Continuing Observations on Casey’s “Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths”

mythicistI have mentioned this excellent book a number of times and have described it in positive terms.  I still hold to those previously offered assessments but there is one problem with the volume that necessitates, in the spirit of scholarly honesty, a comment.

My point of disagreement lies in Maurice’s description of the work of Emanuel Pfoh, on page 22.  Two things stand out-

First, Casey describes Pfoh as a ‘…follower of Thompson who imagines that only ‘theological necessity’ gives anyone a reason for believing in the historical Jesus.

I’m not sure ‘follower’ is the proper term to describe Pfoh’s relationship with Thompson.  Friend, to be sure, follower?  I’m not convinced that’s the case.  Pfoh’s interest lies particularly in the area of social history rather than New Testament research and his interest in Jesus stems from that wider interest.  He comes at Jesus, then, as a social historian.  It is not, therefore, inappropriate for him to highlight the theological importance of belief in Jesus since from the point of view of a social historian, that is the root of the issue.

Casey then makes mention of Pfoh’s rather playful if not sardonic remark (in his essay in the Thompson/ Verenna ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’s Son’ volume) that he has never ‘read NT Wright’.  At this point I think Casey has simply exaggerated the importance of that toss off remark.  Casey writes that this remark ‘… puts the determined ignorance of mythicists in a nutshell‘ (emphasis Casey’s).

Pfoh is not a mythicist.  Pure and simple.  The fact that he had an essay in the Thompson / Verenna volume is no more an indication of mythicist tendencies in him than it is in me- as I too have an essay in that collection.

Consequently, if I were to find any fault with Casey’s book it would be here at this juncture.  Otherwise, as I’ve said many times, it is an exceptional and essential volume.  I’ll have still more to say of it as the weeks pass.  More anon.