The illustrious Ken Humphreys has spoken on the subject: “Joseph Hoffmann – biblical scholar ‘par excellence’ or arrogant know-it-all? Maurice Casey – out in the sun too long?”

Ken makes many good points here, especially in exposing the bizarre wishy-washy behavior by R. Joseph Hoffman, a “lapsed Catholic” who once stated he did not believe Jesus existed but is now waffling back to his upbringing, apparently.

Like an irrational ex-smoker, this newly re-seduced historical Jesus advocate rages against his former position, not by admitting any error on his own part in his previous perception, or by providing any new information that caused this sudden re-conversion, but by heaping abuse on those with whom he formerly socialized (including me, of course, whom he obviously fallaciously befriended some years ago). Apparently, Hoffman’s new Catholic conscience is causing him to see devils everywhere, especially with the old homeys he used to hang with.

In any event, as Humphreys shows, despite all the vitriol, arrogance, conceit, megalomania, credentialism and what might be construed as misogyny, there’s still no beef in the claims of those relying on God’s Word for their brand of “history.”

In the meantime, my forthcoming mythicist book Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israel Lawgiver should get some knickers in a twist. Where there exists one instance of supernatural mythmaking, we can be sure there are others. Those who would deny such a contention are deluding themselves as well as others.

Ken HumphreysThe New Apologists: R. Joseph Hoffmann and friends on a rescue mission for the “Jesus of history”

A trio of Jesus myth denouncers from the world of academe have rushed into the breach opened up by the failure of Bart Ehrman’s final solution to the problem of Jesus’ existence (Listen, he was a small-time deluded doom merchant who thought he was king, so there). Professors Hoffmann and Casey, and a young academic who worked for Casey, Stephanie Louise Fisher, have come to Ehrman’s support with a few dubious arguments in favour of a historical Jesus and a visceral attack on Jesus mythicists as a thoroughly bad crew.

The blogosphere has been enlivened by a potpourri of ego wars, withering sarcasm, aspersions about competence, intellect, comprehension, and honesty. The mythicist who has drawn most of the ire is Richard Carrier, a scholar whose scholarly prowess is matched by an equally impressive opinion of himself.

But what of the “historical Jesus”? Has the posse that has rushed to Ehrman’s side got a leg to stand on? For what it is worth, Hoffmann posted online three essays in what he called “The Jesus Process” on his blog, The New Oxonian.

Increasing numbers of web-savvy enquirers are asking, “What real evidence is there for a historical Jesus?” and are not convinced by the replies. The result is that a paradigm shift is in progress. The mythic Jesus, an idea largely ignored in the 20th century by the vested interests of religion and conservative scholarship, has argued its way back onto the agenda, if only to compel the mandarins to issue contemptuous rebuttals.

Yet whisper-thin defences of a historical Jesus do not cut it in the internet-enabled world – and established academics don’t like that one little bit. The on-line arena can be rude and crude but, as with the printing press six hundred years ago, the power of a cartel has been broken. For some tastes, the wrong kind of people have gained an audience.

One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Jesus of Nazareth in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist.” – Maurice Casey

The endorsement of amateurs by amateurs is becoming a rampant, annoying and distressing problem for biblical scholarship … The disease these buggers spread is ignorance disguised as common sense … the popularity of the non-historicity thesis … now threatens to distract biblical studies from the serious business of illuminating the causes, context and development of early Christianity.” – Joseph Hoffmann

Here I will interrupt Ken’s long dissection to point out that, according to Dr. R. Joseph Hoffman, therefore, mythicists – those rational people who do not automatically believe in a “historical” Jesus based on blind faith and no hard evidence – are “buggers” who “spread disease.” Charming. Bring back the Inquisition to squash these mediums for demons! Perhaps a little witch-burning is in order? Since Hoffman was a mythicist until some weird conversion based on nothing just a few years ago, I guess he is to be included in this category of “disease-spreading buggers.”

But what can we expect from an apparently renewed Catholic who studied at Harvard Divinity School, a Christian theological institution? This type of behavior in viciously attacking and dehumanizing others with such calumny over a theological idea is hardly an improvement over the same cultic frenzy we have been subjected to during the past nearly 2,000 years since the Christ myth was created. Obviously, it would appear to be incautious to entrust such human-pillorying and antisocial individuals with any kind of “humanist” activism.

See the rest of Ken’s lengthy rebuttal here.