Tuesday 27 March 2012

I'm Gonna Rot in Hell For This...

   I'm sorry. No. I'm not. This is scholarship? Craig A. Evans is the Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada [my home and native land]. This just in....dit de dit de dit di doo doo...[that was supposed to be Morse code, harking back to the days of the Pony Express and canal boats, which is where this ridiculous article belongs]. The headline reads
The Archaeological Evidence For Jesus (PHOTOS)
...claims that there never was a historical Jesus fly in the face of common sense and more than sufficient evidence.
As I approached the text of this article, I was guessing that there'll be some less than sufficient evidence referred to in this sensational piece of proselytizing. And, guess what. Nada. And it's a durned shame, too. I was looking forward to those photos!
     Obviously Dr. Evans is no archaeologist. He's also no rocket scientist, either. Apparently, finding evidence of the sorts of things and people referred to in the New Testament is sufficient to prove the existence of god--or, at least, of god's presumed chimeric son.
     The good Dr. Evans begins by laying out the epistemological underpinnings of his claims. 'I begin by explaining what archaeology is...' he says, 'the excavation and study of the remains of material culture.' Well. Whaddayaknow? Kinda convinces me of what we've always suspected, but were afraid to speak of. Biblical archaeologists aren't archaeologists at all--they're puffed up antiquarians and art historians with an axe to grind. They wouldn't know an archaeological inference if it flew right up to them in a blinding light and proclaimed the second coming of Lew Binford. 
     It's really hard to keep a straight face. Listen to this:
[archaeology] means correlating what we discover with relevant written records (such as the writings of the New Testament and the writings of Josephus, the first-century Jewish historian). It often means applying space-age technologies. It is hard work and it is very rewarding.
This sounds more to me like George W. Bush on the vicissitudes of being POTUS than an archaeologist opining on the empirical basis for the knowledge created from archaeological traces. To paraphrase: we find stuff, and it's just like the stuff they wrote about in the New Testament. That proves it's true!
     You really have to read this to believe it. Er. To find out how a real biblical scholar thinks. Land o' Goshen! They had buildings and tombs back then! Jesus is real. They had religious leaders! Jesus is real. Give me a break.
     What's that rumbling?


  1. Rob,

    I think you are making a fundamental error in confusing evidence that Jesus existed and evidence that claims about Jesus as the Son of God ...etc are true. It is possible that Jesus existed and he wasn't the Son of God.

    Given the paucity of historical evidence about any particular individual at that time there is a large amount of evidence that Jesus existed not only from the Christian writings but from Josephus (although the reference to Jesus is short.

    As well we all should know archaeology is poor at locating individuals unless by some chance of preservation has created a deposit that can be linked firmly to a person. I have often tried to explain this to my fellow Christians that archaeology is not going to "find" Jesus.

    Archaeological claims to have found Jesus and somehow "proved" the NT right should be immediately treated with scepticism.

    Whether Jesus was the son of God and the claims about his in the NT are IMHO a matter for faith and cannot be proved by archaeology. Archaeology could elaborate on the life of people at the time of Jesus (not sure what century that would be in)and provide context for the society documented in the NT but it wont find the True Cross.

  2. Hey, Iain,
    You're absolutely right in most of what you say. However, I do appreciate the difference between Jesus, the man, and the possibility of his having existed, on the one hand, and the Christ that is the foundation of the faith, on the other. My main purpose was to point up the fallacious, and ultimately ridiculous line of so-called reasoning that the author was employing. It was not my intention to question the existence of Jesus the man or the Christ [even if in fact I do]--I was merely questioning what whatsisname was touting as evidence that Jesus was a real person. That's a big difference. Therefore, as much as I agree in principle with most of what you've said I can't agree that I made any fundamental error in what I blurted. No worries. On to the next subject of my scorn


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