This is the first mythicist book I've read and while I think that the arguments presented here are plausible, I still feel that the case for the histoThis is the first mythicist book I've read and while I think that the arguments presented here are plausible, I still feel that the case for the historical Jesus is more convincing. I remain unconvinced by Carrier's attempts to work around Paul mentioning James the brother of the lord. I don't agree that just because the gospels have fabrications and exaggerations that the only choice you have is to completely disregard them; I've found that many of the arguments scholars come up with using "criterion of embarrassment" to seem reasonable (sadly this was discussed in Proving History so I'd have to read that to see how Carrier addresses this).
On a side note, I'm still not sure that using Bayesian probability to address history is reliable. Carrier knows this so he tries to get around it by being what he feels is generous in his probabilities (meaning that he gives what he feels are higher probabilities than he can reasonably justify to the historical claim), but I kept feeling that there's something wrong when you make up probabilities that you feel are reasonable without knowing the actual probabilities and then you use this to "prove" your point. For example, Carrier gets a big portion if his probability that Jesus didn't exist by looking at the Rank-Raglan mythotype. The Rank-Raglan mythotype has a set of 22 points that many hero types have. According to Carrier using the Gospels (Matthew) Jesus meets around 20 of these mythotypes, since most of the people that meet this many RR mythotypes aren't historical we can conclude that Jesus isn't historical. But here's the frustrating part, to get to these 20 mythotypes for Jesus we have to use the Gospels (that's right the same Gospels that Carrier has also completely thrown out as non historical). If we limit ourselves to the letters of Paul, Jesus only meets about 7 of these which is the same as the historical person Alexander. This ignores the fact that many other historical people also meet 7 so the probability for Jesus's existence is far higher that what Carrier has mentioned. I really feel there's a reason why historians don't use Bayes theorem; the theorem only works with known probabilities and without reliable known probabilities, it's not too hard to use this theorem to come up with the author's prior beliefs. For other examples look at William Lane Craig' using Bayes' theorem to "prove" that Jesus rose from the grave, or Richard Swinburne using the same thing to "prove" that God exists. ...more
This book almost solely about the evolution of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic deity, starting with ideas in the ancient near east and how they changed toThis book almost solely about the evolution of the Judeo/Christian/Islamic deity, starting with ideas in the ancient near east and how they changed to become early versions of YHWH to Christianity and then Islam. I remain skeptical of some of the ideas expressed here but I still found them interesting and plausible. I liked the first half of this book, but by the second half, this book started to seem like a 500 page advertisement for his Nonzero book and was harder to get through. This book ends with a dialog between a physicist and a theist which I found so terrible that I had to lower my rating an additional star. ...more