I’ve had a life-long fascination with the origins of Christianity. In the last few years, I’ve been leaning towards the mythicist position particularly after reading books by Richard Carrier and Derek Murphy and listening to podcasts and videos featuring Richard Price. I found Carrier’s premise concerning the likely origins of the Jesus character and his attempt to use Bayesian analysis to estimate the likelihood of an historic figure intriguing. But an episode of a long time favorite podcast several months encouraged me to closely at my position so I turned to Bart Ehrman’s book to provide a counterweight. This is not an academic book, intended to provide a rich bounty of references to look up, but a layman’s explanation of why the large majority of historians who study this topic accept an historical Jesus, albeit one who is far from our modern depiction. I appreciated Ehrman’s explanation and he’s made me think about my position more carefully, especially when considering the Nazareth problem and other arguments in favor of an historical figure (an issue that convinced Christopher Hitchens that Jesus existed). And Ehrman’s final conclusion about the irrelevance of an historical Jesus to modern Christianity made me look at my own motivations in promoting the mythical position. As a past member of a humanist group, I was surprised to read Ehrman’s take on the movement and its adherents, but it’s always healthy to see how others view an organization.
For me, anyone who effectively causes me to reconsider my position on a topic is worthy of recommendation.