Robert McNair Price is a Professor of Theology and Scriptural
Studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary in Miami Gardens,
Florida. He is the author of many books and articles on religion
and has also written about H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos.
hosts a weekly call-in webcast, The Bible Geek, in which he answers
a wide range of questions pertaining to religion. He appeared
in Brian Flemming's documentary film The God Who Wasn't There
do not expect that the mere fact that I was once an evangelical
apologist and now see things differently should itself count as
evidence that I must be right. That would be the genetic fallacy.
It would be just as erroneous to think that John Rankin must be
right in having embraced evangelical Christianity since he had
once been an agnostic Unitarian and repudiated it for the Christian
by the way, simply means "choice." It came to mean "thoughtcrime,"
implying it was blasphemy to presume to choose your own belief
instead of swallowing what the bishops spoonfed you.'
broad outline and in detail, the life of Jesus as portrayed in
the gospels corresponds to the worldwide Mythic Hero Archetype
in which a divine hero's birth is supernaturally predicted and
conceived, the infant hero escapes attempts to kill him, demonstrates
his precocious wisdom already as a child, receives a divine commission,
defeats demons, wins acclaim, is hailed as king, then betrayed,
losing popular favor, executed, often on a hilltop, and is vindicated
and taken up to heaven."
the "historical Jesus" reconstructed by New Testament
scholars is always a reflection of the individual scholars who
reconstruct him. Albert Schweitzer was perhaps the single exception,
and he made it painfully clear that previous questers for the
historical Jesus had merely drawn self-portraits. All unconsciously
used the historical Jesus as a ventriloquist dummy. Jesus must
have taught the truth, and their own beliefs must have been true,
so Jesus must have taught those beliefs. (Of course, every biblicist
does the same! "I said it! God believes it! That settles
it!"). Today's Politically Correct "historical Jesuses"
are no different, being mere clones of the scholars who design
wonder how appropriate it is to try to "argue someone into
the "kingdom." Many apologists hotly deny any such charge,
but I don't believe them. The tenor of almost all apologetics
literature makes it plain that this is their intent."
very admission of the need to harmonize is an admission that the
burden of proof is on the narratives, not on those who doubt them.
What harmonizing shows is that despite appearances, the texts
still might be true."
when we compare two versions of a story, the second known to be
a retelling of the first, and find that the second has more of
a miraculous element, we may reasonably conclude we have legendary
(or midrashic or whatever) embellishment. The tale has grown in
the telling. This sort of comparison is common in extrabiblical
research and no one holds that it cannot properly indicate legend