13 Aug 2014 
#102 Carrier's problem with the Rank-Raglan scale for Jesus in OHJ. Presented in a graph

To Blog Entry Page / To Tags Complete List / To My Website
Emphasis mine

In order to use the Tags function, please copy selected {tag_name} (c/w brackets), then go to the Blog Entry Page and paste it in the FIND box of your browser.

Where does the data for the graph come from?

a) According to page 232 of "On The Historicity Of Jesus" (OHJ), Carrier has Jesus scoring 20 according to Matthew's gospel and 14 according to Mark's gospel.
My scoring is lower for both gospels: 13 and 8 (see here for explanations).
b) According to page 266 of OHJ, Carrier accepts (grudgingly) a dating of Matthew's gospel in the 80's or 90's. I put 90 on his behalf. 90 is also very acceptable by me (see here for explanations).
c) According to page 265 of OHJ, Carrier has Mark's gospel written after 70 and, from page 266, before Matthew's gospel. I put a date of 75 in his behalf. As for me, I am very certain the earliest gospel was put together in either the end of 70 or early 71 (see here for explanations).
d) According to page 261 of OHJ, Carrier accepts a dating in the 50's for Paul's "authentic" epistles. I do too, from 50 (1 Thessalonians) to 57 (Romans) (see here for explanations)
e) I rated the (true) historical Jesus  (as determined by my studyon the Rank-Raglan scale with a 4.
Scoring other than 0 comes from these five points:
8. We are told nothing of his childhood.
According to 1 Corinthians 9:5, the brothers of Jesus were invited by various Christian communities and likely said a few things about Jesus' childhood, but not important enough to be put in the gospels if known by their authors. I put 0.5 on this one. 
10. He is crowned, hailed or becomes king.
Hailed as king by some: yes. So a 1 for this one. And that's very generous, because Jesus never became a ruling king (when on earth) and the crowning (with a crown of horns --15:17) is a painful mockery.
12. He prescribes laws.
Jesus, at best, might have given advices and directives (such as forgiving others), but certainly not prescribe laws. I give a 0.5 on this one.
13. He then loses favor with the gods or his subjects.
Yes, Jesus was abandoned by his disciples or the ones who hailed him as "king", and "forgotten" for a few years after his death. The fact he had been crucified was probably first thought he had been forsaken by God. Another 1 on that one.
18. His body turns up missing.
His body was disposed from the cross in whatever condition to a place and in a way not known by his followers. I issue a 1 for this point.
f) Paul added up one point on this (true) historical Jesus:
4. He is reputed to be the son of a god.
That is before the incarnation (Gal 4:4, Ro 8:3). Therefore, on earth, Jesus is already "Son of God" (& that compelled "Mark" to "prove" Jesus was divine during his "ministry").
Now, let's put all the "data" from the aforementioned notes in the form of a chart showing Carrier's hypothesis and mine, in regards of the Rank-Raglan scale for Jesus:
We can observe, that, according to Carrier, stories about a fictional earthly & human Jesus would have started late and then fill up with all kind of myths in a relatively short time (according to my graph, approximately four times faster than from a historical Jesus). And during a period when many Christians would still remember the teachings of Paul (and others) about a heavenly deity having been incarnated & crucified in the sky (by demons) and never reaching earth. Not plausible at all!

However, in OHJ (p.249), Carrier thinks that "a [heavenly/celestial] deity can easily be euhemerized from day one. It does not require any time lag at all."
But let's not forget that "day one" would be some time after Paul's times, when Christians then had been told previously to believe in a Christ who never went on earth.
However the critical historicist theories allow for a start well above zero in the Rank-Raglan scale, at a much earlier time, and as an earthly human from the get go. Therefore Christians then did not have to confront a radically changing Jesus within a short period, but a progressive "enhancement" from the initial one as heard from eyewitness(es). And that could be explained by this/these one(s) not having told everything, which "Mark" dubiously tried to explain through the so-called messianic secret, but later somehow "known".
That seems to me a lot more plausible (and evidenced) than Carrier's hypothesis.

Next is what Carrier wrote (with my comments) on pages 244 & 245 of OHJ:

We can imagine two possibilities:
(1) the elements added to Matthew were already around from the beginning (and were perhaps even known to Mark, who chose not to use them so he could sell a different theology
(2) they were invented later (perhaps by Matthew himself, and thus not known to Mark, even if some were invented by Jesus himself during his own lifetime).
Option (2) would entail that the legend of Jesus was fabricated and hero-typed very early and very rapidly (decisively refuting any claim that this couldn't have happened: see ß7),

My comment: once again, Carrier is imagining unproven facts and that becomes evidence for his theory (for minimum historicity: see later in my last comment).
But the legend was not fabricated so rapidly, as shown on the graph! Actually, some four to five times slower than for (1) or (2). That's quite a difference!

Not while option (1) would entail Jesus himself was probably fabricated, being hero-typed from the very start. Certainly, if Jesus started as a RankóRaglan hero, the probability that he was a historical man who just 'happened' to match every point on the scale is extremely small.

My comment: however, the Rastafarian religious beliefs about Haile Selassie (see post #106) would fully counteract Carrier assumption.
And the Jesus of Matthew's gospel, is far from matching all points on the Rank-Raglan scale, despite Carrier's biased efforts (see post #99).

Clearly, the overwhelming odds in that case would favor his being fabricated out of whole cloth (since getting away with claiming such wild fabrications so soon after a real man's death, when the less glamorous truth would be known to too many witnesses, would be even more difficult).

My comment: the so-called overwhelming odds related to fast mythologization of Jesus do not disprove in any way Jesus lived (as Haile Selassie) as a human on earth. Furthermore, Carrier is assuming the legendary developments on earthly Jesus started when many apostles (preaching a mythical Jesus) would still be around. But there is no supporting evidence on that matter.
And if we believe in that kind of odds, the chance to have an US president being Afro-American would be almost null, but ... In my case, what would be the odds for a man from France settling in western Canada? very little. But here I am, and not as fiction from a book!
We cannot base the odd about somebody having existed or not from what happened after his death, even if his later mythologization is in part similar to others which are not evidenced to have started from human persons.
Also, Paul (see post #6) and the eyewitnesses were not aware or/and telling about a Rank-Raglan hero type. They knew the historical Jesus as rather mundane (see post #108).
The process started with Mark's gospel, at a time when these eyewitnesses were gone.
Why more difficult? a gospel Jesus starting from a real historical Jesus, who already had a few of these Rank-Raglan scale points, is a lot easier to explain than beginning from an entirely celestial one abruptly changed to the one of Mark's & Matthew's gospel.
Furthermore, the Pauline epistles & Hebrews are witnesses that "wild fabrications" (on the earthly/human Jesus) DID NOT start "soon after a real man's death", but at least a generation later.

So we cannot object to the assigned prior of 33% by proposing (1). If anything, (1) would entail a much lower prior probability that he was historical, much nearer to zero in fact. We should in that case adopt the lower bound of 6%.
So anyone who wants to resist this conclusion has only one option: (2) that Jesus was remade in the image of a RankóRaglan hero later on, and was never such originally. But you cannot embrace (2) without also embracing the general principle that massive, rapid legendary development is possible, and not only that, but you must also accept the specific conclusion that it undeniably occurred in the case of Jesus

My comment: as shown on my graph, the legendary development of Jesus (according to the Rank-Raglan scale) was not so massive & rapid. However the complete legend starting in one block (as "captured" by "Matthew", possibility (1), one "imagined" and adopted by Carrier) is totally unrealistic, more so considering that legend would have been created among Christians believing a Jesus who never was on earth.
Let's add because of (1) (coming from Carrier's imagination!!!), Carrier justified the reduction of the PRIOR odd (all based on Rank Raglan) from 1/2 (33% probability Jesus existed on earth) for "best case for historicity" to 1/15 (6% probability Jesus existed on earth) for "worst case for historicity".

Cordially, Bernard

Tags: {Carrier} {Carrier's OHJ} {Jesus' historicity} {mythicism} {Rank-Raglan}
Your comment: please copy "post #102" (to be pasted in your reply) and then click on "New Comment".