I think we can all agree he most likely wasn't the son of God.
I'm reading C.S. Lewis now, and his claim that Jesus was "Lord, Liar or Lunatic" seems like a false dilemma. Couldn't he be deluded, and honestly think he was because his followers insisted? Is there historical evidence he ever claimed to be God in the first place?

Posts about your opinion on Jesus's legitimacy/character as well as reading material on the subject would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance :)

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I watched the video as well. It was very compelling.

Videos are often compelling.   I find McDonalds commercials compelling, even though the food is crap.

Richard Carrier unfortunately is an academic hack.   His stuff fails peer review, so almost all of it is self-published.  Nobody in his field is interested in hiring him. 

Like any good huckster, though, he seems to know his desired audience.

This is like one of those drawings where people have to find what's wrong with this picture, except in this case, identify fallacies of logic.

1.  The fact that this is a video does not make it less correct.  The delivery method has no .  It has merit or no merit, regardless of whether it's a video.  Carrier  has also published in writing, and I have read a bit of that as well.  I'm not sure which fallacious argument this is, maybe the pooh pooh fallacy?  "argument is described as inherently worthless or undeserving of serious attention." - in this case because the method of publication - a video - does not merit serious consideration.  There must be a sort of Rosencrantz and Gildenstern fallacy, where the courier of the message is the cause of error, but I don't know. Maybe just Non Sequitur - this was a video, therefore cant be valid.

2. Argumentum ad hominem - Abusive "Richard Carrier is a hack".

3.  Consensus gentium- consensus theory of truth, "His stuff fails peer review, so almost all of it is self-published.  Nobody in his field is interested in hiring him".  This is like the old Camel cigarette ads, "4 out of 5 doctors recommend Camels", so there was a consensus among doctors that Camels are good for you.  Not true, of course.  There are many paridigm shifts, and it's never easy for authorities, including academics, to accept that their paridigm is wrong.  Another example was the discovery of H. pylori as the cause of most cases of peptic ulcer, when in fact it was infectious in cause.  That paradigm shift, accepted by almost no doctors,ultimately won Dr. Barry Marshal a Nobel prize.  Anotgher paradigm shift was when a massive population study discovered that estrogen supplement of menopausal women was harmful.  For a generation or two, or three, massive numbers of menopausal women were given estsrogen by their doctors, as a standard of care.  Then all of a sudden, it was known to increase risk for heart attack, stroke, dementia, thromboembolism, and that was that.  Just because academics and other highly educated experts are invested in a paradigm, to the extent where they wont hire Carrier - if that is true - does not mean the paradigm is correct.

3.  Encapsulated within the examples and the argument about no one in his field is hiring him, as well as using honorifics, is appeal to authority.   As noted in the link, "Appeals to authority are always deductively fallacious; even a legitimate authority speaking on his area of expertise may affirm a falsehood, so no testimony of any authority is guaranteed to be true."  My favorite example is Dr. Oz, who uses "Dr." to sell fraudulent products and make a fortune, even though he was called before congress for his weight loss scams.

None of the fallacious arguments add or remove evidence in either direction regarding the historicity of Jesus. 

What I have found Carrier guilty of is simply ignoring the best arguments for the historical Jesus.  (In the one very lengthy video of him I've watched, he spends a lot of time debunking miracles, etc., but the people arguing for a historical Jesus don't posit that he performed miracles!  As long as we're identifying fallacies--he's either not responding to the historicists...or he's erecting strawmen.) 

Given that he doesn't address the strongest arguments of people like Bart Ehrman,  you won't see them in his videos, so his videos will come off looking more compelling than they should.   Unless you've seen advocates for both sides of the question, you're going to get a very biased view.

The overwhelming majority of mythicists are outsiders to the field.  (And no, you don't have to be religious to qualify!)  Carrier is actually one of maybe two or three active today who have qualifications that are pretty on-target; he knows how to "do" history.  Most mythicists don't, they're dilletantes.  But even there, as Dr. Bob mentions, he's not getting a lot of respect from people who actually *specialize* in this part of history.

I'm going to make a general observation here, and it may (or may not) apply to any particular individual reading this, I may, or may not, be addressing you:  there's an irrational need amongst many people who reject Xianity to insist that it be *totally* false.  Not only was Jesus not divine, not only is there no god, no virgin birth, no resurrection, but Jesus must have never existed at all, even as a flesh and blood pink ape.  There's a *need* for that to be the case, and many mythicists get downright nasty to those who argue against them, as if they think their atheism might somehow be discredited if it turned out there was a pink ape named Jesus that looks like he might have been the poor guy all those ridiculous legends were built around, a sort of ancient Paul Bunyan.

If someone really thinks it's all a myth, they ought to ask themselves, are they just doing so to put their atheism on firmer ground, to make the rejection complete?  Or do they really have a good argument?  If they get hostile to atheists who think it's a distorted memory of something real and perfectly ordinary...why is this such an issue?

I've noticed the most strident atheists are also the ones that tend to be the most adamant mythicists.  Why is that, unless I've identified the cause?

I think you are right that some in the atheist community prefer to beleive there was no Jesus.  I may be one of them, although in general I think I just don't care. 

I wonder if it matters whether it was all originally inspired by a flesh and blood person, or was entirely built on other myths, and with social and political intents along the way,  without the "seed" of a person at the start of this religion.

Over 2 millenia, the story of Jesus has been propagated, mutated, supported, massaged, and promoted.   I don't think it's possible to strip away the fictions and see what remained.  I think we can construct reasonable scenarios that tell how the legends grew. 

It's true that we depend on our knowledge of someone's abilities, education, and reputation, to make conclusions about their conclusions.  But i find it much more helpful to use critical thinking and, when possible, scientific discovery, to build a case.  I also know that history is far from being a science.

I don't think it's possible to strip away the fictions and see what remained.

It can't be done with the sort of certainty that we can, say, use when discussing the hard sciences.

But we can figure some things out.  (And I am assuming here the Historical Jesus was real.)  Just for one example: He did come from Nazareth, most likely born there (not Bethlehem).  Why do I say that?  Well, 1) Every source (yes, they are all highly mythologized, but you can still weigh them, taking that into account--like I am doing here) says he started out in the Galilee area.  But 2) The Messiah was supposed to be from Bethlehem.  That's prophecy that existed before he came along.  3) Jesus was claimed to be the Messiah.  4)  That means anyone claiming 3) has to explain the discordant fact 1).  So...5) and 6), the nativity narratives of Matthew and Luke had to be generated, to explain how a guy who obviouisly resided in Galilee could have somehow been born in Bethlehem.  Note that there are LOTS of differences between those two accounts, so they were made up independently by two different people trying to solve the same problem.

What we see here are the clear fingerprints of someone--two someones, in fact--taking a fact (Jesus from Galilee) that isn't what they want it to be, and trying to paper it over, to "fix" it.

The fact that Jesus is reported to be from Galilee, when he "should" have been from Bethlehem, is actually an indication that the historical Jesus was probably...by golly...actually from Galilee (and was probably never in Bethlehem--not only was Mary not a virgin when Jesus was born, she probably never even made the claim).  They wouldn't have made that shit up, because it wouldn't fit the story they wanted to tell of a Messiah.

In fact, the mere fact they did this is an indication that there was an historical Jesus.  If they were making it up from thin air, they'd not have put him in Galilee because zero to very few people hearing the story would believe it...because everyone knew the Messiah was supposed to come from Bethlehem.

This is the sort of thing Carrier et. al. don't even try to answer.  Or at least if they have responded to this, I never heard about it.

In the main, though you're right.  To us it's of academic interest at most.  Except that we can use these sorts of arguments (especially including contradictions) to try to put some doubt in the mind of literalists.

I remember, back when I was more interested in these things, Robert Price talking about there is no evidence for a Nazareth. That there was an error, Jesus was predicted to be a Nazarene - a sect - but later this was taken to mean he was from Nazareth. If memory serves - an my memory often doesn't serve, these days - Price states there was a historical Nazareth in previous times, and later times, but not at the time when Jesus was supposed to have existed.

I don't have a link. Here is another link that I can't vouch for but reads kind of interesting to me. The URL gives away that the author starts with the conclusion, which would be a logical fallacy too. I understand that.


There are at least as many archaeologists who claim to have dug up good evidence it was there.

No way am I qualified to decide who was right.

Hey Renee,

As much as I've searched I've never been able to find any evidence that he existed. What I did find was shown to be forgeries. Anybody out there know of some solid evidence that this guy actually existed? I think it's an interesting question.

- kk

Hey Kir Komrik,

It seems to me that it'd be strange to invent a person with such purposeless detail. Maybe if he'd been said to live a few millennia earlier, like Gilgamesh, I could believe there was no man. But just 2000 years ago? We might as well speculate that Spartacus wasn't real. I just feel I'd need more evidence to believe that. If I were going to create the life of a character to build a cult around, I wouldn't have put verifiable factors in there. A very public execution, under a public figure like Pilate? If they'd said he was killed by the Jews in private, would it have taken from the required sacrifice? Was there something to be gained from including the Romans' role (passive authoritarian oppression perhaps)? I just don't see a group of people hatching out such a perfect scheme without any sort of focal piece to use as an anchor.

It seems far more likely to me that there was a man, who was essentially killed for running his mouth, and then the storytellers took it from there, cult, church, mental illness.

Best explanation I know of.

If you were to read the gospel of Mark, forgetting everything you had ever heard about Jesus, you'd come away with a very different picture than Christians have of Jesus.  Mark was the first to be written, then Matthew and Luke (at about the same time, though I believe most people think Luke is slightly newer).  Then finally John, which is the most "Jesus = God"-y of the bunch.  Mark had no nativity tale, Matthew and Luke introduced two independent and very different tales of the nativity (that may or may not outright contradict each other, depending on how creative you want to be with explaining things away).  Mark made no claims of divinity.  ("Son of God" to a Hebrew at the time would not be taken literally; the entire nation of Israel was called the Son of God, as was Moses.  It took outside Greek readers of the phrase to think of someone like Heracles, who as regarded as half-god by blood.)  You can see a legend being built up around an apocalyptic preacher who probably wouldn't even recognize Christianity as anything he actually preached.

Right, when you read the new testament ignoring everything but Jesus's dialogue you start to notice it consists mostly of: parables of age-old wisdom (not that any of it was especially new), peace and love (social revolution), and then the end times and claims of divinity (if you were to characterize him based off his dialogue those parts make him sound a little arrogant). I've often wondered if it were possible that he didn't claim to be a son of a god (as self-important people seemingly just did back then) and maybe that was added as the result of his cult-founders deifying him after his death.


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