Posted on January 22nd, 2013
It’s astounding how rapidly the academy has declined, when even a luminary such as Richard Dawkins can be so unscholarly. John Dickson at ABC Religion and Ethics writes in “The irreligious assault on the historicity of Jesus,”
When Richard Dawkins says “a serious historical case” can be made that “Jesus never lived at all,” he no doubt receives applause from his followers, and perhaps even from his fellow experts in zoology, but in departments of Classics, Ancient History, New Testament, Jewish and Near Eastern Studies (the relevant disciplines) such a comment is entirely bemusing – all the more so when one discovers that Dawkins’ sole example of this serious history is G.A. Wells. As is well known, Wells is a professor of German language at London University who, in any case, has publicly retracted his argument of the 1970s that Jesus was a myth. I have often wondered what Dawkins would say if I disputed biological evolution and cited a language professor as my sole authority (one that had changed his mind to boot).
It isn’t just bestselling atheists like Dawkins who make this faux pas. A measured journalist like ABC Radio National’s Michael Cathcart recently ventured unknowingly into the heavyweight ring and got caught out. In an otherwise excellent interview with Salman Rushdie, Cathcart remarked, “There’s no doubt at all that Mohammed was a real person, whereas Jesus is a person who is at least ambiguous in the question of whether he existed or not.” I say “caught out” because Cathcart promptly received a gentle correction from two of Australia’s best known Roman historians, Professors Alanna Nobbs and Edwin Judge. “In our judgment,” they wrote, “the second part of your statement is quite far from reality.” They explained, “While historical and theological debates remain about the actions and significance of this figure, his fame as a teacher, and his crucifixion under the Roman prefect Pontius Pilate, may be described as historically certain.”
It’s a short piece; read it by clicking here.
Of course, He could have just been a space alien: