The Christ Myth Theory In Question (Part 3)

Ed and I interviewed Carrier today. I think he did well on the question of the Nazareth Inscription, but not how missing body apotheosis tropes are problematic for his theory of a resurrected body that left behind the old body. This certainly fits with Paul saying Jesus was buried and raised. I thought he did well on the post pauline interpolation of the anti-Jewish passage in the letters, but stumbled in trying to account for the disciples fleeing and getting violent at the arrest. While fictionalized, there does seem to be a hint of truth here:

We have stories that keep hidden the crucifixion and resurrection as key to salvation, such of that of the sheep/goats and the rich young man.   The man leaves Jesus only knowing he is to keep the commandments and give everything to the poor. There seems to be an interpretive issue that Mark solves with the messianic secret/confusion literary theme that Wrede first suggested.  Why would the disciples get violent and flee at the arrest if it was on anyone’s radar that Jesus was supposed to die?  We see a similar topic in Paul telling people to submit to the leadership (Rom 13:1-2), suggesting there was some animosity at the time between Christians and the rulers   We have Jesus repeatedly predicting his passion/resurrection, but the disciples don’t understand.  This is unlikely as history but it solves the problem of why Mark would include the detail of the disciples getting violent.  The issue seems to be there was some sort of known confrontation at Jesus’ arrest, and the Mark needed to account for this detail while maintaining the centrality of the passion and resurrection: Of course the passion and resurrection was always part of the plan, it just wasn’t shared with the public and the disciples didn’t understand, lol! This is Mark engaged in apologetics. Originally, Jesus’s passion and resurrection were not topics during Jesus’s lifetime.

On this topic, McGrath comments:

  • I think that, as the Gospels depict, Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. It is not a location otherwise mentioned in ancient sources and so probably not simply borrowed from local geography, and several embarrassing events – Judas’ betrayal and the attempt to defend Jesus with a sword, to say nothing of Jesus own prayer to not have to go through with what was to follow (despite Christian theology turning it into God’s plan for saving humankind). And so I view this as based on something historical. The denial of Jesus by Peter is also unlikely to have been invented, and so its setting is likely historical, with Jesus being taken to the high priest’s residence. We have no reason to think that any of Jesus’ followers were party to what actually was discussed there. It is usually assumed that the depiction of a trial and antagonism from the Jewish leaders was part of an effort to shift blame from the Romans, and there is probably some truth in that. But it may also be that Christians were seeking to shift blame from Peter (or whoever else it might have been, if not him) who drew a sword and injured someone in the high priest’s retinue. Had this not been done, perhaps the Jewish leadership would have tried to simply keep Jesus locked away until after the feast, hoping that this might be enough to pacify the Romans. But with evidence of a willingness of his followers to use violence, they probably had no choice but to hand Jesus over. And the haste with which they do so makes clear that it was the Romans who ultimately were pressing for Jesus to be dealt with, or at least, pressing for the Jewish authorities to take measures to ensure stability at Passover.