Review of Maurice Casey on the Jesus myth

Professor Maurice Casey (1942-2014) published the book Jesus. Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths (2014). There is a 2012 excerpt from the book. My review can be found here.

My advice is not to buy the book. It is unbalanced and misdirected. Still, it is an issue how the academia and the general public on the internet deal with each other. Hence I advise the publisher and Casey’s family to make the book available as a PDF on the internet. Allow everyone to check that it is unbalanced and misdirected. Let the academia and the writers on the internet learn from this, and find a way to improve the situation on both sides.

The summary of the review is as follows:

Professor Casey’s book opposes the historical evidence for Jesus with the mythical origin of the story. Historicism is generally accepted in academic New Testament Studies, mythicism is often adhered to by non-scholars on the internet. The review uses the analogy of Santa Claus to bring forth a point that may have been missed by both professor Casey and the mythicists who he wishes to expose. For Santa Claus there is the historical bishop Nicolas of Myra (Turkey) but it would be inaccurate to call him the “historical Santa Claus” since the origin of the story is rather the neolithical myth of the Norse god Wodan who rides the sky on the back of his horse Sleipnir. The Church imposed the story of Nicolas on the ancient myth in order to control the heresy. If the historical Jesus was a mere man, he couldn’t have walked on water or risen from death, and the story of the resurrection reminds of many similary mythical stories from prehistoric times. For Jesus the religious meaning and the resurrection are the defining issue, for otherwise why tell the story from generation to generation ? If there was a historical preacher, healer and exorcist who got associated with already existing ancient myths of resurrection, then it becomes awkward to speak about a historical Jesus, just like with the “historical Santa Claus”, because such historical Jesus is at distance from what defines him for the story that people consider relevant to relate. The review looks into the historical method, Crossley’s & Casey’s dating of Mark to 40 CE, the value of evidence of the Aramaic language, and some aspects of professor Casey’s rejection of the mythical argument. The review is by an outsider of ancient history and New Testament Studies, as the author is an econometrician and teacher of mathematics. His interest is his proposal for a development of a multidisciplinary course on Jesus and the origin of Christianity, explained in his book The simple mathematics of Jesus (2012).

 Let me supply these links too:

  1. The book The simple mathematics of Jesus  (SMOJ)(December 2012).
  2. A weblog entry on Santa Claus / Kidda Claus.
  3. A weblog entry on the historical method.
  4. The weblog entry Crucifiction (August 2012). This was written before SMOJ. In August 2012 I considered the issue as writer of Science Fiction, reading the books by Paul Verhoeven and Lena Einhorn. My reli-fiction left me unsatisfied and caused me to look closer at my notes and approach the issue systematically from the angle of teacher of mathematics, which became SMOJ (December 2012). The fiction entry has various points that may now confuse though it still highlights questions. For example, the SF writer suggests in August (within the framework of Einhorn’s book that Paul = Jesus) that Paul dictated his memories of his life as Jesus to Luke. The math teacher in December 2012 in SMOJ tends to follow official scholarship that Luke would be based upon Mark. SMOJ however still spends two pages on Einhorn, check her page. Note that she has not elaborated on the idea that Paul = Jesus, but has further developed the idea of a time shift. That is, the NT seems to put events consistently 15-20 years before the dates in Josephus, likely to cover up the role in the uprising that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. See this great paper by her. Note also that Josephus does not mention the name of the Egyptian, which is strange, and might indicate that he knew him. Since the Egyptian speaks about bringing down the walls of Jerusalem, this reminds of Joshua and Jericho, and of course Joshua is Jewish for Jesus. Ah, the SF writer knocks on the door again. Anyhow, given the emphasis that I want to put on SMOJ thus better beware of that text in Crucifiction. Still, now that I have read Casey (2014), the division between on the one hand Jesus on the Jewish Law with the 12 apostles and on the other hand the Pauline interpretation, that it is sufficient to just believe in Christ as the Son of God who redeemed our Sins, is striking again. Perhaps the Church doesn’t believe in the message of the original Jesus.

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