Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More On Mythicism And My "Open Letter"

I'm a mythicist: I'm not at all sure whether or not Jesus ever existed.

It has occurred to me that maybe I should've said that at the very beginning of the one post on this blog which has garnered more attention, positive and negative and not a lot in between, than any other: An Open Letter To Michael Paulkovich And Free Inquiry. Maybe I'll edit that post and say it at the beginning, why not. Because many if not most of the people who've responded to that post, in comments on this blog and elsewhere, seem to assume that I take the more popular historicist position: that there certainly was a man named Jesus who came from Nazareth and was crucified by Pilate and inspired the stories in the Gospels.

Why would they assume this? Because I didn't mention my position on Jesus' historicity -- unsure: and anything less than sure he existed is classified as mythicist -- until the very end of the post. And, okay, people don't read everything all the way to the end. An author who puts great care into every word he writes would like to believe that readers hang on every one of those words, but obviously, it ain't always so. That's life in the big city.

Another reason that readers would begin to read that post of mine, which is harshly, sarcastically, angrily, entirely unfairly hostile to a recent publication of the mythicist Michael Paulkovich, and immediately assume they were reading the work of an historicist, is that there is a prominent and active group of mythicists, most of whom do not criticize one another's work. At all. I was by no means the only one who published a strongly negative review of Paulkovich's article, but I may well have been the one and only mythicist who did so. One of the reasons I feel no solidarity with this group is this remarkable lack of criticism of each other.

Another reason is that a lot of their work very badly needs criticism. Paulkovich's article is a particularly extreme example of poorly-done mythicist work. So poor that it angered me, and continues to anger me, that Free Inquiry published it, and that they haven't yet apologized for having published it.

Just today I saw that one of the better-known mythicists -- I don't feel like naming him or linking his blog. -- linked An Open Letter To Michael Paulkovich And Free Inquiry in a blog post of his giving a comprehensive list of mythicists. My name does not appear in that blog post, just the cryptic note at the end of an entry on Paulkovich: "see also Open Letter," with a link.

I don't know whether that mythicist knows that I'm a mythicist. He mentions me from time to time in a manner suggesting either that he does not know it, or that despite knowing it, he feels that I am the enemy because I've been critical of mythicists. Jesus Lord from Above -- as a boss of mine once startlingly shouted, during one of the very few times that very mild-mannered fellow lost his patience -- how is any field of inquiry supposed to progress if the work done in that field is never criticized?! What on Earth is free about that sort of inquiry?!

There's an entirely unrelated post on my blog from some time ago entitled "An Open Letter To Amanda Guterman," in which I plead against further PC restrictions on speech, which has been getting a lot of pageviews lately, and I'm pretty sure that's because people have been searching for "open letter" and found it when they were looking for the Paulkovich letter instead. I feel that the open letter is only my 2nd-best post about Paulkovich's article, after the much more in-depth 126 Writers Who, According To Michael Paulkovich, Should Have Mentioned Jesus If Jesus Existed, but that, too, is life in the big city.

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