Myth and the Historical Jesus

When Jesus is deconstructed and when it becomes clear that the Christ of miracle, mystery, and authority never existed, it is a short step to wondering if the Jesus story as a whole is a myth—something made up, perhaps by a creative school, reflecting both the deepest construct and value of human spirituality. But the historical Jesus as such never existed.

Very few scholars of history and of biblical studies draw the conclusion that a Jesus of history never existed. The main division in scholarship concerns how to appropriate Jesus. Was he an apocalypticist or a wisdom-centered teacher? Few question if he ever lived. Still, on a popular level, Jesus understood as a myth, and strictly a myth, seems to be gaining ground. So, was he or wasn’t he? Did he ever live or is it all a good story?

The critical examination of the Christian gospels, especially with the rise of form criticism*, recommends the conclusion that Jesus as the center of Christian dogma emerged in the itinerant preaching of the earliest Jesus movements. Basically, people spoke in the name of a “living” Jesus who had died. Preachers spoke “in the spirit” of Jesus, thus making him alive in their witness. The Gospel of John is the least historical gospel in that Jesus said basically nothing found there. But John is “historical” in the sense that it records the “speaking in the spirit of Jesus” of a relatively early community. We find in the speeches in that gospel characteristic expressions of unknown individuals who spoke as if they were the living Jesus. This was the charisma of the early church, which, of course, eventually needed to be regulated in some form.

The earliest social movements related to Jesus preserved his memory in this way. Sometimes an individual or group might speak “as if” they were Jesus—making up things believed to be consistent with the living Jesus—but sometimes the memory preserved expressed something Jesus very likely did say, or almost said, as a historical being. The parables and aphorisms of Jesus are the case in point. These forms of speech do reflect the voiceprint of a historical person whose basic mode of teaching was preserved, if re-interpreted, in the teaching and preaching of the next generation. Form criticism was all about finding the voiceprint of the teacher that was carried forward in new shapes by the students.

Now comes the myth problem. It all starts by asking how much of the Jesus material is fictional, arising from later generations who spoke “in the name of” Jesus without actually saying anything the historical Jesus said. And how much of the Jesus material can be identified with some confidence as an originating voiceprint, something close to historical? The line between these two questions is often blurry, and it is exactly this blurriness that inspires the possibility that all the material is mythical, that is, made up “in the name of” Jesus. Once that step is taken, the natural conclusion is that there was no historical Jesus.

It is actually hard to prove there was a historical Jesus using conventional forms of history. Jesus was an unknown. We have to remember that the big name in his lifetime was Socrates. Everybody, including Jesus, had heard of Socrates. He was famous. Jesus as a Galilean peasant was not famous, and he had no chance at ever being famous. In light of the rise of Christianity it is hard to imagine that Jesus was so unknown. Added to this is the immediate context in which Jesus lived. He was illiterate, or very likely so, and poor. His community was also illiterate and poor. No one was able to hire scribes to read great works to them, to record great thoughts by them, or send letters home. The Christian gospels recording the popularity of Jesus and his large following is almost certainly imaginary. His crucifixion by the Roman authorities was done without blinking—another nobody in a long line of nobody rabble rousers.

We look at Jesus from the perspective of 2,000 years of history, and he seems to us to be among the greats. Indeed, he is among the greats, but in the immediate experience of his life he belongs to a minor school or movement that was largely ignored and mostly unknown. Accordingly, it is not possible to expect a great recovery of contemporary witnesses to his life and times. What we can expect is second- and third-generation historians mentioning him in light of a new and rising movement that claims him as the true Caesar (the Lord, Savior, and Son of God).

Now, with this, the ancient historians’ attention is grabbed and among them the general questions arise: Who was this Jesus and who are these people? And, by the way, what are we to do with these folks, anyway?

History witnesses to Jesus in this secondary way. Later historians know about the rising movement and relay whatever information they can gather regarding its founder. The information is humble. It concerns that followers call him Christ, that he was related to another teacher named John the Baptist, that he was crucified, that the followers are poor and even ignorant, spreading rumors and lies. This is what we can read in Josephus (minus later Christian redaction), Tacitus, Suetonius, the letter of Pliny the Younger, and others (Mara ben Saparion, Lucian of Samosata, and possibly Thallus).

So why then does the idea that there never was a Jesus not only persist but gain popular assent? The answer here is the plain fact that despite the above, there is no extant contemporary witness to the Jesus of history. The earliest we can get is Paul, who said that Jesus was once historical (2 Cor 5:16) and who met and knew the “brother of the Lord” (Gal 1:19). Still, it remains simply true that there has never been found an eyewitness report about any incident in the life of Jesus. This simple fact is often the foundation for believing Jesus was only and purely myth.

The second element that supports the belief Jesus was a myth emerges because this belief is partially correct. Much about Jesus is indeed a myth. Really, much about anybody, including our own selves, is myth. With Jesus, like with Confucius or other ancient teachers about whom nothing contemporary exists, myth is part of the package. The earliest Christian movements did interpret Jesus in light of Jewish scripture—especially the prophets and especially 2 Isaiah. The dying and rising Jesus is consistent both with 4 Maccabees, where there is the notion of divine vindication, and Pagan gods, where there is the notion of regeneration. Jesus, his death and resurrection, fit right in with these common, and universal, mythic patterns. Early Christians could draw upon both Jewish and Greek sources in this regard.

Third, it is just a plain fact that many early Christian preachers spoke in the name of Jesus, saying things that Jesus never said. So, it is true that Christianity created Christ to the extent that the movement created a cache of Jesus sayings that contained both historical and non-historical (inspired) sayings. They are sometimes easy to tell apart. For example, sayings about the nature of Jesus and his divinity are made up; parables about the nature or reality of the Kingdom of God are not. Commentary on parables (on how they should be interpreted) is made up; the use of parables to convey teaching is not. Jesus never said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). Jesus did say, “A sower went out to sow” (Mark 4:3). And Mark did interpret the sower parable as an allegory about the quality of Christian believers. So, even within the Christian sources that witness to Jesus, much of the witness is myth. There is not much a historian can do about this situation except understand it. Still, it does not prove the case that Jesus never existed.

We all want something to believe, and sometimes when what we used to feel certain about become questionable, the reaction is to throw the whole thing out. I believed many things as a child about my family that turned out to be myth. I threw out the family when I was a teenager, but when I became an adult I discovered how I was also often a “myth” to my own self (believing things about myself that were not true). When I was an adult, I forgave my family for being human and learned to love in a mature way.

When the historical Jesus becomes someone who can inspire us and teach us about life outside of the Christian myth, this involves, and perhaps is the consequence of, the act of forgiving Jesus for being human. It is part of his fate, even his unfortunate fate, to be one of the greatest myths of human history. But this does not erase the voiceprint of a historical figure. True, it makes Jesus an enigma, as Albert Schweitzer famously said, but it does not eliminate the basic fact of his humanity.

© David Galston

*Form criticism is the analysis of the history of literary units like parables and aphorisms.

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David GalstonDavid Galston is a University Chaplain, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, Academic Director at Westar Institute, and academic adviser to the SnowStar Institute in Canada. He is the author of Embracing the Human Jesus: A Wisdom Path for Contemporary Christianity (2012).

 

24 replies
  1. Gene Stecher says:

    Dr. Galston wrote: ” Jesus never said, ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30). Jesus did say, ‘A sower went out to sow’ (Mark 4:3). ”

    You see, this illustrates the problem perfectly. The average pew-sitter doesn’t care about this distinction. The mind-set is: why couldn’t the same person have said both?

    Actually, the same person could have said both. The average person wants a reliable authority, a ‘this is the way it is guy’, not a ‘what do you think about this?’ guy. So why are “we” trying to force this distinction on the church?

    Perhaps we’ve formed the goal incorrectly. Should not the human Jesus, in church, be a partner with the mythical Jesus, rather than a competitor and/or a replacement? The book hasn’t arrived for me yet so I’m not sure which direction is being advocated.

    But for a partnership to exist, the clergy have to emphasize the one as much as the other, and that’s especially hard for Catholics when every service revolves around the Mass, and especially hard for non-Catholics when every service revolves around trusting in eternal life.

    Now if what we want is a group of wisdom seekers to replace the church, something akin to a Shakespearean guild for the study of literature, that direction could certainly be taken parallel to the church in weekly study groups which focus on the aphorisms and parables. I wonder what the staying-power of such groups might be?

  2. David Davis says:

    The story of Jesus is just that. A story. Harry Potter, who is very much alive in our consciousness, was created by an author. Was this the case with Jesus? That’s what is being asked and gaining ground.
    With Jesus, however, there is a minimum of 4 authors. This makes it more probable that we have different stories about the same individual. An individual who we are yet to understand exactly what he wanted to teach.

  3. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Did Jesus exist? It’s possible. The only Jesus Seminar vote I have seen is in “John the Baptist and Jesus,” p. 145. Their rationale was not convincing. They write, “Just as there was a person named John the Baptist, or Baptizer, so there was most certainly a person named Jesus.” My head spins with that argument! (The vote was 96% believing there was this Jesus.) Then, they mention footnotes by Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius and references in rabbinical writings, all written after the earliest Gospels, the first two having whiffs of the Gospels in their summaries, Suetonius rather confusing (Claudius expelling Jews because of Chrestus) and the rabbinical writings extremely late. None of those are compelling or even halfway convincing arguments. (They didn’t mention it, but there are letters of Pliny. These were after Christianity was in full swing, just as Suetonius and Tacitus.)

    Mythicist arguments generally hinge on Paul, but I believe there are more reasons to question the historicity of “Paul” the letter writer than Jesus! As Darrell Doughty wrote (“Forum, New Series,” 5.2) “Unlike any other field in the study of early Christianity, traditional Pauline studies deals with writings whose authorial authenticity and literary integrity are taken for granted. The critical methodologies – historical criticism and compositional criticism – that we apply to other early Christian writings have no place here, not because the historical integrity of these writings was demonstrated long ago, but because of the assumption of authenticity is foundational for Christian theological hermeneutics. The Pauline writings enjoy a privileged place…” Most mythicists I have read see the Gospels as being written after the “Christ myth” was assumed, using a default of a mid-first century letter writer. In my opinion, they put the cart before the horse, but they don’t get far. The cart has no wheels and the horse is the protagonist of a story. Since most I have read are not part of the guild, this is a real concern to me. I generally am very critical of people who enter my realm of scholarship making claims without background knowledge, so I can understand biblical scholars’ disdain.

    The Jesus story is a reiteration of themes found in ancient Near East antiquity. It is one story, the Gospel of Mark, amended by other gospeleers. Though most real scholars (members of the guild) do not doubt there was a historical Jesus, the story is mythic, not biographic. If one takes the mythic out of it, one finds a Jesus walking around Galilee speaking a set of aphorisms, parables and challenge/responses (chreia). He decides to go to Jerusalem, is not well received, and killed for his efforts. In that light, there were probably many “Jesuses” who ran afoul with priests, Herodians, and Roman governors in the first century. The witty sayings and parables are literature. It seems impossible to say they contain the “voiceprint of Jesus,” unless one defines the Jesus (apocalyptic, wisdom man, God’s only begotten young‘un) before one sorts. Modern studies in oral tradition does not seem to support this, either, if indeed the Jesus story began with the oral sayings. This limits the reliability of form criticism.

    Joanna Dewey, “First Century Oral-Written Media,” Spring 2006 Seminar Paper notes that “Oral stories are never fixed.” She speaks of context, of the oral story building on known traditions, the meaning not coming from words but the way it is told, and that the “oral story always adapts to the particular audience and situation.” “… the focus for both performer and audience is on the experience of the performance event, not on information learned or reinforced. The point is the emotional impact, not the knowledge gained.” If this is accurate, can one say that any of these Greek writers were transmitting any “historical” words of Jesus, which was written after the devastation of the first Jewish Roman war? Was that really God speaking verbatim to Moses in Exodus? If there is a “voiceprint,” it seems obvious that this would be the voiceprint of the storytellers, the author, and/or the modern theologian, if the Jesus story began orally. J. Dewey, same Seminar Papers, “Mark, A Really Good Story,” notes, about form criticism and its assumption of “bits and pieces of oral tradition,” in the Gospels states, “All that we know or can infer about how tradition operates suggests that this assumption of form criticism is wrong, deriving more from the critics’ own immersion in print culture than from how tradition operates.”

    The criterion of dissimilarity, the venerable statute from which springs other criteria, merely points to a Greco-Roman author or common knowledge of that culture, not necessarily the voice print of a Galilean Jew. It tells one that the person who said or wrote it wrote or said something not like the characteristic Palestinian Jew or “early” Christianity, whatever that might have meant.

    None of the above speaks directly to whether there was or wasn’t a historical Jesus. I have my doubts, but those doubts have to do with what I see is the purpose of the Gospel of Mark, the context, and the audience. They seek to answer why the original Gospel was needed. (As far as Q is concerned, after reading the Jesus Seminar, Kloppenborg, Mack, Arnal, and others, I am in the Goodacre, Thompson and Klinghardt camp. Goodacre’s look at the Greek Thomas conforms more or less with Thompson’s, and they are compelling. They make more sense than those of Q and “early” Thomas.)

    I like the last two sentences in Robert Price’s “Deconstructing Jesus”: “Thus it seems to me that Jesus must be categorized with other legendary figures including the Buddha, Krishna, and Lao-tzu. There may have been a real figure there, but there is simply no longer any way of being sure” (p. 261).

  4. Peter Kane says:

    I have been looking at the responses to David’s blog, and thought it might be interesting to take a step back and consider what a myth is, how it gets started. Most of us post enlightenment types would describe myth as an elaborate, if superstitious, way of explaining reality without the benefit of the scientific method, authored out of thin air. A second issue with our understanding of myth is that we overlook that fact that there are different types of myth. There is myth that affirms and undergirds the dominant view of culture, and there is countercultural myth which intends to subvert the dominant culture. Which implies that myth has roots in the cultural history of a people.
    A present day example, Ferguson. Lenore tells me I have been spending way too much time watching the 24 hour news cycles, channel switcher in hand, and truth be told she is correct. But I have just (successfully) completed a chemo series, and napping on the sofa with channel switcher seemed an appropriate mix to me.
    What is happening in Ferguson is dueling myths, with very little actual history to date. The dominant myth is the American dream, the mythical stories of how, if you are decent and work hard and prepare yourself, you will succeed in life and be respected by your neighbors, and quite possibly become both rich and influential in the more elaborate versions. The countercultural myth is called Driving while Black. (Full disclosure – I grew up in a German ethnic community in Wisconsin, was the first in my family to go to college, and only came into contact with black people on the rare occasions we would travel to Milwaukee. On the other hand, my son and grandson are black men, so Driving while Black is for me the most meaningful myth of the two.)
    To date there have been a very few verified historical tidbits in the Ferguson news. Obviously, Michael Brown was shot and killed at a specific time and location, by a specific policeman. We have 3 or so eyewitness accounts which appear to be credible, describing how he died. Unfortunately these witness statements were made to the media, not the circumstances conducive to optimal factualness. And they are used to maximal effect by the Brown family lawyers and others. We can also try to extract a few historical tidbits from the statements of the Ferguson police chief, but that is made difficult by the fact that he also is a very good spinner of myth.
    It is not the case that these two myths were just invented in the past week or so. They have been dueling myths for a long time, but they ended up on a collision course in Ferguson, and that is real history. We may get more precise historical detail on the actual shooting down the road, or not, but the dueling myths will grow and intensify in the coming months all over America, not just Ferguson. How it comes out remains to be seen.
    The dueling myths in the 1st century revolved around lordship. Rome wasn’t all bad, and Augustus was a real person, who was deified, mythologized, in order to further a particular world view of how Rome brought order to a chaotic world. Did Paul and others create a countercultural myth; certainly. But countercultural myths are grounded in history. They don’t get created for fun, out of thin air and superstition. They grow out of experienced history, and they address historical reality. Or else they wouldn’t be remembered.
    The problem with myth in church today is not that it is ‘just myth, not true’. The problem is that the focus has changed from ‘what does the myth mean’ to ‘is the myth scientifically true’. If myth is completely extracted from historical reality it is dangerous, and a thing to be feared, whether we are talking about Ferguson or the Christ myth. That is why there needs to be history in church.

  5. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    I appreciated your post, Peter. My definition of myth is adapted from Dom’s in The Dark Interval. Myth is the way a culture creates its world. It provides a lens that enables the recipient to understand his or her world. After I read the post I went to my bottom garden, did some work, from which sprang this parable, numbered in the volume of “wisdom sayings” I have been composing. (Seneca is recorded as having said, “For a man, however, whose progress is definite, to chase after choice extracts and to prop his weaknes by the best known and the briefest sayings and to depend upon his memory, is disgraceful; it is time for him to lean on himself. He should make up such maxims and not memorize them” (from Epistle 33).

    98. Myth is like the redbud tree. In the bottom garden. It grew taller each year, making a wonderful show of purple blooms in early spring. Behind it, though, were six clumps of blueberries, gangly, ten or more feet high I planted a quarter of a century ago, shaded by the tree and non-productive. They hadn’t produced much since I moved back, eight years ago, but this year they, as my other blueberry patches, were prolific. They needed more sunlight and I needed more blueberries so today I chopped the redbud down, only to find two more very small ones near its base, hundreds of seed pods in its branches. I will transplant the two ‘youngsters’ and scatter the seeds throughout the edges of Hodos, the path through my “garden.” (Now it is time for the author or the reader to allegorize.)

  6. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    The prepositional phrase was supposed to be connected to the first sentence. Some daze my antique eyes don’t work well.

    I live on the side of a ridge. I have three garden areas disconnected by a hundred yards or more, toward the top (very rocky), the middle (from which grows most) and the bottom, the most vulnerable to varmints. It seems I work the hardest in the top and bottom gardens to get the least. Such is life.

  7. Mike Short says:

    Thanks David for sharing this essay. It is good to be in the company of Gene, Dennis, and Peter. We have traveled the Westar path together for years.

    When I was kid, I wanted to be a cowboy. Roy (not Hoover) Rogers and Gene (not Stecher) Autry were my idols. That cowboy, wild west, mythology was attractive and compelling for a young guy in the 50s. I got over it. As a young adult I followed the mythology of Jesus Christ, Son of God, went to church, went to seminary, and taught the mythology. I got over it. As an older adult I have studied the historical Jesus and the many attempts to demythologize the Jesus of the Bible. I have put together and taken apart my personal life philosophy as well as the mythologies I accept as useful. I learned new things and then tested my understandings in the light of these new things. I am, of course, not done yet.

    David writes about the school of Jesus. That is a great model to consider. The body of wisdom that is encompassed in the aphorisms and sayings attributed to HJ is useful even in today’s culture and even if there were no HJ. The kingdom we seek isn’t up there, it is all around us. It is embodied in all these people around us that annoy us so much.

    >Much about Jesus is indeed a myth. Really, much about anybody, including our own selves, is myth.

    Very insightful. I sometimes run into former students who tell me something I said or did in class or relate an exciting incident from the laboratory. I always assume the storyteller has added content over the years. The stories always have a little more “sparkle” to them than I recall.

    >We all want something to believe, and sometimes when what we used to feel certain about become questionable, the reaction is to throw the whole thing out.

    Baby with the bathwater? Its all bathwater. That is a typical reaction. The largest church I served is in this city where we have retired. I pass it several times a week. I refer to it as “the place of my misspent youth.” However, if I had not been there, I would not be here. I am talking about beliefs. My early beliefs have helped to shape my present ones. If we believe what we believed as kids, we have not progressed much. I would be a cowboy.

    • Gene Stecher says:

      Very cool comments, Mike. What I remember about the myth of Roy and Gene was that they were able to shoot the gun out of the bad guy’s hand without causing further injury. Hey, I think that sentence has parable potential.

  8. Gene Stecher says:

    Peter wrote: “The problem is that the focus has changed from ‘what does the myth mean’ to ‘is the myth scientifically true’. If myth is completely extracted from historical reality it is dangerous, and a thing to be feared, whether we are talking about Ferguson or the Christ myth.”

    A lot to chew on, man, a lot to chew on. Perhaps Myth and history are like the memory of a 99 yard touchdown run by Jim Brown against the Eagles in 1961. It never happened, but it always happened.

  9. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    “Historical reality.” I’m not sure that is possible to know, Gene. Even in the JS guide “Finding the Historical Jesus: Rules of Evidence,” Robert Miller notes in the principles of historiography, “A second principle is that there are no absolute certainties in history. Historiography is a rigorous intellectual disciple, but it is not a science…” About his third principle (“all history is reconstruction) he states, “The events of the past are gone forever.”

    Even events we witness in our lifetimes are shuffled through our senses, our perception until they are meaningful to us. (Generally this is done by comparing the unknown to the known, which means that the events are conflated with previous knowledge.) Memory is, for most, not as accurate as we would like to think. When it comes to writing history from ancient texts one is writing from one’s perspective, not that of the subject of the writing. It is subjective from the “get go.” The various “biographies” of Jesus scholars have written are wildly divergent. This speaks quite a bit to their theological bent and their life experiences, not so much to a valid “biography.” Jesus has a “home” in these “biographies,” but it is still a mythical home.

  10. Gene Stecher says:

    I think Embracing the Human Jesus is about the most readable scholarly book I’ve seen. But as brilliantly and persuasively as Dr. Galston writes, he may be slightly off track in overall direction.

    “My deepest gratitude goes to the people of Eternal Spring United Church who became and are now known as the Quest Learning Center for Religious Literacy…I was appointed its leader…The idea of an historical Jesus community was eagerly received only until what the historical meant was understood. Almost immediately people left the community. But a core of people remained…from this core the community developed to take on a new identity. Eventually, the goal was not to be a church but to be a learning center…” (p. ix)

    He further writes on this blog, “…when it becomes clear that the Christ of miracle, mystery, and authority never existed…”

    My earlier question is now answered: the goal is not to take the human Jesus to church but to create a new community/institution. And that’s okay, but let’s not allude to an educational center as a church. We also need to acknowledge that the miracle-mystery-authority Christ exists just as much in the mind and heart of his followers as the wise-historical jesus exists in the mind and heart of David Galston and like-minded followers. Personally, I have little doubt, reflecting on the murderous nature of the human race today and across the centuries that redemption and at-one-ment are as important to humanity as the guidance of wise men and women.

    I also want to say that since David has reinvigorated my memory about the cynics, Diogenes has really become a favorite.

  11. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    I see this new “community/institution” as just another break with traditional Christianity. (In the South Baptists do that all the time, breaking and forming their own groups.) It would appear to be a group for well-educated liberal thinkers. Churches serve a social purpose as much as anything. This is a place for them to go. I don’t see it as making any changes. Evangelical Christians are comfortable where they are. They aren’t to be swayed from their mythical views of heaven and hell…

  12. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Ah, conversation is now limited to 500 chars, enough room (including spaces) for 30 “Hail Westars” and 9 “Hallelujahs.” Building a pedestal for “Jesus the Witty” in church isn’t anything more than a modern “Jesus the God” was or, for that matter, “Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet.” Just more boring. Beliefs are nonessential filler a social event for most.

  13. Cassandra says:

    Just a quick note r.e. the technical difficulties from yesterday. Our developer has been working on the comment section on the website as part of overall improvements to the site, and has just updated the system. Yes, it’s correct that there is a limit of 500 characters. This is to help keep conversations as focused as possible. We are also looking into systems for liking or boosting others’ comments, but that is probably for the distant future due to cost. Thanks, all!

  14. Gene Stecher says:

    Is the following really true?

    (p. 153) “The historical Jesus community exists, though, because the metaphysical ideas inherent in traditional Christianity are no longer tenable. The state of separation from the divine (sin) and the act of the divine breaking into history (the Christ) assumes the ancient universe where gods live upstairs to oversee the woeful history of of human affairs.”

    Why is it correct to make experience captive to a particular metaphysics? No matter what, it’s a…

  15. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Good luck with that one (quote p153). “Untenable?” Nah. Superman, Harry Potter and so forth break the laws of nature all the time. They are big business. I dare say that those who believe the biblical supernatural happened can also quote the sayings and realize Earth isn’t the center of the universe.

  16. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    When one takes the fairy tales away, one is left in a world like “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. (The book carried the theme of Jonah/Jonas, thus had a mythic quality that is lost in the movie, though the movie was also fine. For those completely without imagination but who need a “place” called “church” I guess the community is a place to snooze.

  17. Dennis Dean Carpenter says:

    Cassandra: 500 characters merely means that, instead of commenting on an issue with care, one can merely produce a sound bite, thus my “Hallelujah” comment above. Good for simplistic affirmation, poor for dialogue about a topic. This was supposed to be about “Jesus Myth.” Howcanonebegin thisin3or4sentences?

    • Cassandra says:

      Dennis, I appreciate what you’re saying here. Let’s give it a try for a week or two and then evaluate as a group what wordcount would be most appropriate. I really do want to challenge us to focus our comments to the best of our ability.

      Also, are you getting a warning when you reach the 500-character limit? I’m not seeing one. If not, I’ll address it with the developer.

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