Sunday, July 22, 2007

New to Jesus Mythicism

This is a brief posting to address those fellow Christians new to these ideas. I spoke a little on the last podcast about this but wanted to put something here as well.

1. If you haven't had a pastor or other influential spiritual personality hammer proper exegesis into your head by now, consider this a hammering. A considerable amount (though, obviously, not nearly all) of the mythicist position and other objections to the historicity of the Gospel accounts rest on exegeting Scripture. If you are not on your game in this area, these objections can seem very overwhelming and cause you to lose heart. Read through the texts mentioned very carefully, and judge for yourselves.

2. Judge for yourselves the validity and soundness of the arguments. Guys like Robert M. Price are very persuasive and have great personalities, which can make them difficult to wrestle with. As with any other careful study, don't let anything intimidate you; rather, deal with the arguments themselves and make sure you are careful. (This, of course, is not at all to suggest that the force of Price's arguments rest on his presentation--quite the opposite. It is merely to caution those who might get distracted and feel that they are on the losing side simply because the person sounds right.)

3. Study history! I'll admit it: my grasp of history is woeful; however, that is the case only insofar as I am terrible at remembering important dates and names, &c. Read and study history not merely to take in facts, but also to see how history works and operates.

4. Study those who disagree with you. If you listen to the podcast or read this blog, you probably already do that. But, as Price says, if you go into this thinking you'll be undone, you've given up the game already.

5. Consider where you rest your hope. We have seen historically the damage done by those who attempt to wed Aristotelian or Platonic or Cartesian or Nietzschean philosophy with Jesus and create a more palpable or logically understandable product. If we are honest, we know we are dealing with an incredibly complex issue (indeed, if we say that God does exist--and I do, I don't think it gets much more complicated than that!) Marrying one metanarrative to another does not always solve problems; often-times it only creates more of them. Remember that what we believe is "foolishness" so don't expect everything to come together as cleanly as we would all like.

Listen to the podcasts and wrestle with this stuff. I'm walking through it with you and it's all pretty new to me, too.


Blogger Zachary Moore said...

This is good advice, especially about learning exegesis. I'd say that about half of the Arguments from Silence (the letters of Paul) and nearly all of the Arguments from Ahistoricity are in this area. But I would think that you want to be careful not to subconsciously interpret yourself out a difficult situation- as Luther and Sproul have said, the text should be accessible as plain reading.

Aside from history, I think another area of study that would be beneficial is comparative mythology. Joseph Campbell is invaluable in this area. In the Arguments from Similarity, there will be discussions on a lot of different mythological characters, most of whom would almost never be mentioned otherwise. How often do we talk about Dionysus these days?

7/23/07, 6:15 AM  
Blogger Dan Sawyer said...

To echo points 3 and 5...

For point 3, if you're adjudicating on matters of history, it's imperative not just to know the relevant data, but also to know the method. I think this is what Butch is referring to when he says "How history works"

For point 5, Christians should check out "The Subversion of Christianity" by Jacques Ellul (in print from IVP and available online at, which makes this point at great length and with more intellectual honesty and rigor than I've seen any other theologian or apologist do.

8/2/07, 1:39 PM  

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