G’Day World #343 – Robert M Price “Did Jesus Exist?”

My guest today is Robert M Price, a Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary in Miami Gardens, Florida. He is a fellow of the Jesus Seminar and the author of many books and articles on religion. Some of you may remember Robert from his appearance in the documentary The God Who Wasnt There.

Robert M Price

Robert joins me today to examine the historical case for Jesus. We examine the evidence for the standard arguments Christians have for believing that Jesus existed:

  • Are the New Testament Gospels or Paul’s letters really eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ life?
  • Are there any non-Christian contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life?
  • Is there any evidence for the Resurrection?
  • Is it true that there is more evidence for Jesus than any other person in history?
  • Is it logical that because we have multiple versions of Jesus’ life that is must be true (what is known as the “multiple attestation” argument)?
  • If Jesus didn’t exist, why does everybody think he did?

You can find out more about Robert on his site and you can listen to his podcast, The Bible Geek.

This show is the long-awaited follow-up to my interview with Australian Christian historian and theologian  John Dickson that I did in January 2007.

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12 thoughts on “G’Day World #343 – Robert M Price “Did Jesus Exist?”

  1. This one was great! Can anyone recommend a good comprehensive book about the theory that the “orthodox” Jesus story was a fabrication created by the church fathers, based on the early christian folklore, to give their people authority against the gnostics or other christian ‘sects’?

  2. Sean, yes mate, I called Robert’s landline from Skype, glad you liked it.

    Xan, yeah I don’t think people buy his books for the cover. 🙂

  3. Hehe, thanks for getting this interview. I think Deconstructing Jesus has one of the better cover arts for RMP’s books. Jesus is Dead is kinda blah, but the content is pretty good.

  4. Xan:

    The Jesus Puzzle by Earl Doherty
    Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ by Alvar Ellegärd
    The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man by Robert Price

    Listen to these podcats for a good introduction to all of the pertintnt issues and arguments involved:

  5. Hey Cam thanks for the show, one of the most comprehensive interviews I’ve heard of Robert Price and I’ve heard a few so well done.

    Do you know of any where that outlines an alternative hypothesis of how Xy started from Jesus as just myth? Rather than Jesus as a historical figure who was mythologised.

    Bummed I skipped the show where you asked who would be good to interview. I would have voted for NT Wright and Marcus Borg. Less extreme than Robert Price and, by the sounds of it, Ben Wetherington III (still not sure if I’ll be able to stomach listening to that show). Borg is more of the historical figure heavily mythologised no historical resurrection etc… school and Wright is evangelical but of the English Anglican variety rather than the American fundamentalist variety. They did write a book together called “Two Visions” outlining there two different takes on Jesus. They have quite a deal of respect for each other so it might have been possible to get them both on at the same time.

    For me one of the interesting things is that much of current day fundamentalism rose out of the enlightenment and a need for believers to have “historical evidence” to back up there beliefs and that the gospels be exact eyewitness accounts. I think it’s fairly obvious that this was not the case for early Xns as at the very least they would have done a few simple touch ups of gospels to make sure events ran in a consistent chronological order (eg: Jesus turning the tables in the temples) and similar events were the same (eg: the Beatitudes in Mathew and Luke) That two people tried to add two different endings to the end of Mark shows that this is something that they were at least willing to do.

    For those interested the “more evidence for Jesus Julius Caesar” argument, it comes from there being more copies less than certain age, might be something like 200 years (ie: New testament gospels) about Jesus life than Julius Caesar’s life.

    Finally, I was just thinking even if we had a photo of Jesus on a cross on Friday AD30 say holding a copy of the Roman Daily News and then walking around on Sunday with the a copy of the Sunday Roman Daily News this wouldn’t prove anything. Believing in the resurrection would still be way outside any most likely scenario. Similarly if we had a you tube video of Jesus performing a miracle, we might at best conclude that someone had unexplained healing powers but again to conclude that they were the son of god is way outside of any most likely scenario. I’ve always though that Xns (myself included) were making leap of faiths around these issues. I’m still a fan of the Jesus I find in the gospels and it’s always been because of the philosophical truths I find there rather than historical truths. To read a gospel miracle as just a miraculous event is really to miss the point completely the recipient of the healings were almost always people who were exclude from the temple according to pharisaic law. For me it’s always been primarily about been showing love and justice to all people especially those excluded by the rest of society whether that be a leper in the first centaury or an atheist being told there an idiot on a blog by a bunch of fundamentalist Xns.

    Ahhh… all off my chest now.

  6. Great interview. In fact this is probably the best interview with Dr. Price I’ve yet heard. Is there a way I can download a versin that will play on itunes so that I can have it on my ipod? Thanks.

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