Thursday, August 28, 2014


[Links to my books The Ghost in the Gospels and True Jew are at the right. True Jew is the more recent. It is shorter and, with concise arguments, it is a faster read.]

I apologize for being repetitive about this, but every once in a while I have to appeal again to the writers of TV police and detective dramas to read my books, especially True Jew, and you tell me how rational I have been and whether or not I have proven my case. An abundance of evidence, a very solid pattern, tells us that Jewish leaders tried to save the life of Jesus and put a stop to that Roman execution.
The writers of cop dramas have the best understanding of scientific method, or more simply, rational thinking. Better than anyone else I have come across. New Testament scholars, or historical Jesus scholars, are intelligent people. I have no doubt their IQs are much higher than mine. If you plunked them down in any scientific field, like chemistry or biology or the history of China, I am sure they would do a great job.
But in historical Jesus studies, they have decided to throw all reason out the window. Evidence is considered completely irrelevant and only ideology matters. Their chief ideology is that Jesus was surrounded by Jewish enemies who were the primary instruments of his demise. It does not matter how much evidence this ideology cannot explain. The ideology must reign supreme.
How many times have I seen this kind of “reasoning” exposed and challenged on the TV shows I am referring to? I recall this happening at least twice on Numbers, when that show was on the air, and at least once on CSI: New York. The same lesson has been taught on many of the other shows, but those two times on Numbers really impressed me. If I recall, the second time, the point was made by Charlie’s girlfriend. It was funny because Charlie the mathematician was usually the one to make this point, and in fact, I think he had previously argued this on another case. But this time his girlfriend had to remind him.
On a cop show, the theory is that so-and-so committed the murder or whatever the crime is. But the good detectives, like Charlie, are alert to the facts. They want to know whether their theory indeed explains the evidence. If there are a couple of pieces or more that stick out as unaccounted for by the working theory, then they question whether this suspect was the perpetrator. They go looking for another theory that will explain the evidence better. When Charlie’s girlfriend reminded him of correct scientific procedure, Charlie immediately got the point and said something like, “Okay, let’s go back to the evidence and see what is not adding up under our current theory.” The goal is to really pay attention to all the evidence and not erase or rewrite any of it so that our current theory will falsely hold up.
That’s how it’s done, that’s how it should be. But not in historical Jesus studies. If anyone was paying attention to the facts, they would know that a high priest ripping his robes (in Mark and Matt) was not an act of condemnation, but an act of pleading, begging Jesus not to do something, an act of persuasion which was not followed up by threats or any severe actions (as the examples in Josephus teach us). They would pay attention to the facts that in John and Luke, there is no death penalty against Jesus, and in Acts, Paul specifically says there was no such decision that Jesus had done something worthy of death.
There are many more details like that which do not make much sense if Jewish leaders were out to conduct a hostile procedure against Jesus. On Numbers, they would go back to the drawing board and try another theory. Historical Jesus scholars, on the other hand, generally operate by two or more theories. One is that Jewish leaders were responsible, or at least partly so, for his death, and then they use another theory or theories to explain away the evidence that their primary ideology cannot make sense of. They will say that the Gospel authors were not historians or were more mythmakers, and so there are odd things in their story, but that is just something scholars employ to get rid of troublesome evidence.
Everyone knows the details of the so-called trial scene in the Gospels do not match up with the way Jewish trials were conducted. But scholars shrug their shoulders and say, who cares, we don’t have to explain this, we all know Jewish leaders were doing something bad. How do they know this? Their ideology tells them so. If you were watching detectives “reason” like this on a TV show, you would change the channel. What you would be waiting for is one detective to say, “Let’s try another theory,” and when that does not happen, you would say, “This is crap” and reach for the remote.
Who will give us a remote to find a more sensible show in historical Jesus scholarship? My book, True Jew.
© 2014 Leon Zitzer

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