Jesus historians get an earful from Maurice Casey

An academic who is ‘not serving the interests of any faith’ derides self-serving portrayals of Christ

Jesus historians get an earful from Maurice Casey

The faithful may delight in Casey’s disdain for the revisionist theory that the virgin birth was cooked up to hide Jesus’s illegitimacy | Christian Heeb/laif/Redux; Sebastian Scheiner/AP

Maurice Casey is fed up. The emeritus professor of New Testament language and literature at Britain’s University of Nottingham—a scholar, that is, of the only sources we have for the life and times of Jesus Christ—knows that history is not done in his field like it is in any other. The stakes, and the passions, are simply too high, when those who study the central figure in Western history place him along a spectrum that ranges from God incarnate to mythic creation. What truly disturbs Casey, however, is the way the once vast middle ground in historical Jesus studies is being squeezed, just as it is in many aspects of the increasingly intense faceoff between religion and secularism in modern society.

A resurgence of conservative scholarship on one side, including historians (like Paul Johnson) who accept what Casey considers unbelievable miracles detailed in untrustworthy sources, and revisionism that stretches to outright denial of Jesus’s existence on the other, have led him to pen his own take, Jesus of Nazareth: An Independent Historian’s Account of His Life and Teaching. It’s less a full-blown biography than a vigorous defence of historical methodology—of the moral necessity of applying the same historical standards to the study of Jesus as we apply to, say, Julius Caesar. Casey’s magnum opus offers, for those who accept his reasoning, an impressive array of facts about Jesus Christ, and a slashing attack on almost everyone to the left or right of him.

It’s that self-identified “independent” in Casey’s subtitle that provides one of the two keys to his approach. Casey, 68, who once set out to complete a doctorate in theology en route to becoming an ordained Anglican clergyman, has not been a Christian since 1962. “So I’m not serving the interests of any faith,” he says in an interview. “But at the same time I’m not serving any anti-religious group either. I didn’t join the Humanist Society when I left the church, because even then I thought it too anti-religious. Some of the best people I know are religious.” He believes that he can (“I do my best”) follow the evidence where it leads, something he says the great majority of New Testament scholars simply cannot do. Most are Christians who are incapable, consciously or otherwise, of absorbing the essential Jewishness of Jesus. Their scholarship blends seamlessly into what Casey calls their social function, their duty to create portrayals of Jesus that serve the needs of their religious communities.

This impulse leads the traditionalists among them, whether orthodox Catholics or fundamentalist Protestants—including Pope Benedict XVI, whose 2007 biography of Jesus Casey calls a “regrettable work”—to accept as historically valid such sources as the Gospel of John, which presents Jesus as fully divine, capable of walking on water and raising the dead, and virtually a Gentile, embroiled in constant tensions, not with scribes and Pharisees, but with “the Jews.” Since Casey does not believe in Christ’s divinity, that is an utterly impossible portrayal of the Torah-observant Jewish prophet he does consider Jesus to have been. The traditionalists’ liberal Protestant counterparts, like the members of the Jesus Seminar—key players in “the appalling quality of American debates about Jesus”—are no better, in Casey’s opinion. They too end up with a Jesus they are happy with, usually some kind of cynic philosopher—that is to say, just as non-Jewish as the conservatives’ figure—also by mining documents of no historical value, including Gospels ascribed to the Apostle Thomas or Mary Magdalene.

The so-called mythicists, for whom Casey reserves an especial, if formally polite, contempt—his discussion is studded with terms like “most proponents are extraordinarily incompetent” and “a form of atheist prejudice”—also find the Jesus they want, a non-existent mythical figurehead for a new religion. Mostly former fundamentalists, in Casey’s waspish summation, the mythicists reject everything, a reaction to traditional Christian claims so extreme as to make Dan Brown’s image of a married-with-kids Jesus seem almost pious. (Not that Casey has any time for The Da Vinci Code: “such nonsense that it is quite amazing that anyone should believe it.”)

Among the best sections of Jesus of Nazareth in which to see Casey’s claymore in operation, whaling away on all sides, is in his discussion of Jesus’s origins. Christians, especially at Christmas, won’t appreciate his dismissal of the virgin birth. For him, as for all secular historians, the descriptions in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (but not in the Gospel of Mark or the Epistles of St. Paul) are the sort of entertaining stories that grow up around any towering figure, and all the more to be expected as Christianity expanded into a Gentile world accustomed to divine-origin stories about its heroes.

But the faithful may delight in his deeper disdain for the revisionist theory that the virgin birth was cooked up by early Christians to hide Jesus’s illegitimacy. (This is spun from Gospel references to Jesus as “son of Mary,” indicating his father, Joseph, was no longer around—he had died, say the faithful, while revisionists suggest he had left Mary, after he found she was pregnant by a Roman soldier. Since rumour had it that there was something unusual about Jesus’s origins, his disciples spread the virgin birth story.) But Casey easily shows, by dating the texts that relay either the son-of-God or son-of-a-soldier stories, that the latter claim is the newer. Thus the virgin birth was not crafted as a cover-up of illegitimacy: the accusation of bastardy was a Jewish polemical response to the very un-Jewish claim that the one true God had fathered a human son. As for feminist theologian Jane Schaberg’s later gloss on the Roman legionary theory—that Mary was not seduced but raped—it’s almost possible to hear Casey gritting his teeth as he answers her. Since there is no support for this idea in Jewish polemics, let alone in Scripture, “Schaberg is reduced to claiming, ‘It is necessary to read the silence’ in Matthew. There is no excuse for reading into the text what is not there.”

When he’s through eviscerating everyone and everything wrong with his field, Casey turns to the second, and more positive, pillar of his approach. He does respect “the text,” his Scriptural sources, and one mark of that respect is that he applies to them linguistic skills he thinks shamefully lacking in his colleagues. Jesus, his family, his disciples—his entire world—spoke Aramaic, while the New Testament was written in Greek. And therein lies a huge problem. Separating later and less trustworthy material from older, more plausible writing is greatly helped by teasing out the Aramaic originals behind Greek Gospel accounts. For centuries this was almost impossible, because there wasn’t enough Aramaic writing, especially idiomatic writing, available. “Before the Dead Sea Scrolls were found after the war, you just couldn’t do it,” Casey says. “And though most are in Hebrew, the Aramaic scrolls—the Book of Enoch for one—are written in a more popular style, full of stories and idioms.”

Now it’s possible to see how close to the surface Aramaic originals are in the oldest Gospel, Mark, the work of an unknown, educated but not particularly polished, and manifestly bilingual evangelist. In one telling example, Casey points out how the oldest manuscript versions have a puzzling opening to the story of a paralytic (Mark 1:41): “And being angry,” Jesus stretched out his hand and healed the man with a touch. Matthew (8:3) and Luke (5:13) offer the same story, in mostly the same words—that is, they took it from Mark—except they drop the opening because it made no sense. Jesus had no reason to be angry, or if he were, no reason to proceed with the healing. For Casey, though, Mark was simply translating from an Aramaic source and was in the grip of what the scholar calls interference, which affects all bilinguals when they translate. The original Aramaic word used was surely regaz, which can indeed mean “tremble with anger,” as does the Greek word Mark put in its place, orgistheis. But the latter only means angry, and does not carry the wider meaning of regaz, which stretches to include “moved [to sympathy].” In Mark’s mind, Casey argues, because the two words shared one meaning, they shared them all.

With numerous examples of the same sort of thing, Casey makes a compelling case that Mark’s Aramaic underlay makes it both old and genuine in its storytelling: “one short step away from eyewitness testimony.” And since Casey, true to his standards of historical methodology, asserts that there has to be good reason for rejecting authentic material, he pays close attention—neither accepting in faith as the divinely inspired word of Scripture nor rejecting as physically impossible—to Mark’s almost eyewitness accounts of miracles (which in his Gospel are far more muted than in John’s, mostly healings and exorcisms) and the Scriptural accounts of visions of the risen Christ after Jesus’s death. “I’ve done quite a lot of reading in the anthropology of medicine and in the history of psychosomatic illnesses,” Casey says. “There are very well-attested accounts after the First World War of doctors curing, by words, cases of hysterical blindness prompted by mustard gas attacks. A charismatic prophet could do it.” Similarly, Casey has investigated the widespread phenomenon of bereavement visions, when grief-stricken survivors have seen their dead loved ones appear to them.

In the end, a lifetime of weighing historical issues leads Casey to accept as fact much that the Gospels proclaim—a remarkable amount, in fact, for a non-Christian. Jesus was born about 4 BCE, and grew up in Nazareth; he was baptized by John the Baptist and called disciples of his own, appointing 12 of them as special apostles; he preached repentance, forgiveness and the coming of the kingdom of God in rural and small-town Galilee; his charismatic authority brought healing to many victims of psychosomatic illnesses, including the paralyzed, the blind and people with skin diseases; about 30 CE he went to Jerusalem, where the disturbance he caused chasing moneylenders out of the Temple led to his arrest and crucifixion by Pontius Pilate. After his death, Jesus was seen, in non-physical form, by some followers, including his brother James, in authentic bereavement experiences, while stories of the empty tomb and of his physical resurrection grew up afterwards to explain the visions inspired by raw grief.

“I have not made any attempt to fit [this portrayal] into the picture of Jesus required by any social subgroup, whether Christian, Jewish or atheist.” An appropriate summation from Casey, since it’s beyond doubtful that any one group would or could accept all his positions. But in his honest attempt to follow the sources, rather than an ideology, Casey has made a valiant effort to put the runaway train of historic Jesus studies back on the rails.




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Jesus historians get an earful from Maurice Casey

  1. At some point, over the course of plant evolution, two innovations occured, the monocots and dicots. These plant groupings, while sharing commonalities, have different characteristics. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying one is "better" or "superior" to the other, only that, in their character, they are different. Both stem (sic) from a common ancestor, so, it is impossible to deny the fundamental "plantness" of their nature. What should most be taken to heart is that a metamophisis happened that started two different families of plants that are both not like what was there before.

    • what the hell are you talking about!

      • Ch'an K'ang asked Po-yu, saying, "Have you heard any lessons from
        your father different from what we have all heard?"
        Po-yu replied, "No. He was standing alone once, when I passed
        below the hall with hasty steps, and said to me, 'Have you learned the
        Odes?' On my replying 'Not yet,' he added, If you do not learn the
        Odes, you will not be fit to converse with.' I retired and studied the
        Odes.
        "Another day, he was in the same way standing alone, when I passed
        by below the hall with hasty steps, and said to me, 'Have you
        learned the rules of Propriety?' On my replying 'Not yet,' he added,
        'If you do not learn the rules of Propriety, your character cannot
        be established.' I then retired, and learned the rules of Propriety.
        "I have heard only these two things from him."

  2. Check out a guy that has done a good deal of work talking about a number of flaws in caseys argument and approach; http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/12/15/open-invit… his stuff is worth reading. Not just on Casey, but on things he points out about the study of early Christian history study.

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  3. Maurice Casey has done a super job in his book, reading Aramaic texts that nobody has seen, including himself, and that the authors of the Gospels could not read very well, despite having them in front of them.

    Maurice Casey has also done a superb job in demonstrating that the ministry of Jesus was financed by relatively well off women, who helped with practical matters, and also demonstrating that the disciples were so poor that they had to scrabble for raw grain to eat in fields.

    Maurice Casey is a world-renowned expert on reconstructing the Aramaic originals of Greek translations, even though it is impossible to obtain the name of one Greek translation of an Aramaic document where Casey has managed to reconstruct the Aramaic original.

  4. 'Jesus was born about 4 BCE,….'

    Really?

    There are lots of stories about President Obama being born in Kenya.

    These stories were written with an agenda, contradict each other and contain historical contradictions.

    Nevertheless, a guess an Independent Scholar like Casey can take the stories of President Obama being born in Kenya, and use them to decide when Obama was born.

    Who needs true stories when you are an independent scholar? Fictional stories will do just as well.

  5. If 'Mark' is based on Aramaic sources, this is no more evidence of its being authentic than the fact that the Hitler Diaries were written in German made them authentic, even though German was the actual language that Hitler and his associates spoke.

    What Casey needs are primary sources, and he has no source from the first century which names himself as ever having seen or heard of Judas, Thomas, Mary Magdalene, Bartimaeus, Barabbas, Nicodemus, Jairus, Simon of Cyrene, Joanna, Salome etc.

    Not one primary source….

  6. All we have is the New Testament. From there, what parts we accept and don't accept is pretty much a matter of argument and opinion. It's pretty hard to prove that one methodology of interpretation supercedes another. Casey sounds like he's pretty good at what he does, but ultimately its just another good try among many.

    • 'From there, what parts we accept and don't accept is pretty much a matter of argument and opinion.'

      So no evidence then? No actual people who named themselves as ever having heard of Judas?

      Casey not only has the New Testament, he also has Aramaic wax tablets that nobody else can see, but which he can read better than the people who translated them for their Gospels, who were handicapped by being bilingual in Aramaic and Greek. Casey reminds us that many such bilingual people are 'not fully competent', while he can translate Aramaic documents he has not even seen.

      • We have evidence – it's our New Testament. We just can't agree on how good it is, or what exactly it does prove.

    • "All we have is the New Testament."

      Not exactly. There are also non-scriptural writings which help to nail down timelines (like the 4 BCE estimate, Steve) and corroborate some of the other events described. The ability to make such cross-references adds weight to the validity of the scriptures themselves.

      • There are absolutely zero non-scriptural writings of any value which nail down a 4BCE estimate for the date of birth of Jesus, just like there are no reliable accounts of President Obama being born in Kenya.

        There are not even any Christians in the first century who name themselves as having heard of Judas, Thomas, Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, Joseph of Arimathea etc etc

  7. NOW it feels like Christmas!

  8. Nazareth was not established as a city until 30 AD. How could Jesus have been from there? This guy is still trying to prove the existence of an individual to whom there is no reference in any historical documents other than the bible. It's like trying to prove Tinker Bell exists vis a vie a Disney Movie.

  9. No one has the slightest physical evidence to support a historical Jesus; no artifacts, dwelling, works of carpentry, or self-written manuscripts. All claims about Jesus derive from writings of other people. There occurs no contemporary Roman record that shows Pontius Pilate executing a man named Jesus. Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus. All documents about Jesus came well after the life of the alleged Jesus from either: unknown authors, people who had never met an earthly Jesus, or from fraudulent, mythical or allegorical writings.

    • 'Devastating to historians, there occurs not a single contemporary writing that mentions Jesus'

      More importantly, even Christians writing to each other never name themselves as ever having heard of Judas, Barabbas, Laarus, Bartimaeus, Mary Magdalene, Thomas, Simon of Cyrene, Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, Jairus etc.

      These people are as badly attested as the second gunman who shot JFK or the members of the Bush Administration who planned 9/11…

      And all Casey has is a claim that 'Mark' might have had an Aramaic source – a claim as obviously fallacious as a claim that the Hitler Diaries must be authentic simply because they were written in German.

    • Hi, Gary,
      Wayne Jackson an editor and writer for the Christian Courier wrote against the claim that Jesus is a myth by showing clearly that there are sources of Jewish and Roman origin that prove that Jesus existed. His article "False Ideas about Jesus Christ " is worth looking up.
      We have the writings of the apostles Peter , John, Matthew who saw Jesus face to face. They tell the truth, otherwise they would have not risked their life for the truth. Peter wrote in his second letter wrote: "For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses
      of His majesty."
      Lastly , it must be difficult for you to find the truth because Jesus said that there will be false teachers and prophets who claim to tell you the truth. I advise you if you are looking for the truth,read the Gospels and pray for God to guide you to the truth. He will because He does not want you to stay in the "dark". God loves you
      Merry Christmas and Happy New year
      God bless you
      Freddy Heynssens from Toronto

      • Hi Freddy,
        * Peter 1: Although attributed to Peter, it is widely doubted by most scholars, on the basis of the fact that the author of this book cites Greek translations of the Old Testament, instead of the Hebrew originals. This questionable book contains the fundamentalists' slogan, "born again" (1 Peter 1:23)
        * Peter 2: This book has even more doubtful authorship that Peter 1, so much so that it was delayed entrance into the New Testament's canon. It is generally believed that it was written by an unknown scribe around 150 AD.
        Therefore if The Books of Peter were written as late of around 150 AD, then Peter would be around 180 yrs at that time.
        The Jewish and Roman sources have been soundly discounted . There is no proof that historical Jesus existed. What does exist is hearsay evidence of the worst quality .

        • The historical standard y ou apply when testing Jesus' existence go beyond that of which it is reasonable to apply. Then again, with due respect, that is why Casey, well emersed in Aramaic and Greek, is a far more credible analyzer of the historicity of Jesus than either you or I. The reality is is that you desperately do not want there to be historical evidence for Jesus because you feel it justifies your previously held anti-religious bias. This destroys your ability to make reasoned scholarship on this matter.

          The major authorities on the matter of Jesus and his historicity are in near unananimous conviction that indeed he did exist. When you are not an expert on something, sometimes it is best to look to the authorities rather than hold on to opinions causated by emotional convictions. If there need be any proof of this emotional link to your convictions and that of other "secularists" (a term with very little meaning: it in essence means the transfer of ecclesiastic property and goods to the laity and is supported in the Treaty of Westphalia and Canon Law) look at the "ups" and "downs" written on your comments and than Freddy's. Pure emotional response to a book than deep down fightens you.

        • I also request sources to the information you replied because I have studied this issue and have read radically different things. Remember: study the historian before you study his history.
          Respect.

      • Hold your noise. It's irrelevant, and only serves to get in the way of nuts-and-bolts "who, what, where" history.

        No worthwhile answers on Jesus-the-man will come from believers, at least not those unable to "switch off:" they've got too much invested in the subject.

  10. BELIFVE IN TRUE FAITH AND IF YOU DO NOT UNDERSTAND YOUR TRUE FAITH GO TALK TO A PROFESSIONALYOUR TRUE FAITH IS NOT A LIE !!!! DO NOT GIVE UP GET THE TRUTH ITS YOUR RIGHT AS A HUMAN IN SOCIETY AND LIFE!!!!

    • Anger management issues ? I assume the bold type is for emphasis and your difficulty grasping the unpalatable truth every Christian should face. Historical Jesus is a fiction or construct fabricated under the tutelage of emperor Constantine to use as a method of controlling the population. It worked well for him and has been exploited by others ever since. Bush when he invaded Iraq said he was on a mission from God. Hitler stated that he was doing God's will when he murdered the Jews.

      • Can you provide a reference for Hitler's claim to be doing God's will?

        • "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

          Adolf Hitler – Mein Kampf

        • Hitler described his supposedly divine mandate for his anti-Semitism: "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord." see Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Ralph Mannheim, ed., New York: Mariner Books, 1999, p. 65.

          • Thanks to both of you.

    • YOUR CAPS LOCK IS STUCK!!!

  11. Sometime when I was in (I think) high school, there was a discussion (that must have been authentic because I saw it on TV!) about the Virgin Mary being asimple linguistic confusion in translating the word "young." Now I am getting "no evidence she was raped by a soldier." Has not-virgin-just-young disappeared from scholarship about JC? Was it ever there?

    • You are correct about the question of "young woman" vs. "virgin".

      Matthew takes a verse out of the old testament, (Isaiah 7:14 -"A virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel"), and tries to apply it to Jesus when it has nothing to do with him . You can read the story in Isaiah to get the context.

      Hebrew has a specific word, "betulah", for a virgin, and a more general word, "almah", for a young woman. Almah is the word used in Isaiah, and the author of Isaiah knew the difference, as he uses betulah later on.

  12. “I have not made any attempt to fit [this portrayal] into the picture of Jesus required by any social subgroup, whether Christian, Jewish or atheist.”

    Atheist? I can understand the subgroups of Christian or Jewish because certainly they have very specific ideas about the figure of Jesus. But why put Atheist there? Any given Atheist could have ANY view of whom Jesus may or may not have been. Including that he might not have been altogether.( http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/home.htm.) I do appreciate Casey's candor though.

  13. if casey could give me a contact number i could explain to casey what he is talking about and what he would like to know if he is who he says he is a scholar and i understand what casey is talking about and it is truth to what he saying it would be worth his time for what i am asking.

  14. I'm just a lowly accountant and not in the league of intellectuals who've studied such lofty matters. But it seems to me that our minds evolved to understand the how of things but not the why. Maybe some people, like Jesus or Buddha or Moses, were special in that their minds were capable of understanding the why of existence ie their neural wiring was different and they possessed unique intellectual capacities. Maybe the difficulty for them was in conveying ideas and in using language the rest of us were capable of understanding kind of like someone who can see in colour in a world of colour blind people. So maybe today as a result, our written records, like the gospels, are garbled, contradictory, fantastical accounts based on stories recounted by the uncomprehending.

    • I am indeed uncomprehending at many of the stories reported about Jesus. Why is it bad to be like a virgin who does not have enough oil? When is everybody going to be salted with fire? Why is it important to put oil on your head when you fast, so that people do not know you are fasting?

      How did the Gospel writers know that a herd of pigs had been possessed by demons? What are the symptoms in the average possessed porker?

      These are deep mysteries.

      • Yes, deep mysteries. The thing about the truly ignorant is that they are unaware of their own ignorance.

  15. we don't have the accounts of Peter, John and Matthew,

    Even if 1 Peter was genuine, it says almost nothing about Jesus, other than what the author had worked out by reading the Old Testament.

  16. Has anyone ever read Josephus, the Jewish Historian? In his writings one finds numerous references to the historical Jesus. It is not a fiction, at least, not in the sense that we can dismiss Josephus as a Christian with an axe to grind about Jesus. He was very much a Jewish scholar. Hope that helps the curious about the historical background regarding Jesus.

    • "Has anyone ever read Josephus, the Jewish Historian? "

      Yes, actually. Josephus was a Jewish writer in Rome whose patrons were Roman Gentiles. He wrote for them a history of the Jews, which is filled with factual and date errors and is contradicted by other contemporary sources. Indeed, much of his reference to the early Jesus sect is actually about Jesus's brother James — again written from a comfortable distance in Rome.

      Moreover, Josephus wrote 60+ years after the alleged death of Jesus. This is also the date period for Mark and Matthew's Gospels, which are again not contemporary to Jesus and are not viewed as historical sources. Josephus is cited in other writings from the 4th century AD. However, the only copies we have of his own writing, Antiquities of the Jews, are themselves copies and translations made by Christian scribes some 1,000 years later in the 11th Century.

      So in Josephus we have a Jewish man trying to make it ahead in Rome, writing things that happened a bit before his time in another land for Gentile patrons in Rome and which we know about, largely, because of copies made 1,000 years later by Christian scribes.

      Josephus is not a credible historical source, nor an original one.

  17. Great, now let's see scholars tackle the historical Mohammed.

    • Yeah – right! If they don't mind risking their neck!

    • I assume this is meant to be sarcastic, but do you actually think there are no scholars researching Mohammed?

  18. My imaginary space Santa is better than your imaginary space Santa.

  19. Great to see Religious Studies getting some press! Thanks for the article!

    (And for those who don't know, Religious Studies is an academic discipline. I know there're lots of articles out there about books on religion. Those are different.)

  20. Funny thing , the more educated people become the less and less they believe in bronze age myths invented by nomadic desert tribesmen. If you have a moment please listen to " Imagine" by John Lennon . Unfortunately Lennon was gunned down by a born again who did not share Lennon's position on the irrelevance of religion.

    • You are a true idiot. "Born again" had nothing to do with Lennon's death.

  21. if you want to know it is written in the HOLY BIBLE||||

  22. AND I DO KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT I HAVE READ IT.

    • dipstick!!

    • Biblical inerrancy has been criticized on the grounds that many statements, including, but not exclusively, history or science that are found in Scripture, if taken literally, rather than phenomenologically, are untenable or contradictory. Inerrancy is argued to be a falsifiable proposition: if the Bible is found to contain any mistakes or contradictions, the proposition of strict inerrancy has been refuted.

      “Properly read, the Bible is the most potent force for atheism ever conceived.”

      - Isaac Asimov

    • if you are so sure, why do you have to scream in caps??? perhaps it's because your argument is intellectually bankrupt and the only defense you have is by shouting over everyone else. if this were a town hall meeting you would be trying to do just that. go home little girl/man..wantever you are

  23. "AND I DO KNOW WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT I HAVE READ IT."

    This comment represents to me all that is frustrating with trying to debate religion with religious zealots. Just because you read a book, you think it makes you an authority on the subject, and you think you have more authority than a person who has obviously read more than you and has intimate knowledge of the same book you have read.

    Your comment reminds me of the immortal words of Hawkeye Pierce when speaking to Frank Burns:

    " I read you loud and clear, Frank – like a comic book!"

  24. The New Testament contains written explanations of the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, his life and teaching and the evangelization and teaching of His first followers including many who knew him personally. Knowing Him personally did not remove but indeed intensified His mysterious nature. The gospel writers make an effort to tell others about this person who it seemed was both God and man.

    Maurice Casey has discredited these messengers. He refuses to be caught up in the mystery and instead focused a life time of work on Mark, one of the messengers, rather than the message.

    In Mark 2:1-12 Jesus, forgiving as an assertion against the respectables present, followed by the healing and the turmoil of anger and wonder, are surely full of mystery. It is missing the point to focus on the story teller rather than the fascinating person, Jesus of Nazareth. He claims to forgive our sins and I certainly appreciate that. In the story some claim, “It is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” How does Maurice Casey handle the issue of personal sin and forgiveness?

  25. Your long-windedness is not impressive. I'll stick by my original assessment.

  26. My bible has capital letters and periods.

  27. you should join the taliban..you would be comfortable there…until they cut your head off…cheers

  28. As a Christian, I respectfully ask that you stop commenting on this article. You're perpetuating the stereotype that all Christians are ignorant by making foolish arguments. This scholar has looked at the Bible – that's one of his sources. He isn't discounting the bible by any means.

    Stop trying to force your beliefs on others, and leave this as an intellectual debate.

  29. An excellent book !!!. Finally!! A scholar who puts the person Jesus in his proper HISTORICAL context (without deriding all the subsequent theological layers which I may add caused untold sufferings ) using the most rational tools available to date. I tip my hat to you sir. This oeuvre is long overdue.

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