Saturday, September 23, 2017

More Paulkovich Yet Again

Michael Paulkovich has published a new edition of his book No Meek Messiah. Actually, it appears that the new edition came out some time ago, and I didn't notice, in part because the new edition or editions -- I'm not sure how many editions there have been altogether -- has or have a completely different title: Beyond the Crusades. According to the publisher of the new version, American Atheist Press,

"It includes an exhaustively researched 19-page appendix that provides
citations for the controversial 126 'Silent Historians' of Chapter 49
and serves to rebut critics who erroneously claimed that some of the
writers on the list were not applicable or even pre-Jesus."

Well. I guess that shuts me up, once and for all. Seriously, though, I'm torn between a morbid curiosity on the one hand about just how Paulkovich has doubled down here, and on the other hand, profound, cringing embarrassment for him.

Does the change in title make sense? I have no way of knowing: I haven't read the book in any of its editions. I haven't read the article which was excerpted from it in Skeptical Inquiry either. Paulkovich has accused me of not reading that article, and he may have accused me of not having read his book either. In either case he would be correct. All I have addressed is Paulkovich's list of 126 names of people he calls "the silent historians," 126 people who, he claims, should have been expected to have mentioned Jesus if He had existed.

There are very many good books in the world, far more than any one person could ever hope to read. I have to have some incentive to read any particular book. Sometimes a page is enough to convince me that a certain book is not for me. In the case of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, one sentence was enough. In the case of No Meek Messiah and/or Beyond the Crusades, those 126 names were much more than enough. And I have tried to make the case that they ought to be enough to convince any reasonable person that Paulkovich is talking -- through his hat, as people used to say in quainter times. I have tried, and I have been very disappointed to have to come to the conclusion that most people who care a bit one way about Paulkovich either already knew what I was talking about -- just a few cases, these. Academics in one of the "relevant fields," mostly -- or they wouldn't really investigate the list of 126 names at all, trying to find out who, Paulkovich or I or perhaps neither, knew what he was talking about when referring to those 126 people, but were quite content to assume that Paulkovich was full of it if they were convinced that Jesus existed, or that I was full of it if they had their doubts that Jesus ever existed.

More nuanced positions, such as having doubts that Jesus existed but still thinking that Paulkovich was full of it, or being certain that Jesus existed but still thinking that I am full of it, seem to be represented by as few as 1 1/2 people: I am not certain Jesus existed, and Tim O'Neill may or may not think I am full of it. I don't want to speak for Tim on this point. See his comments under the very earliest article in the first link in this post.

There is one thing I find quite remarkable about the new edition or editions of Paulkovich's book, the edition or editions entitled Beyond the Crusades: Robert M Price, one of the most famous of all contemporary mythicists, who probably served as a college professor "in the relevant fields" longer than any other mythicist in the US if not the world -- Ah say Ah Say Robert M Price has written a Foreword for the new edition or editions. Whether this is a new low for Price, or just more of the same, I am not familiar enough with his work to say. Or maybe my wondering about that merely shows that I am terribly naive to assume that professors who write Forewords for books tend to read those books first.

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