Friday, 4 July 2014

Initial reaction to “On the Historicity of Jesus”

Just finished a first reading of Carrier's On the Historicity of Jesus.

The short summary is that I think the book succeeds in its goal of establishing what the case is that needs to be answered by the historicists; it presents a detailed Bayesian argument (and thereby avoids being sucked into the morass of dubious methodology) covering every category of evidence (not focusing solely on nitpicking over individual details in Paul or Josephus) and referencing its points in some detail (it's very footnote-heavy).

I do expect, unfortunately, that it'll get a lot of response that doesn't really respect the Bayesian logic but just points to isolated factors (such as the aforesaid individual details in Paul). The real test, though, will be whether it gets any useful responses from experts; for which I guess we'll have to wait and see. (It goes without saying that a large contingent of Christian apologists will reject the book without making any attempt to make valid arguments against it.)