To which I responded:
Paul did that to distinguish James in 1:19 from James the apostle. Alternately, if we assume that James the apostle was the “James, brother of the Lord” mentioned in 1:19, then a biological interpretation is falsified by the fact that Luke-Acts knows of no biological brother James who held an active role in the church.
“This is typical of mythicists – being satisfied with any counterclaim without paying attention to or even giving much thought to the details. In this example, for instance, isn’t it obvious to everyone else, and not only to me, that if ‘brother of the Lord’ means ‘Christian’ then it is no more useful as a way of contrasting one Christian James from another who happens to be an apostle, than it is useful as a way of distinguishing between the James and Peter mentioned in Galatians?”
I’ve found McGrath’s words confusing, but if he means ‘why didn’t Paul call Peter the brother of the Lord?’ That would be easy: 1) Peter and James don’t have the same name, thus there is less reason for a distinction, and 2) Peter may have been a ‘brother of the Lord’ but he was not merely a ‘brother of the Lord,’ he was clearly a high-ranking leader of the church, so calling him a ‘brother of the Lord’ would be like a talk show host introducing the pope as merely a “Christian.”
Responding to someone in the comments section who commented on the many possibilities mythicists have concerning Galatians 1:19, McGrath’s circular reasoning becomes apparent:
“Carrier himself lacks credentials in New Testament studies, however, which is not reason to reject his argument, but does leave one wondering why it is that adequately credentialed New Testament scholars almost universally reject the mythicist position.”
I don’t know the answer to that question. That’s the problem. So far, Larry Hurtado, James McGrath, and a few others have taken a swing at it only to fall flat on their face, leaving me with no idea why they reject it.
Jonathan Bernier, like other anti-mythicists, also isn’t very good at logic:
“The mythicist narrative rests essentially upon a conspiracy theory, namely that New Testament scholars are beholden to disciplinary pressure such that they are unable to see or speak the truth, but that just begs the question by supposing that mythicism is true.”
First, if you want a good look at how Christian faith assumptions permeate new testament scholarship, look no further than Bart Ehrman’s Forged. From the book’s description: “[T]his book takes on an idea widely accepted by biblical scholars: that writing in someone else’s name was common practice and perfectly okay in ancient times. Ehrman argues that it was not even then considered acceptable—hence, a forgery.” Why did scholars think it was “perfectly acceptable” to write in someone else’s name for so long? Pro-Christian bias. It is not to be found in the ancient evidence. If you can understand that without positing a conspiracy theory, but rather as the shared biases of believers, who are naturally in the majority in biblical studies, then you can understand the Christ myth theory without positing a conspiracy theory.
Second, it isn’t ‘begging the question’ to see bias in NT scholarship, for that is not a conclusion deduced from the Christ myth theory, it’s just an evident fact the more you look at the field. NT Wright’s book – which argued that a dead body came back to life and that anyone who didn’t conclude the same was a ‘Herod,’ – was the subject of a full issue in The Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. But that same journal hasn’t been even slightly interested in the question of whether its object of study is even a real thing!
Larry Hurtado was asked a question regarding whether there is a ‘pre-Christian Jesus’ in Philo:
“Yes, in another of his writings (NB: contra Carrier, not in the De Confusione passage), Philo can refer to the Logos by the labels you cite. Indeed, he can even refer to the Logos as ‘a second god’ (deuteros theos), but then quickly qualifies this with ‘so to speak.’ The Logos is an ‘archangel’ (remembering that for ancient Greek speakers the word ‘angelos’ = messenger, or spokesman), for the Logos is the expression of the ineffable biblical deity toward the world/creation. One has to study carefully the multitude of Philo’s references to the Logos to put it all together, for he was a complex writer. But the Logos isn’t really a separate ontological being, like we imagine an ‘angel/archangel.’ And, contra Carrier, nowhere does Philo refer to an archangel named ‘Jesus.'”
Who does Hurtado think he’s refuting by pointing out a difference between Philo and Christianity? That would only be relevant if somebody out there was arguing that Christianity directly stole everything it believed from Philo. Instead, Philo and Christianity both ‘inherited’ their theology from a common ideological ‘ancestor,’ a fact which is undeniable given their deep similarities. Hurtado himself writes:
I identify ancient Jewish traditions of what I call “divine agency”, distinguishing three types: (1) personified divine attributes, such as Wisdom and Philo’s Logos; (2) “exalted patriarchs”–Enoch, Moses, and others; and (3) “principal angels” including Michael and others. I contend that these all are variant forms of what we can call “chief agent” tradition, in which God is pictured as having a particular figure acting as God’s plenipotentiary or vizier. I further propose that the early christological statements appear to portray Jesus as God’s unique agent, and so likely drew upon these traditions.
The heavens and Earth were thought to be mirror images of one another (read Hebrews, see what I mean) such that there was a heavenly double of everything on Earth and vice versa. Given that context, if there is an earthly Joshua who builds the temple of the Lord and serves as high priest (Zechariah 6) then there must also a heavenly Joshua who builds the temple of the Lord (“I will destroy this temple and in three days raise it up!”) who will serve as high priest of this heavenly temple (Lo and behold: Hebrews 8:1-2).
So, Hurtado butchered Carrier’s argument by assuming the Christians borrowed directly from Philo, when Carrier’s argument only assumes that Philo’s and early Christian theologies stem from a common tradition, a conclusion that Hurtado shares and has even published in support of! Unbelievable.
“For atheists to try to use mythicism as though it were an argument against Christianity makes no sense.”