• On the Historicity, Part 7.

    This is the seventh part of my review of Richard Carrier’s On the Historicity of Jesus. The other parts of my review can be found here.

    Today I will talk about a modest piece of evidence against Carrier’s theory. You see, under his explanation of Christianity, the gospels were written as symbolic myths, and early church figures like Peter and James were woven into the story. That raises the question: Why didn’t Mark include Paul as one of the twelve disciples in his book? After all, if the other church leaders had known Jesus only through visions, it would make perfect sense for Mark to have written Paul in as one of them, and if he did, that’d be a dead giveaway at what he was doing, since we know through Paul’s letters that he never met Jesus in person.

    If Jesus was historical, there’s essentially a 100% chance that Paul would not have been placed in the gospels.

    What are the chances that he would’ve been stuck in the gospel accounts if Jesus was a myth?

    We can argue that the chances are high because Mark seems to have worked in just about every other big whig from early Christianity into his account.

    We can argue that the chances are low because Mark seems to have been a Pauline Christian, and the chances are small that he would’ve wanted to portray Paul as one of the cowardly, half-witted disciples like the others were portrayed. We can object to this argument by noting that Mark certainly portrayed Peter badly (having him deny Jesus thrice) even though Mark also has Jesus designate Peter as ‘The Rock.’ On the other hand, as Paulinist Christian, Mark would have reason enough to dislike Peter (even while maintaining a certain small amount of respect for the guy) because Peter didn’t want gentiles in the church, while Paul did, and again, Mark may not have wanted to lump Paul in with the twelve whom he portrayed as idiots.

    On the other hand, Paul wouldn’t have been among the very earliest followers (Paul says, in 1 Corinthians 15, that Christ appeared to him “as to one born out of time;” In other words, Paul’s vision was a lone event separated from the other visions rather distantly) and that may account for why Mark didn’t give Paul a place in his gospel.

    Under mythicism, there are two possibilities: either Paul would mention Jesus or he would not. Good reasons can be given for either possibility, but nothing conclusive either way. I will therefore estimate it as 50% likely under mythicism that Paul wouldn’t make it into the gospels. As such, this counts as modest evidence against mythicism.

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    Article by: Nicholas Covington

    I am an armchair philosopher with interests in Ethics, Epistemology (that's philosophy of knowledge), Philosophy of Religion, Politics and what I call "Optimal Lifestyle Habits."