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The Jesus Legend: Overview

04/28/2011

http://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/6281_6762.pdf

http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/reviews/boyd_eddy.htm

And also Robert Price’s chapter in the Christian Delusion.

Good book, very exhaustive. I think it’s given me a good overview of what a conservative Christian may give as his strongest case, one that at least acknowledges that one should strive for a reasonable explanation. A lot of facts were not really verifiable, and as with so many cases, I don’t know how much of a full picture I’m getting. Do the responses cover all the contradictions and examples to the contrary? Does the oral tradition research really help their case? Is the research generalizable to ancient Jewish culture? Do so many scholars really have an a priori decision to rule out the supernatural?

According to Robert Price and Ken Olson, some of my intuitions were correct. I was suspicious of the research into oral tradition, and how generalizable it was. I was also a bit annoyed at the constant appeal to the possible, in the examples of the oral tradition, and of the harmonization of texts. I’m still not sure what to think about the alleged parallels in other Gods. I’ll have to think about that one. I was wondering if the scholars who were accused of presupposing naturalism were really doing so in a circular way. These were the same points brought up by Price and Olson.

So I remain skeptical about this whole reliable synoptic tradition thing. It seems to be a very difficult house of cards to build. It should be clear that one who alleges a supernatural occurrence, especially one so far back in time, with so few external verifications, and no ability to talk to any eye witness, not even any testimony from eye witnesses themselves, must show beyond a reasonable doubt, that their account of the facts were as written. It must be beyond simply showing that it’s possible that a tradition is reliable, or that it’s possible that accounts can be harmonized in a certain way. It must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that their account of the facts is the most likely, and that the miraculous occurrences are more likely than incorrect facts, lying, exaggeration. I do not believe that the authors were successfully able to do this, mostly because of their lack of support for the reliability of the oral tradition, specifically in the Jewish community.

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