Sunday, October 4, 2009

James D.G. Dunn on Robert Price

James D.G. Dunn (Jesus Remembered) on Robert M. Price's (Christ Mythicist) in the soon to be released The Historical Jesus: Five Views published by IVP:

On Price's use and abuse of the criterion of dissimilarity:
Price takes up the early form-critical observation that for the Jesus tradition to have been preserved it must have been of some pragmatic value, and he uses it to make the criterion of dissimilarity "all devouring." If every bit and piece of the Jesus tradition had a home in the early church, then "all must be denied to Jesus by the criterion of dissimilarity." Such an extension of the criterion of dissimilarity simply undermines what value it has. It is so a priori obvious that an influential teacher's teaching would influence his disciples and shape their own teaching and lives in substantial degree that the dissimilarity criterion does not help us to distinguish the one from the other.
James D.G. Dunn in The Historical Jesus: Five Views (IVP 2009), p.95
James Dunn on Price's use, or lack thereof, of primary sources:

Where I begin to become irritated by Price's thesis, as with those of his predecessors, is his ignoring what everyone else in the business regards as primary data and his readiness to offer less plausible hypotheses to explain other data that inconveniences his thesis. Why no mention of 1 Corinthians 15:3 - generally reckoned to be an account of the faith that Paul received when he was converted, that is, within two or three years of the putative events - "that Chris died...." Why no reference to Paul's preaching of Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:23), his preaching as openly portraying Christ as crucified (Gal 3:1)? How can Price actually assert that "we should never guess from the Epistles that Jesus died in a particular historical or political context," when it is well enough known that crucifixion was a Roman political method of execution characteristically for rebels and slaves? I could go on at some length - "seed of David" (Rom 1:3), "born under the law" (Gal 4:4), "Christ did not please himself" (Rom 15:3). Yet Price is able to assert that "the not evidence a recent historical Jesus," a ludicrous claim that simply diminishes the credibility of the argument used in support. (p.96)
Yes, the question in your head is "why are you bothering with an idiosyncratic Christ Mythicist?" Well, such views seem to be believed by laymen with a polemical agenda against Christianity.


  1. thanks for sharing

  2. Your an idiot Dr. Robert Price has two PhDs and is more qualified than your apologist. Dr. Price doesnt mention corinthians because where it talks about jesus was just an insertion by later christians.

  3. Amazing, Michelle. The man is allowed to ignore the evidence to push his left-field position because he has two PhDs? Well, then I would argue that James D.G. Dunn's criticisms are more valid because he has two doctorates from Cambridge.

    However, that is not the position I would take. One could have a PhD and be a rather useless scholar inependently or outside of his field. Why I would lend credence to Dunn is because he is one of the leading New Testament and historical Jesus scholar. He is widely published; he engages with peer-review; he has held positions at accredited institutions (in contrast to Price); etc.

    But you don't have to take my words for this. Just compare the thoroughness of James D.G. Dunn in "Jesus Remembered" to any of Robert Price's idiosyncratic books.