Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mythicism vs. Agnosticism

If you think it more likely than not that Jesus was purely mythical, you are viewed as a mythicist who has “drunk the Kool Aid” in the eyes of most of those who affirm the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth.  This tends to be true even if you acknowledge the possibility of a historical Jesus. In my experience, there are only a few historicists who frequent these discussions who will acknowledge mythicism as intellectually defensible in any form.

If you think that the evidence is insufficient to establish that either a historical Jesus or a mythical Jesus is more likely than not, “historical Jesus agnostic” is probably the most generally accepted term and it is how I describe myself.  If you profess agnosticism about a historical Jesus, you will get varying reactions from those who affirm historicity. Some historicists seem to accept agnosticism as an intellectually defensible position. Others think that agnostics may not have yet drunk the Kool Aid, but that they are definitely sniffing the fumes. Others make no distinction between people who decline to affirm historicity and they view agnostics and mythicists as equally nutty.

If you are careful to affirm your agnosticism, you will probably be generally treated with more respect by historicists, although you may periodically provoke their ire simply because it is hard to be agnostic without at least acknowledging the possibility that mythicism is true.

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