Easter 2023 Blog Post 3/3: Who Killed Jesus?
Pilate Washes His Hands by James Tissot  For my previous 2 posts in this Easter 2023 miniseries, I talked about: Happy Easter: My Favorite Easter Joke It’s Holy Saturday, So What Happened To Jesus Between Good Friday And Easter? Piggybacking off of those, especially the first one, I'd like to conclude in the following way: It's not academically controversial to concede there are exegetical allusions in Mark's crucifixion narrative that have to be "put out of play" or "bracketed" as to their historicity because they are rewrites of Psalms and 2nd Isaiah, and so the early church would have had motivation to invent such theologically charged passages out of whole cloth. That's not to say they did, but who knows? As I said previously, this gets really interesting with allusions to Psalm 22:16b LXX and especially Paul in Galatians 3:13 which is appropriating Deuteronomy 21:23 because perhaps the crucifixion itself is an invented detail, whereas Jesus actually died by ot ... Read Article
Survival Researcher or Christian Apologist? Could You Tell the Difference? (Part 1 of 3)
Man is a credulous animal, and must believe something; in the absence of good grounds for belief, he will be satisfied with bad ones.     — Bertrand Russell, "An Outline of Intellectual Rubbish" (1943) In my critique of the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) essay competition on the "best" evidence for life after death and my response to the summer and winter commentaries on it, I made reference to striking similarities between the arguments made by Christian fundamentalists and survival researchers (i.e., those who purport to investigate survival of bodily death scientifically). In this three-part guest post, I'd like to highlight or elaborate on fifteen or so examples of how those at the forefront of "scientific" research into an afterlife—or in BICS' framing, the survival of human consciousness after death—have consistently used fallacious arguments that mirror parallel arguments prominent among fundamentalist Christians. Here I'll only note instances ... Read Article
It’s Holy Saturday, So What Happened To Jesus Between Good Friday And Easter?
The Harrowing of Hell, Petites Heures, 14th-century illuminated manuscript commissioned by John, Duke of Berry. So what did Jesus do between Good Friday and Easter? One old tradition is the Harrowing of Hell where Jesus descended to Hell and liberated the captives there. Christ's descent into the world of the dead is referred to in the Apostles' Creed and the Athanasian Creed (Quicumque vult), which state that he "descended into the underworld" (descendit ad inferos), although neither mention that he liberated the dead. The Harrowing of Hell interpretation is popular, but it is mostly inferential guesswork that has little scriptural basis. Here's some wisdom from Wikipedia: Although the Harrowing of Hell is taught by the Lutheran, Catholic, Reformed, and Orthodox traditions, a number of Christians reject the doctrine of the "harrowing of hell", claiming that "there is scant scriptural evidence for [it], and that Jesus's own words contradict it". John Piper, for example, says "there is no text ... Read Article
Happy Easter: My Favorite Easter Joke
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio, c. 1602 Regarding Good Friday, I've talked before of the well known point in academic New Testament studies that Jesus' passion is basically a creative re-write of Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, so it's questionable that there is any historical material in there. Our earliest detail of the crucifixion is from Paul that Christ died according to the scriptures, which could mean anything from Christ died in agreement with what is said in the scriptures, to we learn how Christ figuratively died by reading the scriptures. And, there's lots of room in between these 2 poles of the spectrum. But, what about the crucifixion? Was Jesus crucified? Again, this may be a creative re-write of Psalm 22:16b LXX, and more directly Galatians 3:13 which is appropriating Deuteronomy 21:23. Intertextuality aside, Paul may have introduced the crucifixion element into the Jesus tradition because it seems to be absent from the inherited material (in the 7 authentic letters o ... Read Article
Unhooking The Bra Of Mystery
"Free the Springfield 2 Marge, free the Springfield 2!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gxnk1BBN9Mk In the previous 3 posts in this series I talked about brainwashing and indoctrination in (1) Religion: (a) Religion as Undue Influence (kiosk article) (b) Religion And Brainwashing (2) Sexuality: (2/2) Brainwashing and Indoctrination in Culture and Sexuality But if we are ethically compelled, as Foucault said, to battle fascisms both in society and in ourselves, what does such a process look like? For instance, we know female breasts are experienced as sexual by many males, even though this is not an objective feature of them since gay men don't experience them as sexual. Moreover, "In African tribal societies breasts are not considered sexual organs and women carry on topless without a care in the world. (Koraly Dimitriadis, Why can’t women take their tops off in public?) One of the most important continental philosophers of the 20th century, Gilles Deleuze (along with ... Read Article
Jesus and Satire (2/2)
For more on Jesus and satire (lampooning, exaggerating for effect, etc), please see my three Modern Library articles: The Justified Lie By Jesus In The Gospel Of John A Critique Of The Penal Substitution Interpretation Of The Cross Of Christ Jesus Mythicism And Penal Substitution ps: Also check out my other Christian Origins posts on this blog. The Dramatis Personae in ancient comedy. “The Knights”is a comedy by the ancient Greek playwright Aristophanes. It won first prize at the Lenaia festival when it was produced in 424 BCE. The play is a satire on political and social life in 5th Century BCE Athens, and in particular a diatribe against the pro-war populist politician, Cleon. In the play, a sausage-seller, Agoracritus, vies with Paphlagonian (representing Cleon) for the confidence and approval of Demos (an elderly man who symbolizes the Athenian citizenry) and Agoracritus emerges triumphant from a series of contests and miraculously restores Demos to his former youth and glory. ... Read Article
Jesus and Satire: A New Darth Harley Video!
Aside from doing the blog here, I do Secular Web Kids where the fictional Darth Harley is the mascot. I thought I'd talk about that process a little, so upcoming will be a new Darth Harley video about Jesus and satire. I talk about this topic in my critique of penal substitution essay AND my mythicism and penal substitution essay - I'll introduce some new material about Jesus and satire in the video, specifically around Socrates and Aristophanes' "Clouds." So you can get a feel for this, here is the early stage script of the conversation between teacher Ed and Darth Haley, Havanese Hell Hound and Bark Lord Of The Sith: E: So boys and girls, today in "READING BETWEEN THE LINES" we were talking about some of the silly things in the story of Jesus that lets us know the writer is making fun or doing a “parody” of Jesus’s world. Can anyone give some examples? Harley? DH: Sure. Some of the more silly ones are: All the Jewish customs the trial broke, like the nonsense of the high Jewish council ... Read Article
(2/2) Brainwashing and Indoctrination in Culture and Sexuality
I recently did a kiosk article on brainwashing and religion. This talked about something called undo influence or brainwashing with religion that we are born into and/or come to. To more fully explore this, consider the following ancient Greek statues: Images source: https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-ancient-greek-sculptures-small-penises What we learn when we survey ancient Greek art is we see that the Greeks idealized the male form as having a small penis, a sign of youth, intelligence, and self control. By contrast, a large penis was seen as representing uncivilized lack of self-control and barbarism. By contrast, for our culture, a large penis has become the standard to have, and even heterosexual males tend to prefer porn with porn star men that have large penises. Women seem more flexible on the issue, and so even in masturbating a woman might prefer a small pocket rocket to a large dildo. And in fact, there is a niche market for small penis porn. When it comes ... Read Article
Deconstruction and Religious Studies Blogging
What I tried to do with the previous Christian Origins posts was what Nietzsche called spurs or traces, the idea that "a little something" is found whereby if you pull on it enough it can unravel the sweater of the popular interpretation.  For instance, it is generally agreed Mark's crucifixion account is creatively retelling Isaiah and Psalms, so the account of Jesus's passion built out of those scriptures in Mark may be completely fictional.  However, it is still held (with the exception of some Muslim scholars) that it is still historical bedrock that Jesus was crucified, either on earth (via historicists) or in the celestial realm (via mythicists).  What problematizes this fork in the road is that Paul says he understands Christ crucified "according to the scriptures," not simply Isaiah and Psalms as with Mark, but in Galatians as hung on a tree and seen as a curse via Deuteronomy.  This Galatians reference to Deuteronomy should send up a whole army of red flags as to the historical truth of the cru ... Read Article
What I’m Watching
Not getting enough drama from watching Maury or Paternity Court? The world of online Religious Studies is bubbling with Derek Lambert at MythVision Podcast dropping Dr Robert M Price because of what Derek sees as Price's extreme and racist views. Here Derek explains the issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hyUn37oWlU And Price's take on the matter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CimIH0928DY I spent a long time researching and writing about Martin Heidegger, and he had a Nazi period, so I certainly understand the difficulty of dealing with a thinker who people routinely dismiss out of hand without even reading the thinker because of the thinker's extreme views. That said, Heidegger is widely regarded as the greatest continental philosopher of the 20th century. Price's New Testament Narrative As Old Testament Midrash is foundational, and as Alan Avery Peck says The Jewish Annotated New Testament takes the discussion forward in a fruitful manner. It is unfortunate that the two great ... Read Article
Secular Activism: The Burden Of The Message
Are you prepared to tell people who have no justice in this world that they will have no justice in the next world either? The summer after teacher's college, I worked for Community Living taking developmentally and intellectually disabled people to a summer cottage retreat. One of the realest moments of my life was when a camper with Down Syndrome broke down crying because he believed he would never have a girlfriend. Whoever sold us the fairy tale that life was fair? They couldn't, so they sold us the fairy tale that the next life will be fair. I saw the movie Champions today, which was a wonderful uplifting film about aspiring Special Olympics athletes and their quest for success. I highly recommend it! One thing I've learned as a teacher is that success means different things to different people. For a high powered attorney, success may mean arguing a difficult case effectively, whereas for someone with schizophrenia success may mean a successful trip to the grocery store. ... Read Article
[EDITED WITH NEW MATERIAL ADDED] My 2 Favorite New Testament Bible Reading Tips
The ESV translation provides the following helpful chart about Jesus predicting his death in Mark. The Three Major Passion Predictions in Mark Three times in Mark 8–10 Jesus predicts his death, the disciples fail to understand or to respond appropriately, and he then teaches them about discipleship. Announcement of Jesus’ DeathFailure on the Part of the DisciplesJesus Teaches on DiscipleshipJesus will suffer, be rejected, killed, and will rise after three days (8:31)Peter rebukes Jesus (8:32–33)Jesus commands them to deny themselves, take up their cross, and follow him (8:33–9:1)Jesus will be delivered, killed, and will rise after three days (9:30–31)The disciples do not understand the saying and are afraid to ask him about it (9:32)Jesus teaches that the first must be last and that those who receive children in his name receive him (9:33–50)Jesus will be delivered, condemned, mocked, flogged, killed, and will rise after three days (10:33–34)James and John ask that they may s ... Read Article
Happy International Women’s Day!
I thought this International Woman's day would be a good time to think about gender and sexuality. We are all familiar with the current transgender controversy of biological males participating in women's sports. Perhaps a way out of this controversial issue is to have a separate competition category for transgender athletes? On the marriage front, we still very much operate in the ancient legal understanding of one married partner becoming the legal owner of their partner's genitals. A related issue is marriage as ownership. We have over the past few days seen the resurgence of ownership issues with the Taliban making it illegal for women to divorce and so now need to return to an abusive husband. See : In Afghanistan, Taliban Force Divorced Women Back To Abusive Ex Husbands Abused for years by her ex-husband who broke all of her teeth, Marwa has retreated into hiding with her eight children after Taliban commanders tore up her divorce. Article: https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/the-d ... Read Article
John MacDonald BLOG POSTS Christian Origins Index (Secular Frontier)
Scroll down for all my blog posts here at Secular Frontier related to Christian Origins! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jIHF8Xe-O6Y But First, 13 (for a Baker's Dozen 12 Apostles plus Paul) BONUS Posts: Happy Friday the 13th (sort of); or, “God is my Beach!” Psychologizing Jesus Christian Origins: Afterword Easter 2023 Blog Post 3/3: Who Killed Jesus? It’s Holy Saturday, So What Happened To Jesus Between Good Friday And Easter? Jesus and Satire (2/2) Happy Easter: My Favorite Easter Joke Unhooking The Bra Of Mystery Jesus and Satire: A New Darth Harley Video! (2/2) Brainwashing and Indoctrination in Culture and Sexuality Deconstruction and Religious Studies Blogging My 2 Favorite New Testament Bible Reading Tips Secular Activism: The Burden Of The Message My Theory Of Christian Origins: Richard Carrier Reader Response My Internet Infidels/Secular Web Publications are: The Justified Lie By The Johannine Jesus A Critique Of The Pena ... Read Article
[2/2] Deconstructing The Cross Of Christ: Was Jesus Crucified? A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH FOR JESUS AND US
A FATE WORSE THAN DEATH FOR JESUS AND US “The world is about to end (honestly, lol), so you better get right with God and start loving one another …” The previous post that I am now concluding was: Deconstructing The Cross Of Christ: Was Jesus Crucified? (with Dr. James Tabor, Dr. Ali Ataie, Dr Robert M Price, and Neil Godfrey) What does the scriptural coloring by the writers of Jesus’ death tell us about the historical details that we can know about his death? As the team of scholars behind the Jewish Annotated New Testament conclude, it may not be possible to locate historical material behind the heavily theologized Mark death account imitating Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22. This suggests that the central aspects of the religion can be completely derived from the rewriting of Hebrew scriptures. As to the source for the resurrection on the third day, Matthew prooftexts the story of Jonah being swallowed for three days in the big fish. Our earliest source for the crucifixio ... Read Article