Not All Atheists are Mythicists With Regard to the Historicity of Jesus

Tim Callahan, author of The Secret Origins of the Bible and book editor for the Skeptic Magazine, John Shook, myself, and recently Daniel Florien all think there was an original historical founder to the Jesus cult. I'm wondering if the major impetus for atheists to think otherwise came from the movie The God Who Wasn't There. It was handed out for free to people who took the Blasphemy Challenge which in turn catapulted this line of thought among atheists. In any case, this is a historical question that people disagree on, and that's it. What I find interesting is that people are so passionate about this one way or another. It's like church all over again where denominations have split over inconsequential issues. You see, we all have this tendency to want conformity, and THAT is something you shouldn't expect in the freethought society because we're, well, freethinkers. It's like trying to herd cats.

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42 comments:

Don said...

I just finished "Jesus Under Fire". It is the worst book I have ever read. That said, it has helped confirm, for me, the existence of a real human Jesus not divine (the arguments were horrible). The position of "The Jesus Seminar" which the authors were trying to refute seemed to me the more reasonable. The last chapter dealt with extra biblical references to Jesus, and while the author may be biased, they indicate a rapid spread of a new cult originating in Judea calling themselves "The Way" or "Christos". As an atheist I wonder what the original message was and why it spread so fast, and if, absent the presupposition of the divine, it could be inferred from the existing evidence.

x said...

How fast did christianity actually spread? Has it spread faster then scientology?

Jon said...

The major impetus for me was the work of Doherty and Robert Price.

What I find disappointing about this debate amongst atheists is the dismissive nature of the historicists. I find that historicists place heavy emphasis on the fact that mythicism is fringe. John, you like to talk about how your position is superior in that a Christian will find you to be more reasonable. None of that contributes to the argument. Let's have an argument based on substance.

And it seems that it is always the mythicist that wants to have the debate. How about a public debate between an atheist historicist, like Bart Ehrman, and an atheist mythicst, like Robert Price. The tendency seems to be that the mythicists want to see this debate happen, but the historicist just wants to dismiss the question with a wave of the hand.

I could be wrong in siding with Price, but the dismissive nature of the historicists is never going to make any difference to me. Who (besides J.P. Holding) has really even taken the time to try and refute Doherty and Price? Forget about who's right and who's wrong. Who of the caliber of Robert Price is even making an effort to refute him? I don't see it.

Jon said...

And the audio of your debate finally went up.

http://www.sjcnc.org/news.aspx#2010218954429220763248238

Mat Wilder said...

I think you're right Jon - it mostly comes from Price and Doherty. I've never seen "The God Who Wasn't There" but have read pretty much everything by Price and Doherty on Internet Infidels. I also think you're right about the dismissive nature of historicists. I'm not certain exactly what I think about the matter, but I think Christianity is false either way. It's an interesting historical question, though, in its own right.

Richard H said...

I think the question 'Did Jesus exist?' is ill-framed.

As literally stated, it has a trivial answer. Interpreted more liberally, it imposes a false choice.

Instead, we should be asking, "How many historical Jesuses existed?"

No one can seriously argue that Jesus existed exactly as described in the bible. That's objectively impossible.

So, "Jesus existed" can only mean, "There a historical figure whose life significantly inspired the stories of the gospel."

Whenever I've seen this debate play out, it always runs into the problem of defining 'significant'.

There probably were guys named Jesus. There probably were probably messianic Jewish sects. Even some of the legends probably could be traced back to something that someone, somewhere, sort of did.

Given this, I think we can reasonably say, "At least several historical Jesuses existed, in the sense of people who contributed to the modern body of stories."

I have yet to see a great argument that the above is true, and that we can know that they were all the same individual.

Dan said...

How is the evidence for Jesus' historical existence any stronger or more compelling than any other important mythological individual?

If we are to use the same standard of evidence, then it is probable that other god-men like Hercules, Perseus, etc, etc also existed as historical figures. In fact, the evidence for the historical existence of such individuals is significantly stronger than that for Jesus, as we have many stories, accounts of their lives, and works of art depicting them.

If there is any blame to go around for the general lack of credulity in a historical Jesus among many atheists, that blame lies with theologians and historians for failing to present compelling evidence that supports their case for a historical Jesus.

It also doesn't help matters when theologians and historians (and bloggers) rip into people who disbelieve in a historical Jesus as if those who disagree with them are simpletons and morons who have no rational basis for holding the opinions they do. All it does is drive those people further away from your point of view.

Make a compelling case with compelling evidence, and you will be believed. Otherwise, stop acting so self-righteously, as if people who are skeptical of Jesus' historicity are akin to holocaust deniers or flat-earthers. It reflects more on you than it does on them.

Tyro said...

Why are you trying to psychoanalyze mythicists instead of considering whether the evidence and arguments are persuasive? I'm sure that you meet many people who, instead of listening to you, try to find psychological reasons for your disagreement.

As for "passionate", you tell us why you get so worked up when discussing the issue. I'm thinking it's a combination of the passion people generally feel when they think they aren't being heard. Not just mythicists, I think historicists feel similarly. In general I don't care too much about it, just think it's an interesting question but I really dislike the way that, instead of dealing with it seriously the historicists tend to sling abuse, inflate the evidence and slam the mythicist arguments without bothering to read or understand them. (Not thinking specifically of you, seen this in so-called scholars and many otherwise educated people.)

Re: "The God Who Wasn't There" or the execrable "Zeitgeist", what an insulting suggestion! I've never heard anyone here endorse them, none of the resources we've linked to has endorsed them and mythicism has been a subject for ages, far before these movies came out. How would you like it if someone suggested that the only reason you were an historicist was because of the "Jesus Crypt" documentary?

And while you mention Florien (who doesn't present any argument and isn't an historian) but don't mention the long, detailed counter-arguments. As with my reaction to James McGrath, I'd be far more impressed if people didn't just harp on about their beliefs but listened to the opposing sides and presented counter-arguments. Isn't that what you and others have blasted Dawkins & others for failing to do? The ironic double standard is not lost on me.

Dan said...

In general I don't care too much about it, just think it's an interesting question but I really dislike the way that, instead of dealing with it seriously the historicists tend to sling abuse, inflate the evidence and slam the mythicist arguments without bothering to read or understand them
I am in 100% agreement with this, and I think many others feel this same way in regard to the general attitude of many historicists.

AdamK said...

I'm also in agreement with Tyro. (I just typed "Typo," but that was a typo.)

The "passion" is just frustration. The mythicist case is more compelling than historicists give it credit for.

It also doesn't matter a whit with regards to atheism. Whether some person existed or not has nothing to do with the supernatural claims, which are false.

I don't think the historical question is decidable given the dearth of historical evidence.

I'm perfectly comfortable with saying "we don't know." We don't have the necessary facts on record, and the mythic and historic arguments are both plausible. That's where the question will stay, unless better evidence is unearthed.

AdamK said...

(I never saw the film. I heard it wasn't very good.)

choda boy said...

Agree with your premise. Mythicism is much more prominent on the internet than in normal daily life.

I have not seen the movie and suspect very few people have. I would also venture that most atheists do not read about christianity or religion in general, they simply are not very interested.

If they do become interested and begin to read, it may well dawn on them that this religious hero is no more likely to be real than any other.

Jim said...

"I don't know" is good enough for me.

I enjoy Robert Price and Bart Ehrman equally.

"Jesus was a real person" and "Jesus was simply myth"--I'm not bothered either way.

I've been studying/reading for years, and I didn't even realize there was this much animosity between the camps. I thought it was just a case of there being two different, but plausible "theories" with evidence for both.

Hmmmmmmm.

Vinny said...

Many liberal Christian or atheist historicists seem willing to concede that the historical Jesus may have been so mythologized as to be virtually irretrievable (which is where I think I come down). It seems to me to be a very short step to the hypothesis that Jesus is entirely mythologized but it is a step that the historicists vehemently oppose.

J. J. Ramsey said...

"What I find interesting is that people are so passionate about this one way or another."

I think the reason for this is fairly straightforward. Take a look, for example, at GakuseiDon's web pages on The God Who Wasn't There, Earl Doherty, etc. The repeated theme is that the mythicists' case is based on pseudohistory: quote mines, a fanciful and unhistorical take on Middle Platonism, and other misinformation. I'm not interested in an time-sinking argument about mythicism here, but rather simply want to point out that mythicism has a (IMHO, deserved) reputation for crankery, and that's why the non-mythicists get passionate about the mythicists.

Erp said...

I would also classify myself as a historicist (and atheistic).

I think denying a original human Jesus is going one step too far because it leads to the question of what did start the movement given the movement does not place its founder in the legendary past but within living memory.

Chris Jones said...

Back when I deconverted, I found reocmmended reading lists that included many mythicist books such as Doherty, Wells, Wheeless, etc, and I was drawn to these. Now I'm fairly sure I was drawn to those because it was much easier for my mind to process a view that Jesus never existed at all than it was to work through the rather long list of unbelievable feats and traits and figure out how to account for how people might have come to write these things. I was a mythicist for some years.

Then I ran into several well-read atheists who were seriously into the "Quest for the Historical Jesus", who persuaded me to broaden my reading and consider that there is a case to be made for a historical human Jesus with a mythical layer added on over the years. Accordingly, I did go through quite a pile of books from people of many backgrounds.

My conclusion after comparative reading is mostly in favor of the apocalyptic/eschatological prophet view, as portrayed by Ehrman, Sanders, and Vermes. Laying out a case for this isn't especially easy as my conclusion came over time and after a lot of reading and pondering. I have no stake in the existence of a historical Jesus, no emotional attachment whatsoever. I was quite comfortable as a mythicist and gained nothing material nor any added peace of mind or emotional satisfaction from changing my view. It simply is what it is -- a view that changed for no reason other than that I read, reflected, and was persuaded.

Again, while I can't and won't lay out a case, I can summarize a few broader points:
* That certain features of the stories just aren't the sort of thing that strike me as making sense if the entire Jesus character is made up (too much polemical effort for a fictitious character)
* That there is a very plausible and contextually consistent reconstruction available: A completely human Jewish apocalyptic preacher at the core which can be separated from the greco-roman elements
* That the continually growing layers of myth (the "fish story", no pun intended) are apparent when laying out the same stories according to their chronological dating (later variations become more mythical) -- as demonstrated by Vermes in "The Changing Faces of Jesus"
* That Paul refers to James as the "Brother of the Lord", which ties in with:
* The reference in Josephus' "Jewish War" to "James, brother of Jesus, the one called Christ". While there is much dispute over the extent of the Testimonium Flavianum (Antiquities of the Jews) which is authentic (i.e., whether a core is authentic or the whole thing is interpolated), the Jewish War reference is accepted by virtually all scholars as authentic in its entirety.

And having read and at one time accepted the bulk of mythicist writings, I'm aware of the arguments against Paul's reference to "brother of the Lord" not actually meaning a literal biological brother, as well as the arguments for the other elements which would seem to argue for an earth walking human Jesus ("born of a woman", descendent of David, etc) not being reliable in this sense. I'm just not persuaded. Even when I accepted a mythicist position, I was always uneasy with the dismissal of Paul's references that seem to refer to a human Jesus as they always felt a bit contrived to sweep a very rough edge on the mythicist position under the rug. Because I bought the overall argument, I went with those anyway, figuring they must be valid despite feeling a bit hokey because I had bought into the rest of the argument and needed to accept this part as well in order to make the whole mythicist viewpoint work.

I'm not posting at this time to enter a flame war over whether there was a historical Jesus. I posted to show that I have given mythicism a fair shake, but there were tangible elements that persuaded me, and not just a whimsical flip-flopping. Again, there is a heap of stuff underlying each of those points that collectively persuaded me.

Vinny said...

Erp,

It could be that Paul's hallucinatory vision started the Christian movement similarly to the way that Joseph Smith's hallucinatory vision started the Mormon movement. Unfortunately Paul didn't read a demonstrably batshit-crazy historical narrative out of a hat like Joseph Smith did. With Smith, we feel pretty good about concluding that it all came out of his own head. With Paul its harder to say how much came out of his head, how much came out of the heads of others who had visions, and how much might actually be traced back to a historical person.

I find it hard to come down definitively on either side of the debate since I figure that both the historical Jesus and the mythical Jesus are equally irretrievable.

Steven Carr said...

'Tim Callahan, author of The Secret Origins of the Bible and book editor for the Skeptic Magazine, John Shook, myself, and recently Daniel Florien all think there was an original historical founder to the Jesus cult.'

Perhaps they are right. I think they have a 50/50 chance of being right.

After all,Popeye was based on a real historical person, so anything is possible.

Steven Carr said...

Tom Verenna has a list of some of the more important Historical Jesus's that were active in the first century AD.

'An itinerate preacher, a cynical sage, the Essene’s righteous rabbi, a Galilean holy man, a revolutionary leader, an apocalyptic preacher, a proto-liberation theologian, a trance-inducing mental healer, an eschatological prophet, an occultic magician, a Pharisee,a rabbi who seeks religious-reformation, a Galilean charismatic, a Hillelite, an Essene, a teacher of wisdom, miracle-working exorcist-prophet,....'

Kel said...

I really don't think it matters too much whether there was a man behind the cult or not. If that's the path one takes, then how much does the historical Jesus and biblical Jesus overlap? Did the cult leader walk on water, heal the sick, or raise the dead? We'd relegate those to myth. What about preached the sermon on the mount? Crucified? Fled from a murderous King Herod?

What concerns me is that people tend to equivocate, that is take whatever historical figure there was and proclaim that's the biblical figure.

Vincent Harrison said...

All Dr. McGrath has to offer is ridicule of the mythicist position, by constantly trying to compare it to creationism (red-herring argument to me). It's the same Jesus-believing Christians pushing those creationism views, not mythicists.

What I've seen in the various blogs here represents fear, biases and prejudice against the mythicist position. The more I learn about the mythicist position, the less impressive NT scholarship becomes.

If you're going to attempt to debunk mythicism then it's probably wise to actually be knowledgable about mythicism first. There's much Dr. McGrath and others here seem utterly unaware of concerning the mythicist position. I can only guess you are wilfully choosing to ignore it.

"Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance."

- Albert Einstein

The Origins of Christianity and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Christ

Jesus as the Sun throughout History

Astrotheology of the Ancients

Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection

The Mythicist Position

ZEITGEIST Part 1 & The Supportive Evidence

Professional NT Historian is taking on the mythicists

Religion and the PhD: A Brief History

J. J. Ramsey said...

Vincent Harrison, you just posted a bunch of stuff by Acharya S, who even on FRDB is regarded as a crank. For example, when Acharya S attempts to liken the movements of the sun, she writes, "The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30 [degrees]; hence, the 'Sun of God' begins his ministry at 'age' 30," it turns out that she is being anachronistic.

Steven Carr said...

JJ is right.

There is as little evidence for the '12' being derived from the Zodiac as for the mainstream view that Jesus had 12 disciples because there had been 12 tribes of Israel.

Vincent Harrison said...

First off, she was citing someone else. The claim that "she is being anachronistic" may not be accurate. Even Wikipedia explains:

"The ancient Egyptian calendar had a year that was 365 days long and was divided into 12 months of 30 days each, plus five extra days at the end of the year... c. 3000 BCE"

It's easy to create a similar calendar with a circle divided into 12 equal parts. Which in fact do equal 30 degrees for each of the 12 parts totaling 360.

Yes, we know that the gospel 12 is supposed to be based on the 12 tribes, & what we also know is that the 12 tribes were identified even in ancient times as being reflective of the 12 signs of the zodiac. See the quotes from Josephus and Philo here -

Were the 12 Tribes of Israel Based on the Zodiac?
http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=2639

Or in the excerpt above titled, Jesus as the sun throughout history:

"The zodiac is mentioned in the Bible at Job 38:32 ... Strong's Concordance (H4216) defines "mazzaroth" or mazzarah as "the 12 signs of the Zodiac ..."

We also know that other gods were surrounded by 12 "followers," "helpers," etc. & we know from the myths of Mithra and Aesclepius, for example, that this motif absolutely has to do with sun & the 12 signs of the zodiac. You can only make dismissive comments if you don't know these facts. The 12 in the case of Horus have to do with the hours of the day & night. Acharya's got a whole 24-page chapter in "Christ in Egypt" & another 15-page chapter in "Christ Conspiracy" on "The 12" - there's a huge body of research on this subject, not something you can just dismiss in a sentence simply repeating mainstream status-quo beliefs based in ignorance & knee-jerk reactions.

I have yet to see anyone at IIDB/FRDB who really knows her work - they are the cranks. Her work is some of the best on the subject but the misogyny, intellectual dishonesty, smears & libel against her are the worst I've seen.

J. J. Ramsey said...

Vincent: "It's easy to create a similar calendar with a circle divided into 12 equal parts."

True, but irrelevant.

"Which in fact do equal 30 degrees ..."

But only someone who knows to describe the measure of an angle in degrees would know that, and that system of measure dates from the 2nd century C.E.

Vincent: "We also know that other gods were surrounded by 12 'followers,' 'helpers,' etc.& we know from the myths of Mithra and Aesclepius ..."

That you have to put "followers" or "helpers" in quotes in the first place is telling. For example, there is certainly iconography of depictions of Mithras surrounded by signs of the zodiac, but no indications that the signs are supposed to be any kind of followers or even sentient agents.

What's missing from what Acharya has to offer--at least in the link that you gave--is an indication that the idea of the twelve tribes came from the idea of the zodiac, rather than that "twelve" was regarded as a special number, much as three, seven, or forty were, and then applied in various contexts. What Acharya S gives is either old references to the zodiac with no indications of links to the twelve tribes or very late references circa 1st century from two Hellenistic Jews, Philo and Josephus, that associate the stones on the ephod with zodiac signs and avoid referring to the twelve tribes. That's pretty strewy evidence.

Steven Carr said...

JJ RAMSEY
What Acharya S gives is either old references to the zodiac with no indications of links to the twelve tribes or very late references circa 1st century from two Hellenistic Jews, Philo and Josephus, that associate the stones on the ephod with zodiac signs and avoid referring to the twelve tribes

CARR
Without wishing to defend Archarya S, these 'very late references circa 1st century' appear to be roughly the same date as Revelation or Matthew.

There is zero evidence for the mainstream Biblical scholarship view that Jesus chose to have 12 disciples because there had been 12 tribes of Israel.

But you don't get called a crank if you support things with no evidence for them, provided it is mainstream Biblical guesswork.

J. J. Ramsey said...

Carr: "Without wishing to defend Archarya S, these 'very late references circa 1st century' appear to be roughly the same date as Revelation or Matthew."

But that's not helpful if Acharya S is trying to sell the idea that astrotheology has been an ongoing religious theme throughout the centuries.

Carr: "There is zero evidence for the mainstream Biblical scholarship view that Jesus chose to have 12 disciples because there had been 12 tribes of Israel."

Well, if you insist that it is equally likely that poor, uneducated Palestinian Jews would have heard of the zodiac as heard of the twelve tribes or be more sympathetic to alluding to the former as the latter, hey, what can I say?

Steven Carr said...

There is zero evidence for any Jesus deciding to have 12 disciples because there were 12 tribes.

Just as there is zero evidence for any Jesus deciding to have 12 disciples because there were 12 signs in the Zodiac.

I do indeed think that zero equals zero.

I see no reason for sarcasm directed at people who think that zero equals zero....

Vincent Harrison said...

JJ, What evidence do you have that the 360-degree circle and year were not divided into 12 parts before the second century CE?

The ancient astronomer Geminos specifically discusses the division of the 12 months into 30 degrees each, and he is dated to either the first century BCE / first century CE.

http://books.google.com/books?id=HPBE3RbeceQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=gemino+evans&cd=1#v=onepage&q=on%20the%20circle%20of%20the%20signs&f=false

And the article I previously sent from Wiki has the 12-30 measure around 3,000 BCE. Evidently you are just choosing to ignore these facts.

I am putting "followers" and "helpers" in quotes because, in the Egyptian mythology at least, these 12 are PERSONIFIED as subordinates to Horus. The point is not whether or not all versions of the 12 are "real people" who have sentience but that the motif of the god with the 12 is very old and is just being repeated in Christianity. Nothing you have said refutes that fact. In fact, you are just throwing up red herrings to distract from the real issue, which is that the motif of the 12 and 30 is very ancient.

As concerns the 12 tribes and the zodiac, I would wager that you did not even know about the testimony of Josephus and Philo. Instead of being honest about that fact - which clearly associates the tribes with the signs of the zodiac - you are trying to nitpick the motif to make it meaningless. It isn't. The fact will remain that during the first part of the first century of the common era there was an influential writer (Philo) who associated the 12 tribes of the zodiac - and this was before there is any real evidence of Jesus and the 12 disciples. Philo is not a "very late reference" - he is absolutely in the right time.

I can see that the goal posts will continue to be moved, no matter what evidence we raise up. And there will be no acknowledgment of facts you previously did not know, even though to me they are really fascinating. The works by Acharya are far better than she'll ever get credit for around here. Here I can only expect to see endless straw man arguments and hand-waving dismissals.

"Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance."

— Albert Einstein

skeptic griggsy said...

I thin Wells now is an historicist whilst Richard Carries is now a mythicist. Anyway there is a gross distortion of comparing Price to Acharya as she uses nonsense whilst he uses what we perhaps know.
Anyway, as noted @ Skeptic Society Forums @ the thread J.Christ, jerk; Christinsanity @ PhysOrg, the Buy bull and only aman, Yeshua @ Amazon Religion Discussion Forum and Richard Dawkin's site.

skeptic griggsy said...

I think Wells now is an historicist whilst Richard Carries is now a mythicist. Anyway there is a gross distortion of comparing Price to Acharya as she uses nonsense whilst he uses what we perhaps know.
Anyway, as noted @ Skeptic Society Forums @ the thread J.Christ, jerk; Christinsanity @ PhysOrg, the Buy bull and only aman, Yeshua @ Amazon Religion Discussion Forum and Richard Dawkin's site, he was a fanatic cult leader. See Jako Miklos's, deist, " Confronting Believers" for his comments on the scam of the ages that Yeshua was a moral leader. He was a jerk1

Steven Carr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Carr said...

'I think Wells now is an historicist whilst Richard Carries is now a mythicist.'

Yes, mythicists are noted for their sheer dogmatism and total inability to concede anything no matter what the evidence.

Wells, being one of those mythicists, changed his mind when he was persuaded by others of the existence of Q.

But, as it happens, the existence of Q is now under heavy fire.

Which teaches us two things...

Mythicists are not dogmatic.

Mainstream Biblical scholarship does not have the ability to decide what did or did not exist 2000 years ago.

J. J. Ramsey said...

Vincent: "The ancient astronomer Geminos specifically discusses the division of the 12 months into 30 degrees each, and he is dated to either the first century BCE / first century CE."

It would be helpful if, instead of handwaving toward Geminos making references to "on the circle of the signs," you actually pointed to where he himself used a system of dividing a circle into 360 degrees.

Vincent: "And the article I previously sent from Wiki has the 12-30 measure around 3,000 BCE."

Close, but no cigar. Acharya S clearly describes an angle measure saying, "The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30 [degrees]," not talking about the length of a month. Furthermore, the length of 30 days comes from a lunar cycle not a solar one, and over the centuries, the length of a month has been tweaked to be less than or greater than 30 days to fit better with a solar cycle.

Vincent Harrison said...

JJ "It would be helpful if, instead of handwaving toward Geminos making references to "on the circle of the signs," you actually pointed to where he himself used a system of dividing a circle into 360 degrees."

LMAO! You mean like this:

"each of the twelfth-parts is divided into 30 parts; and each piece is called a degree ... the whole circle of signs contains 12 signs, or 360 degrees Sun passes through the zodiac circle in a year"

http://books.google.com/books?id=HPBE3RbeceQC&printsec=frontcover&dq=gemino+evans&cd=1#v=onepage&q=the%20whole%20circle%20of%20signs%20contains%2012%20signs%2C%20or%20360%20degrees%20Sun%20passes%20through%20the%20zodiac%20circle%20in%20a%20year&f=false

You didn't even read the link I gave you or you would've already seen Geminos' discussion on that issue on pages 113 & 114. Geminos is a primary source just prior to the very time period in question regarding Jesus and the creation of Christianity. That makes his work significant - maybe you didn't know any of this either.

JJ "Close, but no cigar. Acharya S clearly describes an angle measure saying, "The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30 [degrees],"

Actually, Acharya cited this very book pages 113 & 114 for that comment.

"not talking about the length of a month"

Even Wikipedia explains:

"The ancient Egyptian calendar had a year that was 365 days long and was divided into 12 months of 30 days each, plus five extra days at the end of the year... c. 3000 BCE"

12x30 = 360


JJ "the length of 30 days comes from a lunar cycle not a solar one"

You don't know much about calendars do you. That is just false. The 30 would be the synodic month which is actually 29.5 which is off 1 day every 2 months on average. A better Lunar calendar would be 28 days of 13 months 13x28 = 364 plus one, because there are 13 full moons in a year.


Herodotus, 5th century BCE, regarding Egypt:

"The Egyptians...were the first to discover the solar year, and to portion out its course into twelve parts. They obtained this knowledge from the stars... (To my mind they contrive their year much more cleverly than the Greeks, for these last every other year intercalate a whole month, but the Egyptians, dividing the year into twelve months of thirty days each, add every year a space of five days besides...)"

- Christ in Egypt, page 214-215

http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/christinegypt.html


Again, I can see that the goal posts will continue to be moved, no matter what evidence we raise up. And there will be no acknowledgment of facts you previously did not know, even though to me they are really fascinating. The works by Acharya are far better than she'll ever get credit for around here. Here I can only expect to see endless straw man arguments and hand-waving dismissals.

"Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance."

— Albert Einstein

J. J. Ramsey said...

Vincent: "You didn't even read the link I gave you or you would've already seen Geminos' discussion on that issue on pages 113 & 114."

Actually, I did, but there was so much irrelevant material to slog through that I figured you were handwaving. Thank you for finally getting around to providing a relevant link.

Vincent: "You don't know much about calendars do you. That is just false. The 30 would be the synodic month which is actually 29.5 which is off 1 day every 2 months on average."

Ahem, FWIW, the synodic month "is the average period of the Moon's revolution with respect to the sun."

I will concede, though, that Acharya S, in this instance, isn't as anachronistic as I thought.

J. J. Ramsey said...

With the above said, let's look at the rest of her mini-astrotheology, shall we:

The sun "dies" for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th, when it resumes its movement north.

This is a clear anachronism, since celebrating Jesus' birth on December 25 comes long after the advent of Christianity.

In some areas, the calendar originally began in the constellation of Virgo, and the sun would therefore be "born of a Virgin."

Again, with the scare quotes. If you have to put quotes around "followers" or "helpers" or "born," that's already a sign of a stretched fit to begin with. The birth narratives of Jesus have far closer parallels to stories of, say, Alexander the Great or Augustus having divine parentage, and they appear to be relatively late additions to the legends about Jesus at that.

The sun is the "Light of the World."

Errm, light is so frequently used as a symbol of goodness that this is a trivial coincidence at best.

The sun "cometh on clouds, and every eye shall see him."

The sun does not rest on a bed of clouds. That's transparently obvious on a clear day.

The sun rising in the morning is the "Savior of mankind."

Um, the rising of the sun isn't saving mankind from some kind of crisis. That's just a mundane part of the daily cycle.

The sun wears a corona, "crown of thorns" or halo.

Except the sun's corona is made of light, not thorns. The "thorns" bit completely shoehorned in.

The sun "walks on water."

Wait, you just said that it comes on clouds. Which is moving on, clouds or water? Oh, that's right, neither.

The sun's "followers," "helpers" or "disciples" are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun must pass.

We discussed this already. The only real connection is with the number twelve, and that number is so ubiquitous as to make this a useless coincidence.

The sun at 12 noon is in the house or temple of the "Most High"; thus, "he" begins "his Father's work" at "age" 12.

The idea of the sun even being in a temple at 12 noon seems to come from, well, nowhere. Again, this relies on the ubiquity of the number 12.

The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30 [degrees]; hence, the "Sun of God" begins his ministry at "age" 30.

A coincidence that would be made more interesting if 30 weren't a round number and there were several other nontrivial coincidences.

The sun is hung on a cross or "crucified," which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected.

Again, the scare quotes are a bad sign, and Easter isn't even on the day of the vernal Equinox.

There's another reason to be skeptical of Acharya S's astrotheological scheme: the lack of a trajectory where one would start at the assorted features of the sun and end up at the Christian story. What we have looks like the outcome of someone starting with Christianity in mind and then searching for details about the sun that kinda sorta fit. Emphasis is put on minor details such as Jesus teaching in the temple at 12 or starting his ministry at 30, while major aspects of Christianity, such as its apocalyptic ideas about the end of the current age, or judgment, or the emphasis on a bodily resurrection, or its relationship with Judaism, are glossed over. One would expect that if someone started with the sun in mind, then the broad strokes of Christianity would resemble the broad strokes of what the ancients knew about the sun, but this is not what we see at all from the astrotheology here.

Vincent Harrison said...

"the synodic month "is the average period of the Moon's revolution with respect to the sun.""

That is not worded correctly the synodic 29.5 is not the "average" it is measured from New Moon to New Moon which is defined as when the Moon has the same ecliptic longitude as the Sun. A sidereal month is 27.322 days and when combined with other factors the mean or average is around 28 days. That's how the Egyptians came up with the 14 days of the waxing and 14 days for the waning moon. That's why Osiris was split into 14 pieces. But you don't know anything about that either do you.

JJ "Thank you for finally getting around to providing a relevant link."

It was nearly the same ... the same pages were right there.

The sun "dies" for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th, when it resumes its movement north.

JJ "This is a clear anachronism, since celebrating Jesus' birth on December 25 comes long after the advent of Christianity."

Nope, the Dec 25th or winter solstice celebrations were around a few thousand years prior to Jesus or Christmas. You're really wearing out that "anachronistic card."

The sun is the "Light of the World."

JJ "Errm, light is so frequently used as a symbol of goodness that this is a trivial coincidence at best."

Er, the sun is the light of the world, silly ... without the sun there'd be no life on earth as we know it.

The sun "cometh on clouds, and every eye shall see him."

JJ "The sun does not rest on a bed of clouds. That's transparently obvious on a clear day."

LOL, you act like you've never been outside before. It's a figure of speech fruity, the sun is up in the sky like the clouds. Wow, what a real stickler you are.

The sun rising in the morning is the "Savior of mankind."

JJ "Um, the rising of the sun isn't saving mankind from some kind of crisis. That's just a mundane part of the daily cycle."

Again, you don't get it. There'd be no life on earth as we know it were it not for the sun & moon. Even the ancients figured that one out.

The sun wears a corona, "crown of thorns" or halo.

JJ "Except the sun's corona is made of light, not thorns. The "thorns" bit completely shoehorned in."

Again, you don't get it, You've never seen sun rays? There's loads of symbolism of the 7 rays of the sun and the crown of thorns in art. Wow, there's too much info on this subject, you need to actually study this subject rather than your typical hand-waving dismissals.

Vincent Harrison said...

The sun "walks on water."

JJ "Wait, you just said that it comes on clouds. Which is moving on, clouds or water? Oh, that's right, neither."

It's both Mr. no imagination whatsoever - the sun is obviously in the sky (in case you didn't notice that either) and its light is reflected off the water.

The sun's "followers," "helpers" or "disciples" are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun must pass.

"We discussed this already. The only real connection is with the number twelve, and that number is so ubiquitous as to make this a useless coincidence."

It's only a "coincidence to you because you obviously don't know anything about this subject.

The sun at 12 noon is in the house or temple of the "Most High"; thus, "he" begins "his Father's work" at "age" 12.

JJ "The idea of the sun even being in a temple at 12 noon seems to come from, well, nowhere. Again, this relies on the ubiquity of the number 12."

Actually, if you ever studied this subject you'd know the Egyptians made a big deal of this one. The sun in its 'most high' simply means the sun is in it's most powerful position at 12 noon.

The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30 [degrees]; hence, the "Sun of God" begins his ministry at "age" 30.

JJ "A coincidence that would be made more interesting if 30 weren't a round number and there were several other nontrivial coincidences."

We've already discussed this. All you're doing is demonstrating how little you know about this subject.

The sun is hung on a cross or "crucified," which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected.

JJ "Again, the scare quotes are a bad sign, and Easter isn't even on the day of the vernal Equinox."

It was originally until they decided to connect it to the moon phase as well - keeping it in the realm of astrotheology.

JJ "Emphasis is put on minor details...while major aspects of Christianity, such as its apocalyptic ideas...are glossed over"

That's categorically false and proves you've never read any of her work.

Again, I can see that the goal posts will continue to be moved, no matter what evidence we raise up. And there will be no acknowledgment of facts you previously did not know, even though to me they are really fascinating. The works by Acharya are far better than she'll ever get credit for around here. Here I can only expect to see endless straw man arguments and hand-waving dismissals.

"Condemnation without investigation is the height of ignorance."

— Albert Einstein

This is pretty much off topic here in this blog. All JJ has to offer is more of the same ignorance on the subject and hand-waving dismissals of an authors work JJ has never studied and knows nothing about. I see no reason to respond to anymore of JJ's nonsense. JJ has been demonstrated to wrong ever time. No need to me to waste anymore of my time here correctly errors and spoon-feeding those who refuse to actually study the subject.

J. J. Ramsey said...

A few points ...

Vincent: "the Dec 25th or winter solstice celebrations were around a few thousand years prior to Jesus or Christmas."

Non sequitur, since Acharya S's parallel depends on Jesus' birth being tied to the winter solstice, not merely on the existence of winter solstice celebration.

Vincent: "There'd be no life on earth as we know it were it not for the sun"

Thank you, Captain Obvious. That's not enough to make the sun into a savior. A sustainer of life, sure, but it's not as if the sun is generally credited with saving people from a crisis, unlike a savior.

Vincent: "The sun in its 'most high' simply means the sun is in it's most powerful position at 12 noon."

But again, you are missing the part about the sun supposed being in a temple at 12 noon.

Vincent: "There's loads of symbolism of the 7 rays of the sun and the crown of thorns in art."

Which misses the point. You need to establish that the idea of the crown of thorns came from the idea of a solar corona, not merely that a crown of thorns, once introduced, can then be likened to a solar corona.

Me: "Emphasis is put on minor details...while major aspects of Christianity, such as its apocalyptic ideas...are glossed over"

Vincent: "That's categorically false and proves you've never read any of her work."

I've read Acharya S's mini-astrotheological lesson, and if it doesn't stand up on its own, then it's her fault for writing it poorly, not my fault for not delving into her books. I see no reason why I should what she puts online as a bellwether of the quality of her larger work.

Lvka said...

Most of them aren't. (Just like saying not all cats have one eye).