though i already gave a tentative proposal on CS Lewis' defense of Moral Realism (for the Research Proposal course) and basically was welcomed by 2 of the reviewers. But now the head of the program seemed to change his tone and is questioning whether Lewis' ABOLITION is enough for a thesis paper. By the way, formerly i was lead pastor/elder of a local evangelical/charismatic church here, but resigned to pursue a vision (a path similar to that of the late Dallas Willard), but still part of the church's leadership as a volunteer.

  9. Well, what I might do if I were you would be to take Lewis' appendix on morality around the world, the moral code he calls the Tao, and test it empirically. Lewis wasn't very systematic. I don't know what is available for pre-Spanish Philippines, maybe not much. But it would be interesting to try to verify his thesis on universal morality in light of (a) cultures he didn't cover, like SE Asian; (b) new research on the subject; (c) in a more systematic way. That'd be the route I'd probably go, since I like research.

  10. Now that's a very interesting suggestion. I guess the problem is finding enough materials for such a project. I like research too, but with a family and teaching part time at the same school (teaching philosophy of religion to almost 150 students--3 classes combined) and other pressing concerns, take huge chunks of time away from research effort that i would consider ideal. O well, thanks anyway. Help me pray to finish my education (what's left are the ff. finish an MA Thesis paper, then PhD dissertation), then God willing go full time as an academic.

  11. I am REALLY shocked by the unprofessional review by Carrier. He is an atheist, but not impartial and reliable.

    Thanks for showing me that Carrier cannot be trusted. Maybe you know the famous James White, a man I respect, Christian scholar. I don't agree with all he says, but he is stimulating and honest.

    There is a comment on the internet,in youtube,about a smear campaign against him(similar to what Carrier has done), but worse. It is by Sam Shamoun, who says he is Christian but is not. Sam Shamoun is known for
    insulting Muslims all the time, and calls White "apostate","vile", "nasty", etc, here is the comemnt:

    "​SAM SHAMOUN,friend of Christian debater DAVID WOOD, NABEEL QURESHI,is an evil,disgusting man, insults others for NO REASON.He never ADMITS he is wrong in insulting others. Notice how he insults and is vulgar to a Catholic Christian(Dave Armstrong):

    ​Shamoun claims the Inquisition killed 50-60 million people(in reality it was 7,200), and when proven wrong he insults:​

    Here he is rebuked for his vulgarity by James White,recently,in 2016,a famous debater:​

    Here James White again denounces Shamoun for being​ "ANGRY and FOUL-MOUTHED","being a BIG BULLY","has an ANGER PROBLEM"​:


    ​Here Shamoun denied the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus(a doctrine central to Christianity), later he affirms it,and calls others LIARS. He is obviously CRAZY:​



    ​Shamoun's defenders say he knows about Islam,but I am not talking about technical knowledge,I am talking about a person's character.
    HEIDEGGER,the GREATEST PHILOSOPHER of the 20th century,one of the greatest of all time,was an ANTISEMITE and even a Nazi party member(1933-1945). As a PERSON,Heidegger was trash,scum,like Shamoun,but as a philosopher,he was profound,a revolutionary.​

    About the word ISLAMOPHOBIA,not that you are saying it,but others are: Islam is NOT a RACE,so any intellectual or spoken attacks on ISLAM(a belief system,like COMMUNISM,BUDDHISM,etc)
    is in NO WAY a CRIME or HATE SPEECH.

    For MUSLIMS it is BLASPHEMY,but we have HUMAN RIGHTS,like Freedom of Speech.So Islamophobia is ALLOWED,it is no crime.
    The word to use is MUSLIMOPHOBIA(equivalent to JUDEOPHOBIA).But Muslims and others say Islamophobia(an ideology) is EQUIVALENT to JUDEOPHOBIA(a group of human beings).
    It is sickening to see Western intellectuals are so stupid as to not see the nonsense of the situation. It is like them saying:"JUDAISMOPHOBIA is a crime,it is hate speech.We should have laws against Judaismophobia",

    when JUDAISM is an ideology,not human beings.ALI SINA,the ex-Muslim from Iran,who created FaithinFreedom, has written about the stupidity of Westerners who denounce Islamophobia as a crime,as hate speech."

  12. Hello David,
    I'm currently in a conversation with a person who's originally from India, and I mentioned some of the content of the postscript in your book, 'Jesus is no Myth,' namely parts of the Rig Veda that seem to contain Christian concepts. He asked me if there were any verses from the Rig Veda referenced in your chapter. I couldn't find any, so I'm wondering if you might know of any verses to support the claims in your book.

    Thank you,

  13. Hi, Joyce. I briefly quote a verse or two in How Jesus Passes the Outsider Test. But if your friend is interested in this subject, I would recommend to him Ivan Satyavrata's Not Without a Witness, especially the parts on Krishna Banarjea. Banarjea was a high-caste and successful convert to Christianity in the 19th Century who based his case for Christianity largely on the Rig Veda. Satyavrata is a reasonable guide. There is a whole book on the subject out, but I'm not sure how much I can trust it. I've found some of these things in the Rig Veda myself, especially about Prajapati and sacrifice, but I don't have time to go through it right now and pick them out.

  14. Thank you, David, for your reply. I'll follow up on your suggestion.

    I finished reading 'Jesus is no Myth' a few weeks ago and was particularly fascinated by material in your postscript related to various pre-Christian cultures that contained markedly Christian concepts. I've since explored the origin of some Chinese ideographic characters online and found it to be very intriguing. God has left his 'stamp,' as it were, on ancient cultures, a stamp that's just waiting to be discovered! So exciting.

  15. You're welcome. Some of those books are more reliable than others; the best-known cut a few corners, and I recommend reading with pinch of salt.

    Last year a new edition of my True Son of Heaven: How Jesus Fulfills the Chinese Culture was published. It's not on Amazon yet, but if you're still interested in the subject, I'll give you ordering information. Just happened to read through this thread today after receiving a question about something Carrier said . . .


Sincere comments welcome. Please give us something to call you -- "Anon" no longer works.