Sunday, December 08, 2019
Away From The Manger
I was neither going to read this article nor write about it; now I've done both. But only to say: there's absolutely nothing here.
Here are the points Tarico highlights:
1. No first century secular evidence whatsoever exists to support the actuality of Yeshua ben Yosef.
True. Then again, we don't have birth records for Paul of Tarsus, either. Or almost anybody except Pharaohs. We know Socrates was a person, not a figment of Plato's imagination (although he largely is, in Plato's dialogues), because of Aristophanes. There are no records of a peasant living on the fringes of empire who is crucified? And this surprises anyone? Do we understand record keeping of the kind we are familiar with is only a few hundred years old, at best? That genealogists go looking for baptismal records as records of birth going back into the early part of the 20th century in this country? Get your anachronisms out of the way and get back to me with a serious issue.
2. The earliest New Testament writers seem ignorant of the details of Jesus’ life, which become more crystalized in later texts.
No shit, Sherlock. This has only been known since at least the 4th century. When even the celebration of a Christ mass was being debated (it started in Egypt, already familiar with noting the birth dates of Pharoahs because they were gods), everyone acknowledged the actual date was unknown and unknowable. And it was fundamentalists in the 20th century who overlooked the discrepancies between the two nativity stories (out of four gospels), and insisted everything in the gospels was factually correct. Fundamentalism, indeed, is the problem, as Taricot and the scholars she cites (I note she never goes near Dom Crossan or other truly serious Biblical scholars) assume it is the baseline for Christianity, not a weird outlier in 2000+ years of Christianity.
3. Even the New Testament stories don’t claim to be first-hand accounts.
Again, only news to fundamentalists and literalists, not to the mass of Christianity across the world and throughout the ages. The Platonic/allegorical understanding of the scriptures that prevailed in Medieval Europe would probably astonish Taricot and the scholars she relies on.
4. The gospels, our only accounts of a historical Jesus, contradict each other.
Again (again!), a surprise only to fundamentalists, who insist such contradictions don't exist. To make a seasonal connection: Matthew has Jesus born in Bethlehem because that's where his parents live. They flee to Egypt when he's about 2, and return later to settle in Nazareth. Luke has them living in Nazareth but going to Bethlehem for a census history doesn't otherwise record, then returning to Nazareth. The stories of the birth are equally unreconcilable; no shepherds or angels in Matthew, no magi or star in Luke.
And the connections between they "synoptics" of Matthew, Mark, and Luke is not based on "linguistic analysis" but far simpler textual analysis, i.e.: the passages in common in all three gospels, and those unique to each, like the two nativity stories. This isn't rocket science, and it's not a discovery of 21st century scholars: it's been known for millennia, and some of the best work on the texts was done in the 19th century in Germany.
5. Modern scholars who claim to have uncovered the real historical Jesus depict wildly different persons.
Except the good scholars don't claim to have "uncovered" anything so much as to be re-evaluating texts and finding new readings, akin to feminist readings of Scripture that notice the silencing of women (Miriam's Song in Exodus is a prime example). Besides, the "real historical" Churchill would produce wildly different persons, too. That's kinda the way people are.
As for the atheist scholar Taricot cites, who disparages other scholars because they are religious believers; well: where you start IS where you end up, but no starting point is a guarantee of Truth. If you don't understand that, you aren't a scholar to begin with.
Posted by Rmj at 12:30 PM