45 of 61 people found the following review helpful
The book of the 90's,
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This review is from: The Jesus Myth (Paperback)
Professor Wells has studied Christian origins since the late 1950's, his thesis, like any scientific theory, has undergone change as the weight of evidence has mounted. The Jesus Myth is a continuation of this evolution in his thinking, when combined with his other texts, no sober thinking individual can possibly claim that the Jesus, who is worshiped by hundreds of millions is anything other than an imaginary friend, as so little can be know of him. This book is outstanding, no lesser verdict can do it justice!
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2008 12:54:57 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 26, 2008 1:07:18 AM PDT
D. M. Ohara says:
GA Wells, whom I once knew well, was much influenced by a schoolmaster named Ronald Englefield who introduced him to the sceptical writings of John M Robertson, the Scottish autodidact and liberal politician, who was for years a mainstay of the Rationalist Press Association. Robertson was the most prolific proponent on the non-historicity of Jesus in the early decades of the 20th century, and Wells can be seen as his successor. Though Wells has modified his position in recent years, he is still basically committed to the view that there is no connection between the Christ preached by Paul and worshipped by the early Christians, and an itinerant preacher from Galilee who is the basis of Q and who might even have been called Jesus. It is both a difficult position to defend, and involves a schizoid mindset simply to entertain. There are perfectly understandable motives for rejecting the Christian faith - but challenging the historicity of Jesus creates more problems than it solves.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 20, 2010 9:48:26 AM PDT
Francis P. Moraes Jr. says:
I think this is an incorrect statement regarding Wells' writing. His argument, going back at least to _The Jesus Legend_, seems to be that Paul _was_ talking about the itinerant preacher and that the Gospels are largely myths, created for practical reasons by later members of the faith. Of course, as you point out, Wells is a moving target; but I think my condensation is correct. It is also over-statement that he believes there is _no_ connection between the various depictions of Jesus in the Bible; in fact, he seems to believe that Jesus suffers from "feature creep" more than utter fictionalization.
In the end, Wells doesn't make such outlandish claims. What is most hard to understand is how Wells _and_ his detractors think that his work has any relevance to the question of whether one should be a Christian. I find his writing fascinating, but utterly academic--at least on that question.
In reply to an earlier post on May 11, 2012 3:29:04 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2014 9:09:43 AM PDT
Francis P. Moraes Jr:
It's because "the question of whether one should be a Christian" is your problem, not G. A. Wells's. You picked the wrong book.
G. A. Wells's interest is to analyze how the Jesus Christ depicted in Paul's letters relates to the fictional Jesus in the Gospels. His assumption is that Q has some validity independent from Paul, and hence relates to some obscure preacher, of which there must have been dozens in those days roaming the countryside, a "Swarm of prophets" (as we now have a swarm of evangelical preachers on TV), all claiming to be prophets of Jesus possessed by the "Spirit of the Lord".
It is the collection of their sayings, all combined and put in the mouth of a composite "Galilean preacher/miracle worker" that Q is presenting, to whom the popular name of Jesus is given.
Look, even Paul, in his own time became one such prophet of Jesus, roaming with his own preaching. He was not the only one, as he even indicates, always competing with other gospels, preached by what Paul called "false prophets".
It's not sure at all that this anonymous cynic preacher was named Jesus, it is in fact doubtful, since his name was inessential. The sayings were pronounced by the roving preachers speaking in the "Spirit of the Lord", and subsequently all ascribed to the Lord.
These collective reminiscences, all collected in Q, are integrated in Mark's Gospel which builds a story permitting recovering and integrating the salient features of Paul's Jesus, essentially his crucifixion and resurrection (not presented in Q).
Q, with its sayings attributed to "Jesus" was reconstituted from Mark's Gospel, and got the name Jesus from Mark. So the name of Jesus in Q is derived from Mark's Gospel, which borrowed the name from Paul, not from the anonymous preachers.
What you do with that to justify your faith is your affair. And G. A. Wells doesn't care at all. And neither do we.
In reply to an earlier post on Aug 15, 2013 10:47:41 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 13, 2014 11:23:24 AM PDT
Concerning D.M. Ohara's comment here.
I have encountered D.M. Ohara's comments, always of the same negative cast, in many reviews of Wells's books, for instance, in the case of Wells's "Did Jesus Exist?", (1975/87), a key scholarly book. I took the trouble of rebutting Ohara's below-the-belt and spiteful comment. (Dec. 25, 2013).
Then it was about "The Jesus Legend" (1996), (see the review by "Avid Reader" back in 2003). I riposted with a rebuttal to D.M. Ohara's comment there, which I repeat here in this ALERT, because it relates to his systematic vilipending of Wells's character and his books.
I wondered: why is this so-called "D.M. Ohara" sprinkling so many reviews of G.A. Wells's books with highly negative and deprecatory comments all over Amazon?
I was able to locate the passage where I first saw his name in Wells's books. It's in the preface of "What's in a Name?: Reflections on Language, Magic, and Religion" (Open Court, Chicago, 1993).
Wells said: "I am grateful too to Mr. Daniel O'Hara for his helpful comments on a draft of my manuscript". (Page XII).
D(aniel) O'Hara is also listed with the same words in the "Acknowledgements" of "The Jesus Legend", (1996, p. xx); and again in "The Jesus Myth", (1999, p. xi).
However, in the following book, five years later, "Can We Trust the New Testament?: Thoughts on the Reliability of Early Christian Testimony", (2004), Daniel O'Hara is no longer mentioned in "Acknowledgements". So the break between O'Hara and Wells must have happened some time in 1999 or later.
So Mr. O'Hara's comments have been all obviously written in a spirit of spite and rancor. "Rancor" is defined as "Bitter, long-lasting resentment; deep-seated ill will. See Synonyms at 'enmity'. (Middle English, from Old French, from Late Latin, 'rancid smell', from Latin rancre, 'to stink, be rotten'.)
This Mr. Daniel O'Hara, was allowed to review the manuscripts of Wells, as a fact-checker, or proof-reader, assigned to pointing out superficial mistakes to Wells, or the editor at Open Court in Chicago (the publisher of Wells's books, when he left Prometheus for Open Court). Then, for some reason, Mr. O'Hara was let go and no longer part of the team assisting Wells in reviewing the galleys.
And ever since, Mr. O'Hara has been spending his time badmouthing Wells all over the Amazon reviews. And always with the same litany of grievances.
My immediate suspicion was that there was obviously some bad blood between the two men, as O'Hara probably was expelled from his job as fact-checker or proof-reader in Wells's editing team.
Since then, Mr. O'Hara has a personal axe to grind. He seems to be harboring a bitter grudge against Wells which drives him to sprinkle negative comments to reviews of Wells's books.
From an insider role, he became an outsider and bad-mouther. He is, in reality, re-enacting, a bit unawares, the role of Judas vis-a-vis Jesus in the gospels.
So, it is not completely unfair to say that Mr. O'Hara does sound like a modern Judas, helping the author in proof reading his galleys (with rather defective assistance, according to his own declaration), and then demolishing the book in his Amazon comments.
Of course, from a historical viewpoint, it'd be instructive if one day Mr. O'Hara would come out and explain why he is harboring such malice against Wells.
His kind of malicious critique is repeated mostly as comments to other Amazon reviewers of Wells's books, always in the same denigrating spirit.
I even wondered: why does Mr. O'Hara feels he has to hide his sting as comments to others' reviews? Why not write his own review for each book of Wells's that he so gleefully maligns out of view in the comments?
Each of his reviews would come with a one-star rating from him, raising an alarm bell in readers. They would wonder: But who is this unknown reviewer who is systematically badmouthing each of Wells's books? Why this uniformly unfair vilipending?
However, writing a review under his own name would force him to show some knowledge of the contents of each book. And that, I think, is what he seems incapable of correctly grasping.
For there is not a single valid criticism in all of Mr. Daniel O'Hara's comments. He misses all the fundamental aspects of Wells's thesis. And, truly, he does not seem to be mentally equipped to offer any valid evaluation of Wells's work. He is obviously emotionally motivated by a spirit of vengeance against Wells, obsessed with the desire to misrepresent his work without any warning.
His evaluation in this comment here, and other comments too, is lamentably empty, and can be dismissed out of hand. I don't think Mr. O'Hara's condemnation reflects anything than his own bitterness. It is a small-minded hatchet job.
So, in a nutshell, Mr. "Ohara", who is in fact Mr. Daniel O'Hara, was at some point part of G.A. Wells's proof-reading team, and for some reason, (probably insatisfaction with his work), he left his position in the team.
Ever since, he's been harboring a deep grudge against Wells which drives him to sprinkle negative comments to reviews of Wells's books. From an insider role, he became an outsider and vengeful bad-mouther.
Here are some of the acerbic comments and below-the-belt criticisms delivered by O'Hara about his former boss.
- O'Hara, ironically, puts the former prison librarian Holding/Turkel in the same category as G. A.Wells. Comparing a supreme scholar like Wells to the polemicist/apologist Holding/Turkel also proved Mr. O'Hara's vindictiveness in denigrating Wells to the maximum.
- O'Hara ominously denounces the debt owed by Wells to his teacher, the rationalist Ronald Englefield, as if this was some kind of major flaw. But Wells has always trumpeted that Englefield was his mentor in critical thinking. He's always presented himself as a convinced rationalist, and even became the President of the British Rationalist Press Association. He has also advertised his great respect for the foremost rationalist thinke rof the 20th c., John M. Robertson (as did Paul-Louis Couchoud, the French rationalist equivalent of Wells.)
- O'Hara: "Wells is very selective of those whose views he cites". This is a puerile comment. Everybody is.
- O'Hara again: "Wells has done virtually no original research into the origins of the New Testament and the history of the early church". Patently untrue, and simply an expression of spite and bile.
- More of O'Hara's bile: "[Wells] rarely engages with recent cutting-edge scholarship that has done so much to restore more realistic dates for the NT documents." Patently untrue, another outburst of bad-mouthing and vilipending.
- Another denigration from sweet-speaking O'Hara: " It is both a difficult position to defend, and involves a schizoid mindset simply to entertain." Yep, O'Hara now poses as a psychiatrist diagnosing Wells with some kind of mental disorder. Who will believe the honesty of this commenter? Not I, for one.
Daniel O'Hara has a personal axe to grind against Wells, and perhaps one day the true facts of his defaming Wells and the reasons for the bad blood will come out, perhaps in an interview with Wells himself.
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