Saturday, November 24, 2007

Case for the Real Jesus (3): Is Strobel at It Again?

On the question of whether early Christians borrowed myths from other ancient religions, Lee Strobel has an article on the internet citing a Swedish scholar name T.N.D. Mettinger as concluding that "there were absolutely no parallels between them [i.e., other ancient resurrection myths] and Jesus because these myths dealt with such things as the vegetation cycle." (read, think, pray live) Now I have not read Mettinger and I am not planning on tracking his book down, but I would just like to note that Mettinger's own words as quoted by Strobel don't sound nearly as emphatic. "There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising Gods in the surrounding world." (TCFTRJ p.161) This quote certainly supports Strobel's apologetics, but I don't think it rises to the level of "absolutely no parallels."

I also think that Strobel's latest article makes Mettinger sound stupid. Is it really such an incredible leap to go from a dying and rising god in a vegetation cycle to a dying and rising messiah? Is this something that was completely beyond the imagination of first century Jews? I might just as well argue that there are "absolutely no parallels" between George Lucas' Star Wars movies and Norse mythology (or where ever it was he lifted his stuff) because Thor and Odin did not have spaceships.

Speaking of parallels, Strobel's embellishments provide a nice model of how the stories about Jesus may have grown over time. Mettinger being unaware of any prima facie evidence becomes "absolutely no parallels." Sherwin-White's brief and general reflections become a "meticulous" study. And just as early Christians may have been unconcerned about being contradicted by eyewitnesses, Strobel seems completely unfazed by the possibility that someone might go check the sources he is citing.

1 comment:

  1. 'Is it really such an incredible leap to go from a dying and rising god in a vegetation cycle to a dying and rising messiah?'

    Didn't early Christians think a vegetation cycle was a really good metaphor for a dying and rising Messiah?

    Paul 'You do not plant the body that will be , but just a seed...'

    1 Clement 24

    'Let us behold the fruits [of the earth], how the sowing of grain takes place. The sower goes forth, and casts it into the ground; and the seed being thus scattered, though dry and naked when it fell upon the earth, is gradually dissolved.

    Then out of its dissolution the mighty power of the providence of the Lord raises it up again, and from one seed many arise and bring forth fruit.'