Top critical review
2 people found this helpful
FOUND ALL HIS HUGE, EMBARRASSING ERRORS YET?
on March 13, 2016
First, a little background. There are thousands upon thousands of respected biblical scholars. About a third of them are anti theists/atheists and these atheist scholars have written countless books explaining why Christianity is a lie, etc.. But none of these respected atheist scholars claim Christ was a myth, that he never existed - and of course, if they could muster a good argument for it, surely the the anti theists would.
For the Jesus-is-a-myth argument you have go to a teeny tiny handful of outliers like Doherty, who is still frothing on about mystery religions. I kid you not, mystery religions. Circa 1920.
So....why, why do all these well educated men believe there really was a Jesus Christ?
Doherty writes that the information about Jesus Christ was "transmitted over the decades through...apostles...There is not even the barest concept of teaching passed on between generations...Instead,..in Paul true doctrine comes from revelation" .
Where to begin?
Paul uses the words paradidonai and paralambanein. These were technical, authoritative words is Second Temple Judaism, only used when the person was passing on true, binding oral tradition. It was never used for midrash, which is what Doherty claims Mark is. And not only did Paul use these words, so did Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
For some books that detail just how breathtaking an error this is, please pick up Gerhardsson "Memory and Manuscript: Oral Tradition and Written Transmission' and 'Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE' by Jaffee or "Jesus and the Oral Gospel Tradition'. .
I repeat: By using those paradidonai and paralambanein Paul was claiming to be passing on true, binding, oral tradition. Not a story. And never midrash.
Doherty claims "similarities between the mysteries and the Christian sacraments, especially the Eucharist" and later, "Paul interpreted ..the Lord's supper in the manner of the mysteries.
Nonsense. We know exactly where the origin of the Eucharist came from, and it had squat to do with mystery religions. The precursor was the manna in the desert, and from the sacred bread and wine talked about in Leviticus and Exodus, the Bread of the Presence, as it was called in Second Temple Judaism. This sacred bread was always kept on a gold table in the Holy of Holies in the Temple, and brought out on the feasts of Tabernacles, Pentecost, and Passover, when the priests would elevate the bread, saying, 'Behold, God's love for you'.
The famous Arch of Titus, commissioned by his brother Domitian, shows the Roman soldiers hauling the golden Menorah and the golden table of the Bread of the Presence out of the temple. David of course ate the Bread of the Presence, and Jesus Christ made it a sacrament. For reference, pick up 'Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist' by Pitre.
Why does Doherty think Paul told Christians anyone eating the bread or drinking the cup of the Lord unworthily will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord?
Meals at mystery religions seemed to have been drunken revels, about as sacred as New Year's eve party. Eating something unworthily would have seemed to be the point.
More errors: Jesus said, 'O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets' . Doherty pounces on this and proclaims, "This idea that the Jewish establishment had a long habit of killing prophets...little historical basis". Then funny thing about John the Baptist, the 'greatest of the prophets', having his head cut off. Little historical basis? What about Jerimiah, Ezekiel, Mikah and Amos?
Hilariously, Doherty claims, "In the orthodox picture of Christian origins...The Messiah had come, but not the kingdom" . Oh, poor bewildered Christians! For 2,000 years, the Catholic church has been proclaiming itself the kingdom of God on earth. Doherty really had to avoid reading on the subject to ignore the thousand years of proclamation that kingdom on earth is the Catholic church. So the kingdom not only came, the vast majority of Christians in the world (yes, Catholics are the largest majority of Christians in the world) insist it's still right here.
Doherty is a psychic! He writes, "Where records of bishops...were found not to exist, they were simply constructed". Since there is not the smallest shred of evidence for this statement, I am left with Doherty having psychic ability.
More lack of logic: If Jesus was a myth, a vision, how can Paul write about meeting James, the brother of Jesus in Gal. 1:19? James was clearly a real flesh and blood person, clearly known to Paul. Don't you think James might have mentioned the fact that he had no brother named Jesus to Paul? Seriously?
An antique error: Doherty claims,, "Paul's Christ bears too close a resemblance to the savior gods of the Greco Roman mystery". In the early 1900s the German Religionsgeschichtliche Schule - sometimes called the History of Religions school - argued that Christianity borrowed dogmas from ancient pagan religions, especially the mystery religions. Doherty has updated the dying and rising gods of the History of Religions school to what he calls 'savior gods'.
The History of Religions theories were put to death by thousands of scholars doing research, not to mention archaeological discoveries that proved much of the claims to be bogus. Let me reiterate: all the claims have been rejected by scholars.
From Jonathan Z Smith's famous essay "Dying and Rising Gods" which you can buy on Amazon today: "The category of dying and rising gods, once a major topic of scholarly investigation, must now be understood to be largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions." For further proof get Martin Hengel's "The Son of God", Nash's "The Gospel and the Greeks" and Gunter Wagner's "Pauline Baptism".
Christianity not only did not borrow doctrines from pagan sources, but paganism borrowed from Christianity. In the second century the various Gnostic schools claimed Christian apostles were the source of their 'gospels'. And please try to explain why the Gnostics added the names of Christian apostles if Christianity wasn't making a huge impact on pagan society.
And before anyone writes a heated reply about it: there is no proof any of the various Gnostic schools existed until well over a hundred years after the death of Christ, although of course a few of the ideas were already part of the mishmash of paganism. For proof, please pick up a copy of "A Separate God" by Petrement..
Among the thousands of arguments that slew the History of Religions school: Christ was a real person, and came in definite time - Paul says he can put forward some 500 witnesses. Christ was not a pagan vegetative god, that rose in the summer and died, or fell into the bleak half-life of the underworld, in the winter. His resurrection was forever. The savior gods did not open heaven to anybody. The savior gods were not proclaiming morality. On the contrary, ancient religions had little connection to morality, whereas Christ was the first person in Jewish history to start warning about - and he mentioned it over and over - that you could go to hell if you did not obey God.
Christianity utterly revolutionized morality in the ancient world, whereas pagan gods, rising, dying, or 'savior', for the most part, were lust-driven, vain, petty, cruel, greedy, liked bribes, and committed every one of the ten commandments.
Doherty claims "Many ...of the savior gods...bestowed benefits similar to those enjoyed by devotees of Christ.". Nonsense. None of these gods offered heaven or hell, based on your morality. The only one that offered much at all would be the Mithraic cult, which possibly claimed that if you performed certain rites soldiers would be protected from death in battle. But even this Mithraic belief is dated more than a century after Christ. And what it actually promised is debatable.
Incredible: Doherty not only quotes from Q, he is full of tender faith in a Q community, and his famous psychic ability lets him know such things as"The Q community's ...Jesus would have been a figure instantly recognizable". He evens wanders further down the yellow brick road and claims there were Q2 and Q3, Wow.
This is utter fantasy. You can't quote from something that doesn't exist, a fact that escaped the brilliant Mr. Doherty. And for pity's sake, how long has it been since the idea of a variety of lonely, inward looking 'communities' was torn to shreds? Someone, please give him a copy of 'The Gospel for all Christians' by Bauckham. And the problem with Q is the 'Gospel of Thomas', a Gnostic so-called gospel, and also very fondly regarded by the always keen and penetrating Mr. Doherty.. Thomas is a list of pithy sayings, and the non theist scholars were sure, sure! around 1970 that Thomas had to date loooong before the actual gospels were penned, and therefore had a great deal to say about early Christianity. Thomas made all these scholars sure, sure! there was a Q full of pithy Jesus sayings.
Except that lots of scholars began to dig into Thomas, and guess what! Thomas is now widely understood as having been created after 150 AD. So there is no way it could have influenced the gospels. For further information, pick up a copy of 'Thomas and Tatian: the Relationship between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron'. Pretty soon people were wondering if there even have been a Q. (See the book 'Questioning Q") That's where we are today.
Q is dying a lingering but apparently permanent death. Someone needs to alert Doherty. And Q2 and Q3? Wow.
I kept waiting for Doherty to show some manner mystery religion beliefs to have penetrated Galilee. And waiting and waiting. But of course there is none. Mystery religions were utterly absent from the area.
Doherty is so wrong, penning one false statement after another, that it is not possible to read a paragraph without finding errors. Here's another: "Ignatiius...does not seem to be familiar with a gospel". Not only does Ignatius quote from Matthew, Luke and John, as well as most of Paul's epistles, but also Acts, Timothy, and Hebrews.
Here's a question Doherty really needs to answer: why does he think Jews would steal ideas from mystery religions? What for? Not only did the mystery religions not exist in Galilee, Jews had book after book after book of mysterious prophecies. You can hardly find a page in the Old Testament that isn't thick with mysterious sayings or prophecies. There simply is no reason on earth for any Jew to bother with ideas from other pagan religions, when Judaism is a cornucopia of such things.
One scholar recently went through one of Paul's epistles and found fifty references to the Old Testament. Here's what Paul wrote about pagan religions: "the sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not to God", Does this really sound like someone who would want to borrow ideas from pagans??