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On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt

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Carrier argues that we need a more careful and robust theory of cultural syncretism between Jewish theology and politics of the second-temple period and the most popular features of pagan religion and philosophy of the time. For anyone intent on defending a historical Jesus, this is the book to challenge.

The revised edition corrects the numerous typographical and other minor errors listed in “Typos List for On the Historicity of Jesus” (at richardcarrier.info/archives/8551). Pagination remains substantially the same.
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SKU: 978-1-909697-35-5
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The assumption that Jesus existed as a historical person has occasionally been questioned in the course of the last hundred years or so, but any doubts that have been raised have usually been put to rest in favor of imagining a blend of the historical, the mythical and the theological in the surviving records of Jesus.

Carrier re-examines the whole question and finds compelling reasons to suspect the more daring assumption is correct. He lays out extensive research on the evidence for Jesus and the origins of Christianity and poses the key questions that must now be answered if the historicity of Jesus is to survive as a dominant paradigm.

Carrier contrasts the most credible reconstruction of a historical Jesus with the most credible theory of Christian origins if a historical Jesus did not exist. Such a theory would posit that the Jesus figure was originally conceived of as a celestial being known only through private revelations and hidden messages in scripture; then stories placing this being in earth history were crafted to communicate the claims of the gospel allegorically; such stories eventually came to be believed or promoted in the struggle for control of the Christian churches that survived the tribulations of the first century.

Carrier finds the latter theory more credible than has been previously imagined. He explains why it offers a better explanation for all the disparate evidence surviving from the first two centuries of the Christian era. He argues that we need a more careful and robust theory of cultural syncretism between Jewish theology and politics of the second-temple period and the most popular features of pagan religion and philosophy of the time. For anyone intent on defending a historical Jesus, this is the book to challenge.

Additional information

table of contenta

1. The Problem Isn’t This Just Bunk? The Debate Today Myth vs. History Mythicists vs. Historicists The Aim of This Book Summary of Remaining Chapters Applying Bayes’ Theorem Elements and Axioms 2. The Hypothesis of Historicity Myth from History The Basic Problem Hypothesis Formation and Prior Probability The Minimal Theory of Historicity 3. The Hypothesis of Myth From Inanna to Christ The Basic Problem The Minimal Jesus Myth Theory 4. Background Knowledge (Christianity) A Romulan Tale Background Knowledge Elemental Definitions Elemental Background Knowledge Elements of Christian Origin Elements of Christian Religion Elements of Christian Development 5. Background Knowledge (Context) Elements of Political Context Elements of Religious & Philosophical Context Elements of Literary Context Conclusion 6. The Prior Probability Heroes Who Never Existed Determining Prior Probability Using the Rank-Raglan Reference Class The Causal Objection The Alternative Class Objection The Complexity Objection Rapid Legendary Development Conclusion 7. Primary Sources What Counts as Evidence? Breaking Down the Evidence The Epistles The Gospels Acts Extra-Biblical Evidence The Problem of Compromised Evidence The Role of Consequent Probabilities Conclusion 8. Extrabiblical Evidence Jesus When? The Socrates Analogy Missing Evidence Missing Christian Evidence Clement of Rome Ignatius of Antioch Papias of Hierapolis Hegesippus Josephus and the Testimonia Flaviana Pliny & Tacitus Suetonius & Thallus Missing Evidence: Contra Myth Weighing the Evidence 9. The Evidence of Acts Acts as Historical Fiction What Happened to the Body? The Mysterious Vanishing Acts The ‘Trial Transcripts’ of Paul Stephen’s Trial Speech The Possibility of ‘Aramaic’ Sources Weighing the Evidence 10. The Evidence of the Gospels How to Invent a Gospel What Is Myth? Examining the Gospels The Mythology of Mark The Mythology of Matthew The Mythology of Luke The Mythology of John Weighing the Evidence 11. The Evidence of the Epistles The Passion of Pliny the Elder The Peculiar Indifference of Paul and His Christians Epistles from the Pillars The Earliest Gospels The Gospel in Hebrews Things Jesus Said The Eucharist Things Jesus Did Women and Sperm Brothers of the Lord Weighing the Evidence 12. Conclusion The Final Calculation On Trying to Avoid the Conclusion What We Should Conclude The Last Desperate Objection What Now?

Book information

Author
Richard Carrier
List Price
£60 / $95 / €70
Scholars' Price
£30 / $47.50 / €35
ISBN 13 hardback
978-1-909697-35-5
Paperback price
£25 / $35 / €29.50
ISBN 13 Paperback
978-1-909697-49-2
eBook price
£25 / $35 / €29.50
ISBN 13 eBook
978-1-909697-70-6
Format
Hardback / Paperback
Page Extent
xiv + 696
Publication Date
Jun-14
ISBN 13 revised hardback
978-1-914490-23-1
ISBN 13 revised paperback
978-1-914490-24-8
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