(REVIEW part 8) “Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist (2021)?” Robert M Price’s response to Bart Ehrman
The passage I would like to focus on from Price’s response to Ehrman in chapter 14 of the anthology is the following:
- What is at issue in the question of Paul not mentioning Pilate or the Sanhedrin as the culprits in Jesus’ death? Paul never describes the crucifixion as a mundane execution at the hands of earthly governing authorities (though of course nothing he says rules out that possibility). What he does say is that Jesus was done to death by “the rulers (archons) of this cosmos” (1 Corinthians 2:8), “the Principalities and Powers” (Colossians 1:16; 2:14-15). Mythicists infer that the author of these epistles was writing at a time when Christians believed in a celestial Man of Light who had not appeared on the earth to teach and heal and die on a Roman cross, but who had been ambushed and slain by the demonic entities (fallen angels, archons, elemental spirits) inhabiting the lower heavens. As we read in various surviving Gnostic texts, this death would have occurred in the primordial past. His slayers harvested the sparks of his Light-body and used them to seed the inert mud-pie creations of the Demiurge, imparting life and motion to them, beginning with Adam. Thus the death of the Primal Light-Man turned out to be a life-giving sacrifice, much like that of the Vedic Purusha. (W. Loftus, John; M. Price, Robert. Varieties of Jesus Mythicism: Did He Even Exist? (pp. 344-345). Hypatia Press. Kindle Edition).
I don’t think a reasonable argument can be made that Jesus was killed by anyone besides other humans, which I will outline at a later time, but speaking to the above claim Jesus’s death occurred in the primordial past, I don’t think this fits Paul and the first Christians at all. as Carrier points out, Paul cites a tradition that he got from previous Christians that “that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures.” So, Christ died, was buried, and was raised over a three day period. And, Paul seemingly thought this was recent, as he calls Christ the “firstfruits” of the general resurrection of souls at the end of the age which had begun. We can infer then that since the death burial and resurrection was very close in time, and the resurrection apocalypse was beginning in Paul’s time according to him, then Jesus’s death couldn’t have taken place in the primordial past. As to Price’s point about the demons or archons of this aeon killing Jesus, although this may initially seem like a check in the mythicism column, I really don’t think it is, which I will explain later.
So, over the last eight posts I’ve addressed what I wanted to from the anthology, which I recommend as very interesting. My next post will be a general critique of mythicism, maybe in a couple months or so as it is under peer review. I specifically look at the implication of Hebrews for the mythicism argument, and so in a sense responds to Doherty’s essay from the Varieties of Mythicism anthology that I posted about earlier. For further analysis of this anthology, see mythicist Richard Carrier’s review: The Problem with Varieties of Jesus Mythicism