Richard Carrier is an atheist anti-Christian activist who received a PhD in ancient history from Columbia University (he is also a polyamorous dog).
One evidence of what is known as spiritual warfare is the obvious difference between when personages such as Carrier are speaking soberly within the context of their fields of knowledge, on the one hand, and when they come unhinged when seeking to counter Christianity, on the other (here Christianity means the Bible, Jesus, YHVH, etc. and not a particular or peculiar religious expression).
During moments of clarity, Richard Carrier is able to make very well-reasoned and evidence based observations. Such was the case when he commented upon Kersey Graves’ book “The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors: Or Christianity Before Christ.”
He describes the book as “unreliable” and “utterly useless” and Graves as someone who is “oblivious,” who “obscures…fact[s]” comes to “false conclusions” and who “sometimes embellishes” and “goes a bit too far.” He also notes that “he rarely cites sources and engages in almost no critical examination of texts” is “a scholar who rarely cites a source” and thus, concludes that “Most scholars immediately recognize many of his findings as unsupported and dismiss Graves as useless.”
Here is his succinct summary:
Another typical problem is that Graves draws far too much from what often amounts to rather vague evidence. In general, there are ten kinds of problems that crop up in Graves’ work here and there:
○ Graves often does not distinguish his opinions and theories from what his sources and evidence actually state.
○ Graves often omits important sources and evidence.
○ Graves often mistreats in a biased or anachronistic way the sources he does use.
○ Graves occasionally relies on suspect sources.
○ Graves does little or no source analysis or formal textual criticism.
○ Graves’ work is totally uninformed by modern social history (a field that did not begin to be formally pursued until after World War II, i.e., after Graves died).
○ Graves’ conclusions and theories often far exceed what the evidence justifies, and he treats both speculations and sound theories as of equal value.
○ Graves often ignores important questions of chronology and the actual order of plausible historical influence, and completely disregards the methodological problems this creates.
○ Graves’ work lacks all humility, which is unconscionable given the great uncertainties that surround the sketchy material he had to work with.
○ Graves’ scholarship is obsolete, having been vastly improved upon by new methods, materials, discoveries, and textual criticism in the century since he worked. In fact, almost every historical work written before 1950 is regarded as outdated and untrustworthy by historians today.
Richard Carrier also hits the problem right on the head:
In general, even when the evidence is real, it often only appears many years after Christianity began, and thus might be evidence of diffusion in the other direction…
almost all his sources on Krishna long postdate Christian-Nestorian influence on India. No pre-Christian texts on Krishna contain the details crucial to his case, apart from those few that were common among many gods everywhere.
A very helpful discussion of related methodological problems by renowned scholar Bruce Metzger is also well worth reading (“Methodology in the Study of the Mystery Religions and Early Christianity” 2002).
Now to the bottom line which is that Carrier does claim to have uncovered some likenesses between Jesus and other personages of history, legend or myth:
I have confirmed only two real “resurrected” deities with some uncanny similarity to Jesus which are actually reported before Christian times, Zalmoxis and Inanna.
Yet, even in this regard he notes:
It only goes to show the pervasiveness in antiquity of an agricultural resurrection theme, and the Jesus story has more to it than that, although the cultural influence can certainly be acknowledged.
But now, to specifics as he did claim to have “confirmed…real ‘resurrected’ deities with some uncanny similarity to Jesus” (that resurrected is in quotes is very telling and Carrier himself will do the telling):
The only pre-Christian man to be buried and resurrected and deified in his own lifetime, that I know of, is the Thracian god Zalmoxis (also called Salmoxis or Gebele’izis)…
Zalmoxis buried himself alive, telling his followers he would be resurrected in three years, but he merely resided in a hidden dwelling all that time. His inevitable “resurrection” led to his deification, and a religion surrounding him.
Thus, even this alleged “uncanny similarity” comes to naught. Jesus was dead (confirmed by a spear thrust to His side by a Roman soldier) and buried by others in a sealed and guarded tomb. Zalmoxis “buried himself alive” and “resided in a hidden dwelling.”
Next, Richard Carrier states:
The only case, that I know, of a pre-Christian god actually being crucified and then resurrected is Inanna (also known as Ishtar), a Sumerian goddess whose crucifixion, resurrection and escape from the underworld.
This one is dealt with by Marcus, as noted in part 1. The issue is the versions of the Inanna/Ishtar story (two are found at Wikipedia: Inanna’s Descent to the Underworld and Aren’t there some striking parallels between the Jesus and Inanna stories?). Marcus notes, “The versions of the story I looked at both agree that Inanna went to the underworld,” note that she was alive before going into the underworld.
Also, one version “does not even mention any violence towards her. But the other article does describe her being put on a stake or meat hook. Nothing like the crucifixion Jesus endured…Inanna did not die as a substitution for anyone. Someone else was substituted in her place. That’s backwards.”
Also, when Ianna was hung on the hook, she was already dead. Moreover, according to some versions of the myth a “resurrection” took place but in the underworld (not in ours).
Richard Carrier wrote:
I have personally acquired a great deal of expertise in the related subjects, but only after a decade of hard-core exposure to source materials and other historical studies.
And even with a decade’s worth of research behind him he has only come up with two non-likenesses to Jesus.
Sadly, the persisting problem is that modern day scholarship in this area consists mostly of the young white male atheists (find details of this here) who think that scholarship means copying the first thing that pops up in a web search for, say, “Jesus myth, evil bible and atheism.” They, then run across the same points that have been raised and discredited many times before their birth, paste them into a forum or comment box and thinking that they have won the day. From The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors to the “documentary” Zeitgeist and all in between these issues are still handled in the same way: find or contrive manipulated translations, ignore that if any borrowing was done it was from Christianity and into various myths and then take advantage of the most un-skeptical amongst us: atheist activists.
For example, if you run across a theology which asserts tri-theism, a triad, three gods, etc. simply call them all “Trinity” and there you have it: see, just like Christianity!
Take stories about a woman having sex with gods in various forms such as animals or having dreams of an elephant entering their sides (such as is the case with Buddhism) and call these virgin births: see, just like Christianity!
You can see, just like Christianity! just about anything as long as you are manipulating your sources and your gullible audience. Considering that the word gullible is not even in the dictionary, it is easy to see why so very many people who are strictly interested in justifying their rebellion against YHVH are constantly, willfully and un-skeptically falling for it time and time again.
Jesus and the Story of Osiris and Horus (William Lane Craig)
drcraigvideos – YouTube
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