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Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus Hardcover – April 24, 2012
Adam Hamilton Explores the Major Themes of The Gospel of John
Join Adam Hamilton this Lent and Easter, as he explains the context of some of the best-known verses in the New Testament while teaching abouth the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus through the Gospel of John. Learn more | See author page
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-Dr. Malcolm Murray, Author of The Atheist’s Primer
"Carrier applies his philosophical and historical training to maximum effect in outlining a case for the use of Bayes’s Theorem in evaluating biblical claims. Even biblical scholars, who usually are not mathematically inclined, may never look at the ‘historical Jesus’ the same way again."
-Dr. Hector Avalos, Professor of religious studies, Iowa State University, and author of , The End of Biblical Studies
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Top Customer Reviews
The present volume argues, and argues quite persuasively that historians should employ Bayes's Theorem in their work and of course that includes work on the historical Jesus. Regardless of what you think about that subject, if you are a thinking person, I think you should read this book. If you care about how we know what we know and how likely your beliefs are to be correct you should read this book. In that regard it is excellent. It does have a fairly narrow focus but that focus is on something that has incredibly wide application.
I'm just a lay person interested in science, history, and philosophy among other things. I'm not a professor or specialist in any relevant fields. I found this book an incredibly helpful guide to rigorous thought. This book is definitely not for everyone. Sometimes the author talks too much, but the points are valid and you just need to work through them. This is not light reading, although it is written in a way to be accessible to intelligent readers. You must be willing to put in some work if you are not already well versed in the theory.
I can't wait for the follow up volume where Dr. Carrier actually applies all this to the subject of a historical Jesus. I've now read several of Carrier's books and seen him on some video clips. He's a very articulate man and always seems to have something brilliant to say. I admit that I'm a fan.
Highly recommended to serious readers.
Carrier does not set forth a view of the historical Jesus in this volume. Rather, his goal is to "present a new method that solves the problem... so progress can finally be made in the field of Jesus studies (p.15)". His new method is Bayes's Theorem (BT). One need not be an expert in mathematics or even statistics to follow along in the book: a basic understanding of multiplication, division, and fractions will suffice. However, even if your eyes tend to glaze over once Carrier begins to plug in some numbers in the formula, he still adequately conveys conceptually the arguments he is defending.
The main arguments that an amateur reader like myself can take away from Carrier's work are the following:
1) Contrary to what some (most recently, Bart Ehrman) say, history IS a science.Read more ›
Carrier wastes no time before describing the moribund state of current historical Jesus studies. He cites various analyses which conclude that the recent `method of criteria' fail to produce a consensus. "The entire field of Jesus studies has been left without any valid method". The reason being either invalid criteria, invalid application or a `Threshold Problem' involving the number & weight of criteria and their significance.
THE CONSEQUENCE of this FAILURE is the current multiplicity of plausible Jesus types which abound in the literature. Carrier cites Jesus the Jewish Cynic Sage, Rabbinical Holy Man (or Devoted Pharisee, or Heretical Essene, etc.), Political Revolutionary, Zealot Activist, Apocalyptic Prophet. Messianic Pretender, as well as many other more exotic contenders.
"When everyone picks up the same method, applies it to the same facts, and gets a different result, we can be certain that that method is invalid and should be abandoned."
THE SOLUTION is the application of Bayes's Theorem (BT).
CHAPTER 2: THE BASICS
In WHY HISTORY REQUIRES EXPERTISE, Carrier describes four stages of historic analysis. Textual, literary, source and only last, is historical analysis proper. He then sets down a set of 12 core epistemological assumptions. THE AXIOMS OF HISTORICAL METHOD and discusses them in turn with some illustrative examples mostly derived from ancient times. These are then followed by 12 RULES OF HISTORICAL METHOD which are simply stated without individual comment.
CHAPTER 3: INTRODUCING BAYES'S THEOREM
WHEN DID THE SUN GO OUT?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm only given this a low review because I struggled b to follow it, not because it was poorly written, but because I found the subject to be way over my head. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Dr. Carrier makes an interesting case for the view that any valid methodology of historical analysis reduces to the proper application of Bayes' Theorem. Read morePublished 3 months ago by A. J. Doherty
This is the "prequel", as it were, to the author's "On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt". Read morePublished 4 months ago by Alan Wray
This book was dense, mathy, and at times difficult, but it was also excellent. I suspect that the reason for its density is that the author had to decide between brevity and... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Josh
I am just finishing reading Richard Carrier’s two part magnus opus, Proving History and On the Historicity of Jesus. In the first book Dr. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Given the emphasis on Dr. Carrier's "version" of Bayes' Theorem (BT) and the title of the book, addressing these foundations provide perhaps the best basis for evaluating... Read morePublished 10 months ago by LegionOnomaMoi
A very rigorous and detailed explanation of how to correctly apply statistics to evaluate historical claims is presented. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Brian L. Vant-hull
Carrier's YouTube work has got me intrigued. I am starting to look at the reviews. Of course, I need to buy and read his book for myself. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Sam Mitchell