Did Jesus Exist Debate: Dr. Richard Carrier vs. Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald - Mythicist vs historicist

Debate starts at 8:06

Did Jesus Exist? Debate: Dr. Richard Carrier vs. Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald - Mythicist vs Historicist

The origins and rapid rise of Christianity, as well as the historical Jesus and the historicity of Jesus, are a matter of longstanding debate in theological and historical research. While Christianity may have started with an early nucleus of followers of Jesus, within a few years after the presumed death of Jesus in c. AD 33, at the time Paul started preaching, a number of "Jesus-movements" seem to have been in existence, which propagated divergent interpretations of Jesus' teachings. A central question is how these communities developed and what their original convictions were, as a wide range of beliefs and ideas can be found in early Christianity, including adoptionism and docetism, and also Gnostic traditions which used Christian imagery, which were all deemed heretical by proto-orthodox Christianity.


Richard Carrier  is an American author and activist, whose work focuses on empiricism, atheism, and the historicity of Jesus. A long-time contributor to self-published philosophical web sites, including The Secular Web and Freethought Blogs, Carrier has published a number of books and articles on philosophy and religion in classical antiquity, discussing the development of early Christianity from a skeptical viewpoint, and concerning religion and morality in the modern world. He has publicly debated a number of scholars on the historical basis of the Bible and Christianity. He is a prominent advocate of the theory that Jesus did not exist, which he has argued in a number of his works.


Dennis R. MacDonald is the John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology in California. MacDonald proposes a theory wherein the earliest books of the New Testament were responses to the Homeric Epics, including the Gospel of Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. The methodology he pioneered is called Mimesis Criticism. If his theories are correct then "nearly everything written on [the] early Christian narrative is flawed." According to him, modern biblical scholarship has failed to recognize the impact of Homeric Poetry.


The other major branch of MacDonald's scholarly activity is his contribution to the Synoptic Problem. He calls his solution the Q+/Papias Hypothesis.



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0:00: Introduction

8:05: Carrier’s three main arguments

17:42: If Jesus didn’t exist, where did Paul think he was crucified? (Carrier replies)

22:32: “Controversy, Mythicism and the Historical Jesus”, by Joseph Hoffmann

30:23: Dr. MacDonald’s arguments

43:05: Dr. Carrier’s reply

50:35: Dr. MacDonald’s reply

1:00:01: If Q existed, did Paul know its existence? (from Derek to Dr. MacDonald)

1:12:29: A primitive idea of an earthly kingdom of God?

1:16:39: “Ideology” and “social identity markers” better terms than “theology”

1:24:57: Why didn’t Paul expand on Jesus as a preacher? (to both Doctors)

1:36:17: What if Josephus really wrote James was the fleshly brother of Jesus?

1:53:26: Concluding remarks

1:58:29: Probability of Jesus’ existence for both Doctors


#Debate #Mythicism #DidJesusExist