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Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position 
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Post Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
In assessing Christ in Egypt, readers should be aware of the level of scholarly controversy that surrounds the central claim that Christ is a myth. D.M. Murdock would like to publish in scholarly journals, but finds her way barred by prejudice. As a result, there is a need to build understanding and support, in order to home in on the key simple questions that are in dispute, the hidden assumptions that once revealed will allow progress in the debate.

I am presenting here the key arguments of the mythicist position as Murdock has articulated it, with comments from distinguished scholarly supporters, and would welcome response from readers of all levels of knowledge about this topic.

Even those who have not studied the topic in depth, but have a general interest in religion and logic, can make valuable contributions in terms of how this debate is perceived by the broader community.

Quote:
The Mythicist Position:

"Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not “real people” but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called “astrotheology.”

As a major example of the mythicist position, various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon & Jesus Christ, among other figures, in reality represent mythological characters along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures."

- Christ in Egypt, pages 11 & 12

"I find it undeniable that many of the epic heroes and ancient patriarchs and matriarchs of the Old Testament were personified stars, planets, and constellations."

"I find myself in full agreement with Acharya S/D.M. Murdock"

- Dr. Robert Price, Biblical Scholar

"Your scholarship is relentless! The research conducted by D.M. Murdock concerning the myth of Jesus Christ is certainly both valuable and worthy of consideration."

- Dr. Kenneth L. Feder, Professor of Archaeology

The Mythicist Position - video

What is a Mythicist?



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Great, thanks Robert. Do you or Murdock have a FAQ of common rebuttals to her research, including answers to those rebuttals? I wonder because the thesis seems plausible and convincing. It seems the antagonists have ulterior motives(of course).



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Yeah, well for the record, to me the mythicist position is the only position that makes sense because the bible is metaphor allegory and symbolism through and throughout.

I used to be a literalist but that was because I was ill informed.

I mean some people like nickelback, but they are still crap. I never liked nickelback, they suck and if you like them your taste is in your ass.

But I respect your right to like nickelback as long as you respect my right to feel sorry for you you poor malnourished traitor to good music.

Oh sorry, we weren't on that topic, my bad, apologies but not for thinking nickelback is soulless crap

Mmmmm just listening to Tull live doing no lullaby, bb's kit is sounding great.

But yeah that's my opinion, the mythicist position is the only position that is rationally defensible ultimately, and nickelback are shite.



Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:34 am
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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Some sources on debate regarding peer review and mythicism

http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums ... f=4&t=3411

http://landonhedrick.blogspot.com/2011/ ... 3504468319

http://www.patheos.com/community/explor ... er-review/

This last one has an interesting response from independent mythicist scholar Earl Doherty.

Earl Doherty wrote:
This idea of “peer” review is a joke in NT scholarship. The latter is a closed and privileged club, with boundaries that cannot be crossed (witness the failure of The Jesus Project), and no journal or publisher within that field is going to give mythicism the time of day. There would be no more possibility of an unbiased and effective review of a mythicist’s work than what you’ve given mine, and mythicists know that. You know it as well. The very idea that centuries of scholarship could have been based on a serious misinterpretation of the record is so abhorrent even to so-called critical scholars (there may be the rare exception, Mack or Ludemann for example), that no honest review is possible. You’ve shown that. And considering that people like you represent a good part of the general readership of such journals and publications, no journal or publication would risk the firestorm they would create in accepting and publishing mythicist viewpoints.

An interested party (not a mythicist) in the U.S. several years ago offered The Fourth R publication of Westar/the Jesus Seminar a donation of $5000 if they would devote part of an issue to mythicism, consisting of an article by myself presenting my case and a rebuttal article by any scholar of their own choosing. They turned it down. The editor claimed, “No one who believes Jesus never existed can be persuaded otherwise!” (Which, of course, was not the purpose, but talk about pots and kettles!) And the subject was declared as of no interest (read: too objectionable) to its readership. But that's not the point. Here was a good (and profitable) opportunity for historicism to deal a death blow to its long-term nemesis, or at least to trash it the way it has always been claimed can be done so easily. Here was a chance to give mythicism that "peer review" you would like to see it given. I guess you would consider as legitimate peer review an out and out denial of a voice to the very topic itself! (After all, you've said that you refuse to present any positive element of my case since it would supposedly grant it some kind of legitimacy. That's honest 'peer review'?)

This business of demanding of mythicists that they be peer reviewed, and then taunted and consigned to fraud and charlatanry when they are not, is as transparent as they come. Until the concept of Jesus being a non-historical character is regarded as a legitimate offering within the field of NT study and is addressed on that basis (even if argued against, which is equally legitimate), the idea of peer review of mythicism is an oxymoron, and we all know it. You and yours demand peer review because you know it is simply not possible. It is blatantly designed to serve your own purposes, which is the height of duplicity on your part.

When I commented that “maybe I’ll finally get my ‘peer review’,” I was quite obviously being ironic and sarcastic. The only “review” I would ever get from any of the “peers” you have in mind would be one by someone who approaches my book from the a priori position of condemning and rejecting it and sets out to trash it in the most unabashedly biased way. Just as you yourself have approached your review of Jesus: Neither God Nor Man.

So let’s not hear any more about the sham that is the idea of ‘peer review’. Having defined mythicism as charlatanry, having closed and barred the gates of your discipline to any consideration of Jesus not being an historical figure, having nominated as the only allowable “peers” those with predeterminedly hostile views toward the very idea, you’ve loaded the deck and then think to blame and condemn us for failing to make any headway in the game. If you can’t see the utter dishonesty in that kind of farce, and the disgrace it is to the concept of genuine and open-minded scholarship, you are beneath contempt.

Jim says: “I understand that you take the criticisms of your ideas personally…”

No, because what is thrown at me here is not “criticism.” In a scholarly context, “criticism” is—or should be—defined as “the act or occupation of analyzing and evaluating a literary or artistic work” (one of the definitions in Webster’s College Dictionary). “Analyzing and evaluating” in an honest and objective fashion backed by evidence and scholarly argumentation—rather than foaming at the mouth with preconceived hostility, blanket condemnation and ad hominem attacks. Let’s look at some of the ‘criticisms’ voiced here since my earlier posting:

“Bart (as you & I did) will be very unlikely to accept Doherty's mythicist non-sense which is based on dubious, weak, biased & convoluted so-called interpretations.” (Bernard)

Objective? Informative? Serious scholarly tone and integrity backed up by substance? Hardly.

“Your stance on peer review in history and religious studies is much like the stance of creationists on peer review in the natural sciences” (Jim)

Do you think that your review of my book thus far is on a par with that of respected and renowned evolutionary scientists when dealing with creationism? I have never seen them adopting a tone anything like yours, and they certainly back up their defense of evolution by copious and incontrovertible evidence for evolution itself, as well as clearly and powerfully demonstrate the flaws of the creationist ‘case’. Where is your copious and incontrovertible evidence for historicism? “Brother of the Lord can only mean one thing”? LOL! Where is your powerful demonstration of the flaws of mythicism? Associating it with creationism? Appeals to authority? "Doherty deviously postpones contrary evidence"? Where is the sophisticated and convincing rebuttal? “Paul doesn’t mention anything about Jesus’ life and teaching because everyone already knew every detail of it”? Where the integrity? Misrepresenting or ignoring vast swaths of my argument because you don’t want to confer the slightest legitimacy on a theory you viscerally despise? The comparison with creationists is not only invalid on so many levels, it is simply a blatant attempt to manufacture guilt by false association.

“Looking at Doherty's latest posting, all I can say is: rhetoric, rhetoric, rhetoric ...” (Bernard)

This is counter-argument rebutting my presentation of Jim’s attitude toward peer review for mythicism and its basic dishonesty? Not a shred of it. All bluster and empty words.

“Hell hath no fury like a Mythicist scorned.” (Just Sayin’)

Moderately clever, but contributing nothing except derision.

“I for one am reassured by the unwillingness even of a periodical like The Fourth R to accept bribes in exchange for giving a platform to non-scholarly ideas, even with an opportunity for rebuttal.” (Jim)

A “bribe” to urge a magazine in the field to consider the pros and cons of a longstanding (almost two centuries) minority scholarly conclusion in their own discipline? A “bribe” to ask a leading voice in critical scholarship to address a persistent idea which has been gaining credence and popularity on the public scene, if only to check its spread? Or is it more likely a burying of one’s head in the sand, a fear to rock the boat and jeopardize interests that are anything but scholarly, a realization that their defense against mythicism has about as much substance as the emperor’s new clothes? How does one know that the ideas are non-scholarly if they are never given voice and attention by those who allegedly can decide and demonstrate their scholarly quality or lack of it?

The Fourth R’s refusal to ‘peer review’ mythicism and Jim’s praising of their decision makes a mockery of his demand that mythicism submit to peer review when those “peers” refuse to do so and he supports them. It reveals the legitimacy of everything I said in my earlier post about the farce that the peer review issue raised by Jim really is.

I don’t know if you hacks realize the depth of scholarly depravity to which you have sunk. If we still operated like the Middle Ages, mythicists would not simply be condemned out of hand and treated as pariahs, they would be burned at the stake; and I have no doubt you guys would cheerfully light the kindling. Essentially, you are no better than a milder version of the Inquisition, with no greater scholarly honor or integrity involved than we would accord to the Dominicans, who refused to consider contrary evidence, gave no voice to any witnesses to support the accused, whose idea of rationality was to torture the victim to extract the “truth”, and consigned the condemned heretic to the ultimate wilderness. Not to mention burning their writings. Jim’s views and approach to his review of my book has as much to do with reasoned and capable rebuttal to mythicism as the Pope’s Hounds exercised in rooting out heresy and saving the vested interests of the Catholic Church.

Are any of you familiar with the American composer Charles Ives’ short orchestral piece called “The Unanswered Question”? A questing and questioning trumpet asks a calm and serious question. A chorus of five flutes at first complacently answers. Clearly inadequately, since the trumpet must repeat its question, though it maintains its equanimity. With each repeat of the question (about five times), the flute chorus becomes more and more agitated, condemnatory, it increasingly scoffs and scorns. In the end it is literally foaming at the mouth, wild-eyed with derision. (Ives’ talents are astonishing in creating his musical effects.) That is what historicism, and particularly the flute chorus here, has increasingly become, abdicating any responsibility (or ability) to address an honest and serious questioning, rooted in the evidence, of the historical basis of Christianity, indulging instead in vacuous ridicule and demonization, and an assigning of all heretics to a figurative stake, a fate pre-judged for them from the beginning.

You are not even capable of being ashamed of yourselves.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Michael Shermer discusses the concept of burden of proof in his book, Why People Believe Weird Things. The title is telling in this case because either a historical or a mythical Jesus may seem weird, depending on your perspective. Ultimately, we have to determine where the evidence lies.

So who has the burden of proof in this mythicism/historicism debate? It appears to me that the mythicists do for no other reason than that the historical Jesus is firmly established traditionally. It's the de facto position taken by in the vast majority of scholars and by professors at universities and colleges. It is embedded in our culture. It's easy to see how this came to be. For many hundreds of years our scholars were also deeply religious. They were not only heavily vested in a historical Jesus, but a divine one as well. Now that we've pared away the divine Jesus, it won't be easy to divest ourselves of the historical one. A historical Jesus is established and normal, despite a lack of evidence. So to overthrow the idea of a historical Jesus will require a paradigm shift which has to be driven by evidence.

Thomas Kuhn defined "paradigm shift" as it pertained to scientific theory. The paradigm defines the normal science of an age as it is traditionally accepted by a majority of practicing scientists in a field. A shift will occur when enough renegade and heretical scientists gain enough evidence and power to overthrow the existing paradigm.

Shermer points out that evolutionists had the burden of proof for a half a century after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, but now the burden of proof is on the creationists. Likewise, the burden of proof is on Holocaust deniers to prove that the Holocaust didn't really happen.

Though historical events can't be repeated, they can be tested and validated. According to Shermer, "each of us may have a different view of history, but they are not all equally valid. Some are historical, and some are pseudohistorical, namely without supporting evidence and plausibility and presented primarily for political or ideological purposes."

The mythicist position seems increasingly plausible to me. I'm not saying I'm there yet, but I'm at least more open to the position. I'm new to this debate and I haven't read CiE yet, but I would agree that the traditional view is corrupt and promoted over the centuries by religiously-motivated ideologists. But it's also interesting to see that historicists are saying the same thing about the mythicists: they are motivated by a secular ideology. No matter what, there's going to be stiff resistance to the idea that Jesus never existed.


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
youkrst wrote:
Mmmmm just listening to Tull live doing no lullaby, bb's kit is sounding great.


There may only be a few people on the planet who know you are talking about Barriemore Barlow here. :lol:

Musical preference is so subjective, isn't it? I know some people who would prefer Nickleback to Jethro Tull. I can't understand it either, but I don't think you can presume to judge them for it.


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Interbane wrote:
Great, thanks Robert. Do you or Murdock have a FAQ of common rebuttals to her research, including answers to those rebuttals? I wonder because the thesis seems plausible and convincing. It seems the antagonists have ulterior motives(of course).

Interbane, here's a link to Acharya's Frequently Asked Questions.

Acharya answers many rebuttals throughout her articles. Here's an example Rebuttal to Dr. Chris Forbes concerning 'Zeitgeist, Part 1'



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
geo wrote:
So who has the burden of proof in this mythicism/historicism debate?

Well, theists have failed in their responsibilities of burden of proof from the very beginning. There still exists no credible evidence for a historical biblical Jesus or god - no religious supernatural claims have ever been substantiated. Mythicists have a mountain of credible evidence that actually exists strongly suggesting that the origins of religious concepts have their foundations based in natural phenomena (i.e. astrotheology) with similarities and differences due to environments, cultures and eras. Academia is not even looking at it.

geo wrote:
...I would agree that the traditional view is corrupt and promoted over the centuries by religiously-motivated ideologists...

This comes to mind ... Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia:
Quote:
"Scholars in general can also be notoriously cautious, particularly when it comes to stepping on the toes of mainstream institutions, especially those of a religious bent—and there have been many such establishments, including major universities like Yale and Harvard, both of which started as Christian divinity schools.1 Numerous other institutions in the Christian world were either founded specifically as Christian universities and colleges or had seminaries attached to them. As stated on the Princeton Theological Seminary website, regarding early American education:

Within the last quarter of the eighteenth century, all learning…could be adequately taught and studied in the schools and colleges, nearly all of which were church initiated.2

1. See the Yale Divinity School website: "Training for the Christian Ministry was a main purpose in the founding of Yale College in 1701." ("History of Yale Divinity School.") See also the Harvard Divinity School website: “The origins of Harvard Divinity School and the study of theology at Harvard can be traced back to the very beginning of Harvard College.” ("Harvard Divinity School–History and Mission.") http://www.hds.harvard.edu/history.html

2 "About Princeton Theological Seminary–History of the Seminary."
http://www.ptsem.edu/About/mission.php

- Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection, page 505

* Added links to the footnotes are from CIE bibl.

Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History

Quote:
"As for this tiresome business about there being "no scholar" or "no serious scholar" who advocates the Christ Myth theory: Isn't it obvious that scholarly communities are defined by certain axioms in which grad students are trained, and that they will lose standing in those communities if they depart from those axioms? The existence of an historical Jesus is currently one of those. That should surprise no one, especially with the rightward lurch of the Society for Biblical Literature in recent years. It simply does not matter how many scholars hold a certain opinion.... "

- Dr. Robert M. Price, Biblical Scholar


geo wrote:
there's going to be stiff resistance to the idea that Jesus never existed

Agreed! However, we do have a start here as evangelicals are themselves questioning the Adam and Eve historicity Adam and Eve a myth?

They simply need to apply that same critical eye towards all the other biblical characters listed in the mythicist position. Remember, they're already mythicists when it comes to all other religions - that's a start!! It might be best to educate theists about the mythicist position by beginning with a religion they are not a devotee so they don't get offended or take things so personally straight away ... The Origins of Islam

I'd like to see academia finally create a sorely needed Department of Astrotheological Studies that factors in the astronomy and mythology at the root of religious origins as pointed out in the work by Acharya S/Murdock.

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
- Historian Stephen Henry Roberts

"Instead of mythology being a disease of language, it may be truly said that our theology is a disease of mythology"
- Gerald Massey



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
I like how Earl Doherty really puts the pressure on the so-called experts:

Quote:
Scholarly Opinion

by Earl Doherty

"Why is it that no individual scholar or group of scholars has undertaken a concerted effort in recent times to discredit the mythicist position? (The brief addresses that have been made to it in various publications are outlined in my Main Article "Postscript".) In the heyday of the great mythicists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a few valiant efforts were offered. However, both mainstream scholarship and the mythicist branch itself have made dramatic leaps since then. Biblical research has moved into bold new territory in the last several decades: unearthing a wealth of ancient documents, arriving at a new understanding of elements like Q, the sectarian nature of early Christianity, the Cynic roots of the great Gospel teachings, and so on; an almost unprecedented "critical" dimension to New Testament scholarship has emerged.

And yet the mythicist position continues to be vilified, disdained, dismissed. We would condemn any physicist, any anthropologist, any linguist, any mathematician, any scholar of any sort who professes to work in a field that makes even a partial bow to principles of logic and scientific research who yet ignored, reviled, condemned largely without examination a legitimate, persistent theory in his or her discipline. There are tremendous problems in New Testament research, problems that have been grappled with for generations and show no sign of getting closer to solution. Agreement is lacking on countless topics, and yesterday's theories are being continually overturned. There is almost a civil war going on within the ranks of Jesus study. Why not give the mythicist option some serious consideration? Why not honestly evaluate it to see if it could provide some of the missing answers? Or, if it turns out that the case is fatally flawed, then put it to rest once and for all.

Doing that would require one essential thing: taking it seriously, approaching the subject having an open mind that the theory might have some merit. Sadly, that is the most difficult step and the one which most critics have had the greatest difficulty taking. It is all in the mindset, whether of the Christian believer whose confessional interests are overriding, or of the professional scholar who could never consider that their life's work might be fatally compromised."

- posted here


I wish the Dawkins, Harris et all crowd would give Acharya's work kudos since these guys aren't getting to the heart of the issues at all but, Acharya S certainly does - Acharya's Work Complements Sam Harris's Philosophy

The Mythicist Position - video



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Thanks FTL for responding here. My comments in this post are in response to Geo.
geo wrote:
Michael Shermer discusses the concept of burden of proof in his book, Why People Believe Weird Things. The title is telling in this case because either a historical or a mythical Jesus may seem weird, depending on your perspective. Ultimately, we have to determine where the evidence lies.
Many thanks Geo for these constructive comments. You are absolutely right that questioning the historical existence of Jesus Christ as described in the Bible seems mind-bending to people who have been thoroughly indoctrinated with the idea of Jesus as the best man ever. It is a scientific question of historical evidence.
Quote:
So who has the burden of proof in this mythicism/historicism debate? It appears to me that the mythicists do for no other reason than that the historical Jesus is firmly established traditionally. It's the de facto position taken by in the vast majority of scholars and by professors at universities and colleges. It is embedded in our culture. It's easy to see how this came to be. For many hundreds of years our scholars were also deeply religious. They were not only heavily vested in a historical Jesus, but a divine one as well. Now that we've pared away the divine Jesus, it won't be easy to divest ourselves of the historical one. A historical Jesus is established and normal, despite a lack of evidence. So to overthrow the idea of a historical Jesus will require a paradigm shift which has to be driven by evidence.
Yes, correct, mythicism has the burden of proof, as indicated in the dismissive attitude of mainstream scholars in the James McGrath blog I cited above.
Quote:
Thomas Kuhn defined "paradigm shift" as it pertained to scientific theory. The paradigm defines the normal science of an age as it is traditionally accepted by a majority of practicing scientists in a field. A shift will occur when enough renegade and heretical scientists gain enough evidence and power to overthrow the existing paradigm.
So for mythicists to address the burden of proof, they need a new paradigm that explains how the historical story arose, and presents a new explanation that explains all the facts in a coherent and parsimonious theory. This is where the question of a scientific basis of mythic ideation becomes critical. Murdock argues that astrotheology, the idea that myth originates in explanation of observation of the cosmos, is the basis of this new paradigm. This is an idea that I have supported since writing my BA Honours thesis in 1985 on the topic of messianic visions of precession of the equinox. At that time I was only 22 years old, and was relying more on intuition and logic than a fully worked out scientific theory. My readers at the time found the ideas incomprehensible, and almost failed me for it. Since then I have been avidly reading a wide range of supporting material, and now consider we are at the cusp of a breakthrough, with a new scientific explanation of religion about to emerge into public debate. Discovering Murdock's work through Booktalk, and seeing how she is comprehensively ignored, showed me that this new paradigm touches deep emotional questions, and requires a sound scientific framework in order to obtain traction.

The key to seeing precession as the framework of mythology is recognising that the observed shift of the spring point at the time of Christ matches exactly to Christian theology of Christ as a turning point of time, as reflected in our BC/AD calendar. The big idea is that the time of Christ was seen as a moment of cosmic harmony, when the seasons matched the stars, but that later interpreters could not understand this vision. The Biblical idea of the second coming of Jesus Christ fits into this paradigm, as a prediction of a future situation where Christianity will be reconciled with science through astrotheology.
Quote:
Shermer points out that evolutionists had the burden of proof for a half a century after the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species, but now the burden of proof is on the creationists. Likewise, the burden of proof is on Holocaust deniers to prove that the Holocaust didn't really happen.
Murdock recently endorsed my comparison of her to climate scientists who have faced a "bewildering brick wall of ignorance and indifference." We see that ideas initially ignored and mocked have entered mainstream knowledge, such as orbital cycles for climate, plate tectonics and the theory of ice ages. Religion is a much more personal question for people, so a similar paradigm shift in the core ideas of Christian theology faces an even stronger burden of proof, introducing the need to explain the possibility of intentional mass delusion, than these objective mechanical questions such as evolution and climate.
Quote:
Though historical events can't be repeated, they can be tested and validated. According to Shermer, "each of us may have a different view of history, but they are not all equally valid. Some are historical, and some are pseudohistorical, namely without supporting evidence and plausibility and presented primarily for political or ideological purposes."
The mythicist argument is that the historical record provides no evidence for a literal Christ, and abundant evidence for the syndrome of invention of convenient religious myths. It becomes a question of the balance of probability, with abundant scientific evidence cohering with the mythicist explanation, and only traditional authority supporting the conventional view.
Quote:
The mythicist position seems increasingly plausible to me. I'm not saying I'm there yet, but I'm at least more open to the position. I'm new to this debate and I haven't read CiE yet, but I would agree that the traditional view is corrupt and promoted over the centuries by religiously-motivated ideologists. But it's also interesting to see that historicists are saying the same thing about the mythicists: they are motivated by a secular ideology. No matter what, there's going to be stiff resistance to the idea that Jesus never existed.

Historicists are actually getting more desperate. Earl Doherty's massive new book on the topic Jesus, Neither God Nor Man - the case for a mythical Jesus has moved the debate on from the earlier attitude that this material could be ignored into a situation where apologists are responding through ridicule and fallacious assertions, such as threadbare comparisons with creationism.

The question you raise Geo of secular ideology is critical here. Philosophers often hold unquestioned assumptions on this topic, seeing intellectual progress as a steady evolutionary march from the sacred to the secular, from faith to reason, from religion to science. However, the mythicist argument does not fit so easily against this equally dominant modern paradigm, as it also involves a challenge to the enlightenment atheist view that religion is bunk. If religion is actually allegory for a deeper hidden natural truth, as claimed by astrotheology, then the secular psychological wiring of modernity also comes under challenge, open to critical scrutiny just as much as the supernatural sacred brain wiring of Christian ideology.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
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So who has the burden of proof in this mythicism/historicism debate? It appears to me that the mythicists do for no other reason than that the historical Jesus is firmly established traditionally.


Being firmly established traditionally does not specify how it was established. By all observation, it has been established on nothing but faith, which amounts to the populace simply believing the what they're told. That does not fulfil the burden of proof for the claim that Jesus was historical. Both sides have a certain amount of burden to support their positions.

If the historical claim only has the "firm tradition" in it's support, then it relies on argumentum ad antiquitatem, a logical fallacy. Actual evidence only seems abundant on the mythicist side of the debate. Even if neither side has sufficiently filled the burden, the mythicist side seems much closer to doing so.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Thanks Interbane, this burden of proof question is complicated. It is always the way that a new idea has to meet a higher standard of proof, just as invaders need more force than defenders. Argument from antiquity may be a fallacy, but in this case it is so pervasive, and superficially so plausible, that there are exceptionally high hurdles for the suggestion that it lacks empirical basis. An alternative superior theory needs to be articulated. It is not enough just to point to the inductive inconsistencies between faith and evidence, what is required is a deductive theory that explains why this massive error became so dominant.



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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
And CiE was written to contribute more proofs to the puzzle. Murdock goes beyond most of the mythicists with her Alexandrian hypothesis and providing a very clear presentation of what happens when all of the writings of ancient sources are put together and considered free and clear of preconceived ideas about what Christian origins ought to have entailed. It provides a fresh new perspective towards the skepticism towards an historical core to the Jesus myth.

But the burden proof issue is so very simple. Mainstream authorities claim that the life of Jesus is one of the most well documented of the time, irrefutably concrete and absolute. A claim has been made, the first claim as a matter of fact. The mythicist is simply a skeptic, an agnostic who lacks enough information to move from a position of uncertainty to certainty on the issue. The mythicist looks at the initial claim made by authority, considers the evidence provided as proof for the initial claim, and declares that the burden of proof has not been met by the mainstream authorities standing behind the initial claim. There is a lot of evidence linking the Christian myth to previous mythological motifs that break down to mystical nature references. The mythicist concludes that the story is largely mythical in content, there's no credible evidence given in support of an historical core for the mythology, and the mythicist would prefer to approach the Jesus myth as fully mythological until proven otherwise.

And then the historicist comes back at the mythicist by demanding the burden of proof from the mythicist, a burden of proof which has not yet been established for the historical claim made by authority in the first place. The mythicist doesn't have to prove that Jesus was entirely mythical. Can that even be proven absolutely? I doubt it. But the same applies to Horus and Zues. The Jesus myth can be understood along the same lines of the Egyptian and Greek myths that academics regard as pure mythology until proven otherwise. We can't say with certainty that Horus was based on the life of an ancient king, and anyone seeking to make that claim would have to prove it. Those skeptical of the historical claim don't have to prove anything other than to point to the lack of credible historical evidence as the reason for their skepticism. What applies to one supernatural storyline ought to apply to another.

And as I see it, that's where this paradigm shift begins...


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
Robert Tulip wrote:
. . . So for mythicists to address the burden of proof, they need a new paradigm that explains how the historical story arose, and presents a new explanation that explains all the facts in a coherent and parsimonious theory. This is where the question of a scientific basis of mythic ideation becomes critical. Murdock argues that astrotheology, the idea that myth originates in explanation of observation of the cosmos, is the basis of this new paradigm. This is an idea that I have supported since writing my BA Honours thesis in 1985 on the topic of messianic visions of precession of the equinox. At that time I was only 22 years old, and was relying more on intuition and logic than a fully worked out scientific theory. My readers at the time found the ideas incomprehensible, and almost failed me for it. Since then I have been avidly reading a wide range of supporting material, and now consider we are at the cusp of a breakthrough, with a new scientific explanation of religion about to emerge into public debate. Discovering Murdock's work through Booktalk, and seeing how she is comprehensively ignored, showed me that this new paradigm touches deep emotional questions, and requires a sound scientific framework in order to obtain traction.

The key to seeing precession as the framework of mythology is recognising that the observed shift of the spring point at the time of Christ matches exactly to Christian theology of Christ as a turning point of time, as reflected in our BC/AD calendar. The big idea is that the time of Christ was seen as a moment of cosmic harmony, when the seasons matched the stars, but that later interpreters could not understand this vision. The Biblical idea of the second coming of Jesus Christ fits into this paradigm, as a prediction of a future situation where Christianity will be reconciled with science through astrotheology.


Robert, you lost me about midway through. You seem to agree with Murdock's argument that Christianity is rooted in older myths that are based on the observation of the cosmos. This is all above board and seems to be supported by the evidence.

The argument that Jesus never existed at all possibly takes us onto slightly less firm ground. It still seems plausible that older myths were grafted onto an actual person named Jesus, but this is beside the point. I'm open to either possibility. I can also see the possibility that Jesus was completely fabricated, presumably like many other deities, and the idea of a historical Jesus came into being and was perpetuated by true believers.

But then you make this statement: "The Biblical idea of the second coming of Jesus Christ fits into this paradigm, as a prediction of a future situation where Christianity will be reconciled with science through astrotheology." This seems to be more your wish that astrotheological component of Christianity will someday become more relevant. I doubt the early mythologists could have anticipated the extent to which modern science would split from mystical explanations of the world. Were people at the dawn of Christianity even aware of Christianity as a religion? It seems to me that 2,000 years ago, we were still groping in the dark in terms of scientific understanding and that such a statement is not as well supported by evidence as your basic premise that Christianity is rooted in an observation of the cosmos. I don't know if Murdock goes into such mystical territory or not, but it seems that if there is to be a paradigm shift leading to wider acceptance of the astrological basis of Christianity, it has to be strictly evidence-based or you risk having the proverbial baby tossed out with the bathwater.

Just my $.02.


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Post Re: Christ in Egypt: The Mythicist Position
It is about trying to work out the intentions of the writers of the Gospels. To attempt to reconstruct how the gospels came to be written, we have to consider what the source documents were. The Gospels have an astrotheological framework grounded in observation of precession of the equinox. The interesting thing is that this framework has been suppressed and hidden for the last two thousand years. If we imagine Jesus Christ as the hidden genius responsible for this big idea that gave the impetus to the embroidered tales, we do come back to an evemerist reading, but one that is entirely different from conventional pictures. You can consider this a gospel according to Robert Tulip.

The most comparable modern writer in my view is Milutin Milankovitch. He worked in complete isolation and great difficulty to develop a mathematical model of how orbital factors, primarily the Great Year of precession of the equinox, are the primary long term drivers of regularity in the cycles of terrestrial climate seen in glaciation. After being mocked and ignored, Milankovitch is now recognized in mainstream science as a brilliant genius.

If we think of Jesus in similar light as an astrotheological genius who studied the long term patterns of astronomy, we can imagine that he travelled from Israel to Egypt in his youth, and like Moses and Plato, learned the ancient wisdom of Egyptian star religion, with its amazing scientific precision and beauty, as the basis for understanding how the earth relates to the cosmos in terms of slow temporal cycles. The key and decisive observation at his time was that in the slow sweep of the stars against the seasons, the alignment had reached exactness in 20 AD, as predicted at Daniel 9 in the prophecy of the 69 weeks from Ezra to the Anointed One. This turning point of time, shown in the diagram below, marks the moment when the spring equinox passes from its location in the sign of the Ram, Aries, to the sign of the Fishes, Pisces.

If this observed change in the heavens is postulated to be reflected in world history, we then have an ancient basis to see Christianity as a new age religion, and can speculate that Christ wrote core lost texts that explained this vision. Here I wish to focus on two of these texts, the feeding of the multitude in the miracle of the loaves and fishes and the prediction of the second coming in the Olivet Discourse.

Feeding the Multitude: in this miracle, Jesus produces abundant resources by 'looking up to heaven', complaining that no one understands him, and transforming a few loaves and fish into enough food to feed thousands of people. Considered as astrotheology, as an allegory for the shift of precession into a new zodiacal age, loaves are the sign of Virgo while fish are the sign of Pisces. At the Jewish New Year at the spring equinox in March, the position of the sun was precessing from Aries into Pisces, while the position of the full moon (Easter) was precessing from Libra into Virgo. Based on the 'as above so below' Hermetic cosmology of Egypt, reflected in Jesus' prayer 'thy will be done on earth as in heaven', this decisive syzygy was shifting the earth from an axis symbolized by balance and lamb to an axis symbolized by loaves and fishes. If the loaves are the Easter moon in Virgo and the fishes are the Easter Sun in Pisces, we have a cosmic framework for a new age, a roughly 2000 year long period that is only now ending. Similarly, the 4000 or 5000 men who are fed represent the stars of the sky. A further allegory is that the five loaves are the five visible planets, while the two fishes are the sun and moon. The twelve baskets of broken pieces left over are the twelve signs of the zodiac, the months of the year.

The parable here is that the old age of Aries/Libra had lost its creative dynamism, and that human spirituality had to orient to the emerging positions of the cosmos that would characterize the time to come in the then dawning age of Pisces.

If the loaves and fishes symbolize the Age of Pisces/Virgo, then the Second Coming symbolizes the future age of Aquarius/Leo. This is a model of time that finds strong reflection in Christian sources with the idea, through Peter and Augustine, that a day is as a thousand years to God. Augustine taught that there would be seven thousand years from creation to consummation of the cosmos, matching to the seven days of Genesis, with the last day as the sabbath day of peace as the time of the second coming of Christ. Setting this cosmology against the framework of precession, as shown below, we see that the mythic time of Adam is the dawn of the Age of Taurus, Abraham and Moses represent the Age of Aries, Christ is the avatar of the Age of Pisces, and the Second Coming of Christ inaugurates the millennium of global peace in the Age of Aquarius. The old estimate is two thousand years per age, producing a creationist history of the universe over 3.5 ages. It is possible to take this material out of its creationist milieu and understand it against the scientific observation of astronomy, seen in precession.

The Olivet Discourse coheres precisely with this framework as an explanation of "the end of the age". The term "age" here has a parsimonious and elegant scientific meaning as the period in which the spring equinox would occur when the sun is in the constellation of Pisces. In saying that the gospel of the kingdom of god would be preached to the whole inhabited earth and then the end would come, the prediction is that the story of the Age of Pisces would be that a message of its origin would become a basis for global religion before it would be explained correctly. The prediction is that the messiah would need to come twice, first to establish universal belief, at which time he would not be understood, and then to convert this universal belief into universal knowledge. So the first coming of Christ was essentially a time of preparation for an actual salvation of the world that will occur with the shift to the new age of Aquarius.

There are two plausible models for the timing of the Age of Aquarius. Precession has a period of 25765 years, giving an age period of 2147 years, suggesting a transition point more than a century in the future. However, using the findings of Milankovitch to see how this spin wobble drives the climate, we find that the whole orbit of the earth is processing around the sun, shortening the precession period to 21,636 years, as I explained here. The real cycle of 21,636 years is how long it takes the solstices and equinoxes to travel around the earth's orbit from perihelion (closest to the sun) to aphelion (furthest from the sun) and back. We reached the low point in 1296 AD.

If we consider the Great Year to be the actual long term climate cycle driven by precession, the long term force that pushed sea level down by 140 meters 20,000 years ago and dumped a mile of ice on North America and Europe, then we see that precession considered alone does not drive terrestrial cycles, but it has to be seen together with the other orbital cycles measured by Milankovitch, and other non-periodic factors such as anthropogenic emissions. If we still consider there is a meaning in dividing this long term cycle by twelve, a question with no proven dynamic basis, but one that aligns to the old structure of astrology and the months, then we find that one twelfth of the period of the terrestrial light cycle of the Great Year is 1803 years. It all suggests that we are now reaching the time of the end of the age of Pisces predicted in the Olivet Discourse, as a time when a fundamental paradigm shift would align human thought to reality.

Attachment:
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Equinox September 21 AD.gif [ 73.64 KiB | Viewed 2822 times ]



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