Saturday , November 17 2018
Home / Robert Murphy: Free Advice / Was Jesus Just a Myth?

Was Jesus Just a Myth?

Summary:
I meant to post this Sunday but I am traveling… In a recent potpourri post, Scott Alexander says: Gwern reviews On The Historicity Of Jesus. Short version: the prose is annoying, but the case that Jesus was completely mythical (as opposed to a real teacher whose deeds were exaggerated) is more plausible than generally supposed. Please read the review before commenting about this topic. I was all excited to sink my teeth into an articulate, well-researched challenge to my worldview. But see for yourself. Literally the only actual claim in the review that I can even evaluate was this one involving Paul: Combined with the old observations about the extensive euhemerism of mystery cult figures (along with more documented recent examples of religions emerging &

Topics:
Robert Murphy considers the following as important:

This could be interesting, too:

Robert Murphy writes God’s Instructions for Israel’s Kings

Robert Murphy writes The Truth About God

Robert Murphy writes Wisdom About Debt From the Mosaic Code

Robert Murphy writes The Possible Utility of Mosaic Dietary Code

I meant to post this Sunday but I am traveling…

In a recent potpourri post, Scott Alexander says:

Gwern reviews On The Historicity Of Jesus. Short version: the prose is annoying, but the case that Jesus was completely mythical (as opposed to a real teacher whose deeds were exaggerated) is more plausible than generally supposed. Please read the review before commenting about this topic.

I was all excited to sink my teeth into an articulate, well-researched challenge to my worldview. But see for yourself. Literally the only actual claim in the review that I can even evaluate was this one involving Paul:

Combined with the old observations about the extensive euhemerism of mystery cult figures (along with more documented recent examples of religions emerging & retroactively historicizing their ‘founders’), complete with detailed sober historical biographies of demigods we know never existed in any way, the almost total absence of any mention of Gospel events inside Paul’s (heavily-edited) letters despite extensive opportunities for allusions while instead talking about Jesus and his martyrdom by demonic “archons” in ways highly suspiciously consistent with a celestial Jesus (with the best mention being the very vague “brother of the lord” which would be good if Christianity hadn’t made a fetish of family tropes and titles and used those sorts of terms quite indiscriminately)

(In the quotation above, I’ve included the beginning of the sentence just to give a flavor of the review.)

So like I said, that was literally the one claim that I could even parse, and understand how it was a challenge to the historicity of Jesus. The only problem is, Paul says stuff like this (from 1 Corinthians 15):

Now I would remind you, brothers,[a] of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

The Resurrection of the Dead

12 Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. 15 We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in Christ we have hope[b] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

So I think it’s fair to say that Paul does the exact opposite of what the book reviewer claims. He refers to gospel events, and in fact bases the Christian faith itself on the historical fact that Jesus died and rose again.

I realize I have a dog in this fight, but I am astonished that Scott Alexander pointed his readers to such a nonsensical book review on a rather important topic. I am happy to hear pushback on this.

Robert Murphy
Christian, Austrian economist, and libertarian theorist. Research Prof at Texas Tech and author of *Choice*. Paul Krugman's worst nightmare.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *