This past week I issued an updated version of part of my past book on the so-called "Jesus Myth" (the thesis that Jesus did not exist, not even as a person on Earth). The focus of the update was references to Jesus in extra-biblical sources like Josephus and Tacitus.
update reminded me that one of my chief gauges for whether an atheist
is worth any serious attention is their treatment of the reference to
Jesus in Tacitus' Annals. I don't think I'm overstating it when I
say that my discussion of this reference is the most thorough out there
from the perspective of debunking the Jesus Myth thesis. I pulled in
works of multiple Tacitean scholars (Syme, Ash, Mendell, etc.) as well
as Christian scholars, and I scoured atheist works for any and all
arguments I could find. I also keep up on any new ones, if any pop up.
whenever I pick up a book by an atheist that I need to review, I
immediately turn to the index (or use an online search method) to see
what they have to say about Tacitus. That gives me an idea whether to
expect a volume worthy of at least some respect, or something better
suited for rolling on to a cardboard tube.
By way of example, John Loftus has been giving props to an atheist work by an author named David Chumney, titled Jesus Eclipsed.
Now on first glance, this Chumney doesn't seem like your garden variety
fundy atheist. Yes, he's an apostate minister, but he was a minister in
the Presbyterian church for 30 years. So in that time, you'd think he'd
have picked up some notion of how to do things the right way. Right?
a screenshot of his ENTIRE analysis of Tacitus' reference to Jesus,
plus a list of the sources he uses. (It does not include background
information Chumney provides, like the quote itself.)
say this was a pathetic treatment of the issue would be too kind. The
two arguments Chumney gives -- that Jesus is called "Christ" and not
"Jesus," and that Tacitus based his report on what Christians said --
have been repeatedly debunked; France's assessment is NOT shared by
anyone with any level of expertise on Tacitus; Tacitean scholars do NOT
regard Tacitus as someone who would be that blase' about his sourcework.
Chumney has no sources from Tacitean scholarship. This is a botch job
of the worst order, but it is apparently the best Chumney can do on this
why is that the case? Is Chumney lazy? Ignorant? Incompetent? A victim
of confirmation bias? All of the above? I have no idea, but I do know
that anyone who descends to this level of incompetence does not deserve
serious attention. Chumney and other atheists/apostates grind out this
sort of stuff like clockwork, and in turn it is vacuously promoted by
the likes of Loftus. Why? Do they not know or care how this makes them
look? Do they not realize that it makes them look as incurious and as
uneducated as the Christians they so happily depict as 24/7 Homer
Simpson headslap performers?
it doesn't matter to them as long as they can continue sell their books
to each other and sit in their ever-growing circle of mutual high