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 Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Tue 18 Dec 2012, 14:26

I've just read a very impassioned plea on a website devoted to Elizabeth I that everyone should take every opportunity (when appropriate) to denounce anyone who attempts to keep the rumour alive that Elizabeth was bald. Apparently, the author states, she had enough hair on her head at 60 that she could afford to cut chunks out of it and give the locks as keepsakes to her favourites. I'd like to see Gorbachev try that!


(Elizabth as played by the late Peter Lorre

It's a bit like the old "Hitler and vegetarianism" myth, one that seems simply to be just all the stronger reinforced the more people try to denounce it.

Or Newton's cat flap (as discussed earlier)

Any more?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Tue 18 Dec 2012, 14:31

Re Hitler, is the "one ball" a myth as well?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Tue 18 Dec 2012, 16:07

@Triceratops wrote:
Re Hitler, is the "one ball" a myth as well?

AKAIK It's disputed - he's understood to have suffered a groin injury in 1916, and a (known inaccurate and after partial burning of the corpse) Russian autopsy claimed he was monorchic, his WWI company commander thought he was, but I've yet to see conclusive proof either way - the ball, so to speak, hasn't yet come to rest.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Wed 19 Dec 2012, 12:24

Vikings did not wear horned or winged helmets
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Wed 19 Dec 2012, 14:06

With a height of 5ft 6.5 inches [1.69m] Napoleon was around the average height for his time and place, and not unduly short as is commonly believed.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Wed 19 Dec 2012, 22:22

I have had one my desk for a few weeks now and article from the newsletter of the NZ Federation of Historical Societies talking about this sort of thing. I hadn't got round to putting anything about it here, or finding a place for it. This article arose from a piece in the previous one about facts from the 15th century, specifically one about brides marrying in June because people took an annual bath in May and smelt all right but needed the flowers of June for perfume. We were pointed to Snopes.com for debunking of others.

The article in the September edition was about generalisations of NZ history. They included settlers haveing to bring everything with them - "the ships would not have had the room for the assorted household goods, plus the house."

"It is wrong to suppose that "everyone in the old days" wore black clothing and never smiled, especially when being photographed."

"It is wrong to suppose that sewing machines "were only invented in the 1900s"; that everyone up until the 1940s had to make their own butter; that the Auckland Harbour Bridge, the Sky Tower in Auckland and rugby "has always been there"; that a post-war house filled with antique furniture culled from antique shops does not make it "a historic house", nor does renovating a 1900 house to look like a Victorian villa make it such. In New Zealand we do not have Tudor houses...nor can you have an 'English garden'. If you lived in England then you can."

"A remark that John Logan Campbell had a house at Onehunga at which he kept a slave has to be treated with suspicion. The British Army were known by their individual regimental name, and not as "The Redcoats" which was a colloquial expression among the population."

These strictures are aimed more at family history researchers than the general amateur historian or the general public. But it was only in the last twenty years that I realised how young the population of NZ was in the early days - older photos either make people look old or are taken much later; NZ settlers (and Maori too really) were almost all under 45 when they came to NZ. Shipping lists show the youthfulness of those travelling.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 07:13

And then there was that hunch-backed king.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 12:39

No one of any note was born in Bet Lehem, Palestine, on 25th December (or January 6th, or January 19th) in any year.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 13:45

Surprisingly, there was a Professor of Religious Studies and Hebrew on BBC Five Live this morning, refuting the myths built around Christmas and the existance of Jesus. Brave lady, I'm sure the programme would have been flooded with messages from those not wishing to acknowledge common sense.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 16:06

'Surprisingly, there was a Professor of Religious Studies and Hebrew on BBC Five Live this morning, refuting the myths built around Christmas and the existance of Jesus.'

Just listening to the clip and Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion does not say that Jesus did not exist.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 16:19

Nordman I remember you refering to Prof Bart Ehrman even though you had not actually read him and insisting that he was a Christian even though he inisted that he was not - you obviously considered that you knew him better than himself. Well he brought out a book on the existance of Jesus.

An article about it.

Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier

Richard Carrier is one of the new breed of mythicists. He is trained in ancient history and classics, with a PhD from Columbia University – an impressive credential. In my book Did Jesus Exist I speak of him as a smart scholar with bona fide credentials. I do, of course, heartily disagree with him on issues relating to the historical Jesus, but I have tried to take his views seriously and to give him the respect he deserves.
Carrier, as many of you know, has written a scathing review of Did Jesus Exist on his Freethought Blog. He indicates that my book is “full of errors,” that it “misinforms more than it informs” that it provides “false information” that it is “worse than bad” and that “it officially sucks.” The attacks are sustained throughout his lengthy post, and they often become personal. He indicates that “Ehrman doesn’t actually know what he is talking about,” he claims that I speak with “absurd” hyperbole, that my argument “makes [me] look irresponsible,” that I am guilty of “sloppy work,” that I “misrepresent” my opponents and “misinform the public,” that what I write is “crap,” that I am guilty of “arrogantly dogmatic and irresponsible thinking,” that I am “incompetent,” make “hack” mistakes, and do not “act like a real scholar.”
Most of his review represents an attempt to substantiate these claims. Some readers may find the overblown rhetoric offensive, but I have no interest in engaging in a battle of wits and rhetorical flourishes. I would simply like to see if the charges of my incompetence can be sustained.
Let me say at the outset that I am not perfect, that as a full-blooded human being, I do make mistakes, and that nothing I say is an inerrant revelation from above. I sometimes try to convince my wife otherwise, but, frankly, I’ve made very little headway there. When I do make mistakes, I am not afraid to admit it. I don’t *like* admitting it, but my interest really is in discussing what we can know about history, not in proving that I’m always in the right.
One of the mistakes I make in the book I should state up front, because Carrier found it particularly offensive. I indicated in the book that Carrier’s degree was in Classics. I was wrong about that. His PhD is in Ancient History. I am not sure where I got the wrong impression he was a classicist; I think when I first heard of him I was told that he worked in ancient history and classics, and the “classics” part just stuck with me, possibly because I have always revered the field. In any event, I apologize for the mistake. His degree is in Ancient History, although he is trained as well in classics.
Contrary to what Carrier suggests, this mistake was not some kind of plot on my part, in his words: “a deliberate attempt to diminish my qualifications by misrepresentation.” I frankly don’t know why a classicist is less competent to talk about the ancient world of Rome than an ancient historian is, since most Romanists I know are in fact Classicists; and it seems odd that Carrier wants to insist that he is not “just a classicist.” My classicist friends would probably not appreciate knowing that they were “just” that. But in any event, it was an honest to goodness mistake, for which I apologize.
The bulk of Carrier’s harsh critique involves a set of “Errors of Fact” – including one that I have already dealt with in an earlier post, whether a bronze Priapus that is allegedly in the Vatican (but not actually, as one of the posts on this blog shows) was of Peter. I stated it was not, and Carrier agrees. He mistakenly thought I was arguing that no such statue existed, but that was not my intention or concern. I can see how my wording could be (mis)read that way, however. The other charges against me and my book are more damning – or at least they certainly seem to be on the surface.
I will not answer each and every single point Carrier raises (on this, see my closing comments), but will deal with the most serious ones in which he charges me with scholarly incompetence. I am always happy to answer questions about any of the others, should I be asked.

The Pilate Error
In my book I take the Roman historian Tacitus to task for claiming that Pontius Pilate was a procurator rather than a prefect. The question has little to do with my overall point – that Tacitus is one of the first Roman authors to refer to Jesus – but Carrier takes great offense at my assertion and indicates that it shows that I do not know what I’m talking about. According to Carrier, provincial prefects were often also imperial procurators. He indicates that “recent literature on the subject confirms this, as would any consultation with an expert in Tacitus or Roman imperial administration.”
I have to admit that I was surprised to see this objection – as I had never heard of this before, that procurators could be prefects. I am certainly not an expert on Roman imperial magistrates. But I do try to get my facts straight and work hard to make sure I do not get things like this wrong. But it was news to me. So I decided to look into it. I have acquaintances and colleagues who are among the world’s leading authorities on Roman history. I emailed one of them the following:

My question: The New Testament indicates that Pontius Pilate was a procurator; the inscription discovered in Caesarea Maritima indicate that he was a prefect. Is it possible that he could have been both things at once?

His answer was quick and to the point. I quote: ‘Not really’ has to be the answer to your question, because prefect and procurator are simply two possible titles for the same job. The initial growth of equestrian posts in the emperor’s service was a gradual, haphazard process, and there was little concern to fix titles for them [see, e.g., Talbert's chap. 9 in CAH ed. 2 vol. X]. PP could just as well have had the title procurator, but evidently he didn’t … PIR (ed. 2, 1998) P 815 sums it up neatly: “praeses Iudaeae ordinis equestris usque ad Claudii tempora non procurator, sed praefectus fuit….” [This comes from the Prosopographia Imperii Romani (i.e., The Prosopography of the Roman Empire); I translate the Latin as follows: “Up until the time of Claudius [i.e., 41-54 CE], the provincial governor of Judea, a man of the equestrian order, was not a procurator but a prefect.”].

That would seem to settle it. This email acquaintance of mine is an internationally recognized scholar in the field of Roman history, so I trust his judgment. He asked not to be identified by name, I think because he too does not want to be subject to the kinds of attacks one faces on the Internet no matter what one says and on what grounds or authority. In any event, I think the quotation from PIR sums it up.



The Tacitus Question

While I’m on the Tacitus reference. At one point in my book I indicate that “I don’t know of any trained classicists or scholars of ancient Rome who think” that the reference to Jesus in Tacitus is a forgery (p. 55). Carrier says this is “crap,” “sloppy work,” and “irresponsible,” and indicates that if I had simply checked into the matter, I would see that I’m completely wrong. As evidence he cites Herbert W. Benario, “Recent Work on Tacitus (1964-68) The Classical World 63.8 (April 1970) pp. 253-66, where several scholars allegedly indicate that the passage is forged.
In my defense, I need to stress that my comment had to do with what scholars today are saying about the Tacitus quotation. What I say in the book is that I don’t know of any scholars who think that it is an interpolation, and I don’t. I don’t know if Carrier knows of any or not; the ones he is referring to were writing fifty years ago, and so far as I know, they have no followers among trained experts today. In that connection it is surprising that Carrier does not mention Benario’s more recent discussions, published as “Recent Work on Tacitus: 1969-1973,” “Recent Work on Tacitus: 1974-1983,” “Recent Work on Tacitus: 1984-1993,” “Recent Work on Tacitus: 1994-2003.” Or rather it is not surprising, since the issue appears to have died on the vine (one exception: a brief article in 1974 by L. Rougé). I might also mention that there is indeed a history of the question that goes before the mid-20th century. I first became aware of it from one of the early mythicists, Arthur Drews, whose work, The Christ Myth (1909) raises the possibility. But Drews did not invent the idea; it goes back at least to the end of the 19th century in the work of P. Hochard in 1890, De l’authenticité des Annales et des Histoires de Tacite. I’m not sure if Carrier is familiar with this scholarship or not. But my point is that I was not trying to make a statement about the history of Tacitus scholarship; I was stating what scholars today think.
But Carrier’s objection to my view did take me a bit off guard and make me wonder whether I was missing something, whether there were in fact scholars of Tacitus who continue to think the reference to Jesus was an interpolation in his writings. I am a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, not of Tacitus! And so I asked one of the prominent scholars of the Roman world, James Rives, who happens now to teach at UNC. Anyone who wonders about his credentials can look them up on the web; he’s one of the best known experts on Roman religion (and other things Roman) internationally. He has given me permission to cite him by name, as he is willing to stand by what he says.
My initial email question to him was this:

I’m wondering if there is any dispute, today, over the passage in Annals 15 where he mentions Jesus (whether there is any dispute over its authenticity).

His initial reply was this:
I’ve never come across any dispute about the authenticity of Ann. 15.44; as far as I’m aware, it’s always been accepted as genuine, although of course there are plenty of disputes over Tacitus’ precise meaning, the source of his information, and the nature of the historical events that lie behind it. There are some minor textual issues (the spelling ‘Chrestianos’ vs. ‘Christianos’, e.g.), but there’s not much to be done with them since we here, as everywhere in Tacitus’ major works, effectively depend on a single manuscript.

I then asked him about the article Carrier mentioned with respect to Benario, and this was his reply:
Benario’s article cited below is one of a series he did over a period of decades, in which he summarizes other people’s work on Tacitus; they’re an extremely useful bibliographical resource (although there’s no reason that a non-specialist would be aware of them!). I’ve just checked this particular article, and can only assume that the particular work to which your adversary makes reference is mentioned on p. 264: Charles Saumagne, ‘Tacite et saint Paul’, Revue Historique 232 (1964) 67-110, who according to Benario ‘claims that the Christians are not mentioned in 15.44, that there is an ancient interpolation, taken from book 6 of the Histories, which were written after the Annals, and that Sulpicius Severus was responsible for the transposition’. So I’m wrong that no classicist has argued that the passage is not authentic. Saumagne may not be alone: Benario cites another article on the same page whose author ‘recalls that Christians are not linked with the fire before the time of Sulpicius Severus’. Nevertheless, I would still point out that 1) Saumagne does argue that this is an interpolation, but only from another of Tacitus’ works; 2) the whole thing sounds like a house of cards to me, since Histories Book 6 doesn’t exist and so can’t provide a firm foundation for an argument; 3) this is clearly a minority opinion, since I’ve never encountered it before.

He then pursued the matter further (he’s a *great* colleague!), and wrote me this:

I’ve had a quick look at the two articles in question. Saumagne does think that the text has been interpolated, but also that the reference to Christ being killed under Pontius Pilate comes from a lost portion of Tacitus’ Histories. His argument seems very shaky to me, but in either case it doesn’t affect your own, since Saumagne thinks that Tacitus knew about and referred to Jesus, which is the main thing for you. The other article, by Koestermann (an editor of Tacitus), argues that Tacitus made a mistake in associating the Chrestiani with Christ, but doesn’t say anything about the reference to Christ not having been written by Tacitus himself. There may be scholars who’ve argued that the reference to Christ is a later interpolation into the text, but neither of these two did, and I certainly don’t know of any others.

I think that’s enough to settle it. I really don’t think what I said was “irresponsible,” “sloppy,” or “crap.”

The Dying and Rising God:
In my book I argue that there is very thin evidence indeed for anything like a widespread pagan belief in a dying-rising god, on which Jesus was modeled. In the context of showing the shortcomings of Freke and Gandy’s book The Jesus Mysteries, I make a passing comment on the Egyptian god Osiris, first by asking a series of questions: “What, for example, is the proof that Osiris was born on December 25 before three shepherds? Or that he was crucified? And that his death brought atonement for sin? Or that he returned to life on earth by being raised from the dead? In fact no ancient source says any such thing about Osiris”
Carrier does not seem to disagree with most of this statement, but he takes very serious issue indeed with the claim that Osiris was not raised from the dead to return to life on earth. He indicates that I received this information entirely from an article by Jonathan Z. Smith, and that if I had been “real scholar” I would have looked up the ancient sources themselves. As it is I made a “hack mistake” showing that I was “incompetent.” His counter claim is that “Plutarch attests that Osiris was believed to have died and been returned to earth… and that the did indeed return to earth in his resurrected body.” He gives as his reference Plutarch “On Isis and Osiris,” 19.358b.
Carrier is wrong on all points. I did not get this information just from J. Z. Smith (who, by the way, is one of the most eminent and distinguished historians of religion walking the face of the planet, and certainly no hack) and his charge that I have not behaved as a “real scholar” is completely unfounded. I have read Plutarch’s account of Osiris many times. For years I used this text in the graduate seminars I taught on Graeco-Roman religion. In my reading of the myth of Osiris, he does not rise from the dead back to life here on earth.
One of our principal sources of knowledge of the myth of the gods Isis and Osiris, brother and sister but lovers, is the famous second century pagan philosopher and priest Plutarch. The myth as Plutarch recounts it is not long; most of his treatise De Iside et Osiride consists of a range of ways people had interpreted the myth, in particularly the various allegorical interpretations. A convenient translation of the treatise can be found here: http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Moralia/Isis_and_Osiris*/
I do not need to relate all the details of the myth in this context. Suffice it to say that Osiris is killed by an enemy and hidden away in a chest/coffin that was lost. Isis finally finds it and mourns the loss of her dead lover. But (another) enemy finds the body and does something unspeakable. Here is the passage from Plutarch, in the Babbitt translation of the Loeb Classical Library:

18 As they relate, Isis proceeded to her son Horus, who was being reared in Buto, and bestowed the chest in a place well out of the way; but Typhon, who was hunting by night in the light of the moon, happened upon it. Recognizing the body [of Osiris] he divided it into fourteen parts and scattered them, each in a different place. Isis learned of this and sought for them again, sailing through the swamps in a boat of papyrus. This is the reason why people sailing in such boats are not harmed by the crocodiles, since these creatures in their own way show either their fear or their reverence for the goddess. The traditional result of Osiris’s dismemberment is that there are many so called tombs of Osiris in Egypt; for Isis held a funeral for each part when she had found it. Others deny this and assert that she caused effigies of him to be made and these she distributed among the several cities, pretending that she was giving them his body, in order that he might receive divine honours in a greater number of cities, and also that, if Typhon should succeed in overpowering Horus, he might despair of ever finding the true tomb when so many were pointed out to him, all of them called the tomb of Osiris. Of the parts of Osiris’s body the only one which Isis did not find was the male member, for the reason that this had been at once tossed into the river, and the lepidotus, the sea-bream, and the pike had fed upon it; and it is from these very fishes the Egyptians are most scrupulous in abstaining. But Isis made a replica of the member to take its place, and consecrated the phallus, in honour of which the Egyptians even at the present day celebrate a festival. 19 Later, as they relate, Osiris came to Horus from the other world and exercised and trained him for the battle.

In this telling of the myth – the one the Carrier refers to – Osiris’s body does not come back to life. Quite the contrary, it remains a corpse. There are debates, in fact, over where it is buried, and different locales want to claim the honor of housing it. It is true that Osiris “comes back” to earth to work with his son Horus: ἔπειτα τῷ Ὥρῳ τὸν Ὄσιριν ἐξ Ἅιδου παραγενόμενον. Literally, he came “from Hades.” But this is not a resurrection of his body. His body is still dead. He himself is down in Hades, and can come back up to make an appearance on earth on occasion. This is not like Jesus coming back from the dead, in his body; it is like Samuel in the story of the Witch of Endor, where King Saul brings his shade back to the world of the living temporarily (1 Samuel 28). How do we know Osiris is not raised physically? His body is still a corpse, in a tomb.
Evidence to that comes from various places in the treatise. For example, section 20, 359 E

not the least important suggestion is the opinion held regarding the shrines of Osiris, whose body is said to have been laid in many different places. For they say that Diochites is the name given to a small town, on the ground that it alone contains the true tomb; and that the prosperous and influential men among the Egyptians are mostly buried in Abydos, since it is the object of their ambition to be buried in the same ground with the body of Osiris. In Memphis, however, they say, the Apis is kept, being the image of the soul of Osiris, whose body also lies there. The name of this city some interpret as “the haven of the good” and others as meaning properly the “tomb of Osiris.”

It is his soul that lives on, in the underworld. Not his body in this world. Carrier wants to argue that the body comes back to life, and points to a passage that speaks of its “revivification and regenesis.” But that is taking the Plutarch’s words out of context. Here is the relevant passage:

35 364F-365A Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis ὁμολογεῖ δὲ καὶ τὰ Τιτανικὰ καὶ Νυκτέλια 5 τοῖς λεγομένοις Ὀσίριδος διασπασμοῖς καὶ ταῖς ἀναβιώσεσι καὶ παλιγγενεσίαις. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysus rest with them close beside the oracle;

Note: whatever his revivification involves, it is not a return to his physical body, which remains in a tomb someplace. It is his soul that lives on, as seen, finally in a key passage later:

54 373A It is not, therefore, out of keeping that they have a legend that the soul of Osiris is everlasting and imperishable, but that his body Typhon oftentimes dismembers and causes to disappear, and that Isis wanders hither and yon in her search for it, and fits it together again; for that which really is and is perceptible and good is superior to destruction and change.

Carrier and I could no doubt argue day and night about how to interpret Plutarch. But my views do not rest on having read a single article by Jonathan Z. Smith and a refusal to read the primary sources. As I read them, there is no resurrection of the body of Osiris. And that is the standard view among experts in the field.
The Other Jesus Conundrum
In my discussion of G.A. Wells’s work I have occasion to consider his claim that Paul did not think Jesus was a person who lived just a few years before his conversion, but 150 year or so earlier. In that context I indicate that Paul thought that “the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were recent events.” I go on to “stress that this is the view of all of our sources that deal with the matter at all” (p. 251).
Carrier jumps on this last statement, stating that it “is false” and that by making it I “arrogantly and ignorantly” mislead my readers. As evidence he points out that in the writings of Epiphanius there is reference to a group of Christians who held that Jesus lived in the days of the Jewish king Jannaeus (103-76 BCE), and that this was the view as well in the Jewish writings of the Talmud and the Toledot Yeshu.
In this case Carrier has attacked one of my statements by taking it completely out of its context – as would be clear had he simply quoted my next sentence. After speaking of Paul and the other sources, I say “it is hard to believe that Paul would have such a radically different view from every other Christian of his day, as Wells suggests. That Jesus lived recently is affirmed not only in all four of our canonical Gospels…. It is also the view of all of the Gospel Sources – Q…M, L – and of the non-Christian sources such as Josephus and Tacitus.”
When I refer to “all of our other sources” in the sentence that Carrier attacks, I was referring to the sources I then enumerate, those of “every other Christian of [Paul’s] day.” Iin other words, As a careful reading of this entire section of my book makes crystal clear, in this context I am talking about our earliest sources of information about Jesus: Paul, Q, the Synoptics and their sources, and the non-Christian sources. I am not referring to every source that ever existed at any time whatsoever. Epiphanius, whom Carrier cites as an alternative source, was writing at the end of the fourth Christian century; the Talmud and the Toledot Yeshu were later than that.
Maybe I could have made this a bit more clear by saying that the view I was referring to could be found in “all our sources from Paul’s time and in the decades that followed, not sources written 300 years later that have no bearing on Paul’s thinking.” But frankly, I didn’t think it was necessary since I went on to enumerate the sources that I was referring to. What I meant, of course, was that all of the relevant sources have this view.

“No Roman Records”
In the course of my discussion of Freke and Gandy’s The Jesus Mysteries, I fault them for thinking that since the Romans kept such detailed records of everything (“birth notices, trial records, death certificates”), it is odd indeed that we have no such records from Roman hands about Jesus. My response is that it is a complete myth (in the mythicist sense) that Romans kept detailed records of everything. Carrier vehemently objects that this is altogether false, indicating that in fact we have thousands of such records, and that he has “literally held some for these documents in my very hands.” And he points out that some of them are quoted and cited in ancient books, as when Suetonius refers to the birth records for Caligula.
What Carrier is referring to is principally the documentary papyri discovered in Egypt, which I am in fact very familiar with and some of which I too have held in my hands. Over the years I have frequently referred my PhD students to these important records, and have often perused accounts of them, such as the many volumes of the Oxyrynchus Papyri, in the course of my research. We do indeed have many thousands of such documents – wills, land deeds, birth records, divorce certificates, and on and on — from Egypt.
Several points need to be made about these documentary papyri. First, they are, in fact, largely from Egypt – in no small measure because climactic conditions allow for their preservation there. Second, most of these are not in fact records of Roman officials, but made by indigenous Egyptian writers / scribes. And third, this is not what I was talking about.
In this case the misunderstanding is understandable, but easily explained, and shown by considering my comments in their larger context. My book is about Jesus, a Palestinian Jew of the first century. Throughout this entire book, I was thinking about Jesus, in everything I said. And his environment and context. That is why, as I pointed out in an earlier post, when I was disputing that an bronze ithyphallic rooster represented the disciple Peter, I could say “There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican.” I wasn’t even thinking about whether there was a penis-nosed statue in the museum; I was thinking about whether it had anything to do with Peter. No, it doesn’t. (And it turns out, it is evidently not even in the museum; but I have no first-hand knowledge of that one way or the other.)
When I denied that we had Roman records of much of anything, or any indication that there ever were Roman records of anything, I was thinking of Palestine. That becomes clear in my other later reference to the matter where I explain in detail what I was thinking, and that Carrier, understandably, chose not to quote in full: “I should reiterate that it is a complete “myth” (in the mythicist sense) that Romans kept detailed records of everything and that as a result we are inordinately well informed about the world of Roman Palestine [Note: I’m talking about Palestine] and should expect then to hear about Jesus if he really lived. If Romans kept such records, where are they? We certainly don’t have any. Think of everything we do not know about the reign of Pontius Pilate as governor of Judea…” (p. 44)
I go on to detail what we have no record of about Pilate from Roman records: “his major accomplishments, his daily itinerary, the decrees he passed, the laws he issued, the prisoners he put on trial, the death warrants he signed, his scandals, his interview, his judicial proceedings.” In talking about Roman records, I am talking about the Roman records we are interested in: the ones related to the time and place where Jesus lived, first-century Palestine. It’s a myth that we have or that we could expect to have detailed records from Roman officials about everything that was happening there, so that if Jesus really lived, we would have some indication of it. Quite the contrary, we precisely don’t have Roman records – of much of anything – from there.
We do indeed have lots of records from someplace else that doesn’t matter for the question I’m interested in (Egypt; even though even there most of the records are not Roman or from Roman officials). I can see how my first statement on the matter could be construed (without my fuller explanation of what I meant some pages later) and how it could be read as flat-out error. But yes, I do indeed know about our documentary papyri. A better way for me to have said it is that we do have records for other places – at least Egypt – but it’s a complete myth that we have them, or should expect to have them, for the time and place Jesus lived.

The Doherty “Slander”
Carrier finds fault with my claim, about Earl Doherty, that he “quotes professional scholars at length when their view prove useful for developing aspects of his argument, but he fails to point out that not a single one of these scholars agrees with his overarching thesis” (p. 252). He points out that Doherty does in fact indicate, in various places throughout his book, that the argument he is advancing at that point is not accepted by other scholars. As a result, Carrier states, my claim is nothing but “falsified propaganda.”
I am afraid that in this case Carrier misses my point. It is true that Doherty acknowledges that scholars disagree with him on this, that, or the other thing. But the way he builds his arguments typically makes it appear that he is writing as a scholar among scholars, and that all of these scholars (with him in the mix) have disagreements on various issues (disagreements with him, with one another). One is left with the impression that like these other scholars, Doherty is building a tenable case that some points of which would be granted by some scholars but not others, and that the entire overall thesis, therefore, would also be acceptable to at least some of the scholars he engages with.
The reality, however, is that every single scholar of early Christianity that Doherty appeals to fundamentally disagrees with his major thesis (Jesus did not exist). This is completely unlike other works of true scholarship, where scholars are cited as having disagreements on various points – but not, universally, as an entire body, on the entire premise and virtually all the claims (foundation and superstructure). I was urging that Doherty should come clean and inform his readers in clear terms that even though he quotes scholars on one issue or another, not a single one of these scholars (or indeed, any recognized scholar in the field of scholarship that he is addressing) agrees with the radical thesis of his book.
This criticism of Doherty applies not just to his overall argument but to his argument in the details, at the micro level. The way Doherty uses scholars is just not scholarly, since he often gives the impression that the scholars he quotes agree with him on a point when they expressly do not. Just to give a typical example: at one place in my book I discuss Doherty’s claim that Jesus was not crucified here on earth by Romans, but in the spiritual realm by demonic powers (p. 252). In his book Jesus: Neither God Nor Man Doherty quotes New Testament scholar Morna Hooker in support of his view. In the sentence before he introduces her, he says: “this self-sacrificing divinity (who operates in the celestial spheres, not on earth) is a paradigm for believers on earth” (p. 104). In other words, Christ was sacrificed in heaven, not on earth. Then he quotes Hooker: “Christ becomes what we are (likeness of human flesh, suffering and death), so enabling us to become what he is (exalted to the heights).” Here he cites Hooker to support his claim that Christ was paradigmatic for his followers (a fairly uncontroversial claim), but he does not acknowledge that when she says Christ became “what we are (likeness of human flesh)” she is referring to Christ becoming a human being in flesh on earth – precisely the view he rejects. Hooker’s argument, then, which he quotes in favor of his view, flat-out contradicts his view.
In short, I am not denying that Doherty sometimes acknowledges that scholars disagree with him; I am saying that he quotes them as though they support his views without acknowledging that in fact they do not.

The Pliny Confusion
Carrier indicates that he almost fell out of his chair when he read my discussion of the letters of Pliny. Sorry about that! He points out that when I talk about letter 10, I really meant Book 10; and when I summarize the letter involving Christians, I provide information that is not found in the letter but is assumed by scholars to apply to the letter based on another letter in Book 10.
To the first charge I plead guilty. Yes, when I said letter 10 I meant a letter in book 10. This is what you might call a real howler, a cock-up (not in the Peter sense). I meant Book 10. This is the kind of mistake I’m prone to make (I’ve made it before and will probably make it again), that I should have caught. A more generous reader would have simply said “Ehrman, you say letter 10 but you mean a letter in book 10,” and left it at that. Carrier takes it to mean that I’m an idiot and that I’ve never read the letters of Pliny.
I may have moments of idiocy, but I have indeed read the letters of Pliny, especially those of Book 10. I’ve taught them for years. When he accuses me of not knowing the difference between a fact and a hypothetical reconstruction, though, he is going too far. I do indeed know that the context scholars have reconstructed for the “Christian problem” is the broader problem outlined elsewhere in Pliny’s correspondence with Trajan. The problem here is simply that I was trying to summarize briefly a complicated account in simple terms for readers who frankly, in my opinion (right or wrong) are not interested in the details about Pliny, Trajan, provincial disorder, and fire brigaids when the question is whether Pliny knows about Jesus or not.
This relates to a bigger problem. Carrier seems to expect Did Jesus Exist to be a work of scholarship written for scholars in the academy and with extensive engagement with scholarship, rather than what it is, a popular book written for a broad audience. There is a big difference. I write both kinds of books. My scholarly books would never be mistaken for books that would be read by a wide, general public. But Carrier indicates that the inadequacy of Did Jesus Exist can be seen by comparing it to two of his own recent books, which, he tells us, pay more attention to detail, embrace a more diverse range of scholarship, and have many more footnotes.
I did not write this book for scholars. I wrote if for lay people who are interested in a broad, interesting, and very important question. Did Jesus really exist? I was not arguing the case for scholars, because scholars already know the answer to that question. I was explaining to the non-scholar why scholars think what they do. A non-scholarly book tries to explain things in simple terms, and to do so without the clutter of detail that you would find in a work of scholarship. The book should not be faulted for that. If I had wanted to convince scholars (I’m not sure whom I would then be writing for, in that case) I would have written a different kind of book

Conclusion
I have not dealt with all the myriad of things that Carrier has to say – most of them unpleasant – about my book. But I have tried to say enough, at least, to counter his charges that I am an incompetent pseudo-scholar. I try to approach my work with honesty and scholarly integrity, and would like to be accorded treatment earned by someone who has devoted his entire life to advancing scholarship and to making scholarship more widely available to the reading public.
I am absolutely positive that Carrier and his supporters will write response after response to my comments here, digging deeper and deeper to show that I am incompetent. They will expect replies, so that then they can write yet more comments, to which they will expect more replies, so that they can write more comments. I am finding, now that I am becoming active on the Internet, that engaging in discussion here can mean entering into a black hole: there is no way out once you hit the event horizon. Many critics of my work have boundless energy and, seemingly, endless time. I myself have lots of energy, but not lots of time. I have had my say now, in an attempt to show my scholarly competence. I do not plan on pursuing the matter time and time again in this medium. My main energies – and my limited time – need to be devoted to the two ultimate goals of my career: to advance scholarship among scholars and to explain scholarship to popular audiences. That requires me to write books, and that takes massive amounts of time. That is where I will be putting the bulk of my energies, not to writing lengthy responses defending myself against unfounded charges of incompetence.
I close by quoting a passage that Carrier himself wrote in one of his earlier books, as provided to me by a sympathetic reader. In the Introduction of his book Sense and Goodness Without God (pp. 5-6), Carrier makes the following plea:

“For all readers, I ask that my work be approached with the same intellectual charity you would expect from anyone else…. [O]rdinary language is necessarily ambiguous and open to many different interpretations. If what I say anywhere in this book appears to contradict, directly or indirectly, something else I say here, the principle of interpretive charity should be applied: assume you are misreading the meaning of what I said in each or either case. Whatever interpretation would eliminate the contradiction and produce agreement is probably correct. So you are encouraged in every problem that may trouble you to find that interpretation. If all attempts at this fail, and you cannot but see a contradiction remaining, you should write to me about this at once, for the manner of my expression may need expansion or correction in a future edition to remove the difficulty, or I might really have goofed up and need to correct a mistake.”

I like very much the idea of “intellectual charity,” and I think that it is a good idea to contact an author about problems that might be detected in her or his writing. I wish Carrier had followed his own advice and contacted me, in fact, rather than publish such a negative and uncharitable review. But I do hope, at least, that fair minded readers will see be open to the arguments that I make and the evidence that I adduce in Did Jesus Exist, and realize that they are the views, in popular form, of serious scholarship. They are not only serious scholarly views, they are the views held by virtually every serious scholar in the field of early Christian studies.

regards

Tim
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 16:21

Sorry posted wrong piece. That was a reply from Ehrman to Richard Carrier

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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 16:21

This is the review

So, did Jesus really exist? With his new book, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, Bart Ehrman, historian and professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, wanted to provide solid historical evidence for the existence of Jesus.
"I wanted to approach this question as an historian to see whether that's right or not," Ehrman tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
The answer is straightforward and widely accepted among scholars of all faiths, but Ehrman says there is a large contingent of people claiming that Jesus never did exist. These people are also known as mythicists.
"It was a surprise to me to see how influential these mythicists are," Ehrman says. "Historically, they've been significant and in the Soviet Union, in fact, the mythicist view was the dominant view, and even today, in some parts of the West – in parts of Scandinavia — it is a dominant view that Jesus never existed," he says.
Mythicists' arguments are fairly plausible, Ehrman says. According to them, Jesus was never mentioned in any Roman sources and there is no archeological evidence that Jesus ever existed. Even Christian sources are problematic – the Gospels come long after Jesus' death, written by people who never saw the man.
"Most importantly," he explains, "these mythicists point out that there are Pagan gods who were said to die and rise again and so the idea is that Jesus was made up as a Jewish god who died and rose again."
In his book, Ehrman marshals all of the evidence proving the existence of Jesus, including the writings of the apostle Paul.
"Paul knew Jesus' brother, James, and he knew his closest disciple, Peter, and he tells us that he did," Ehrman says. "If Jesus didn't exist, you would think his brother would know about it, so I think Paul is probably pretty good evidence that Jesus at least existed," he says.
In Did Jesus Exist?, Ehrman builds a technical argument and shows that one of the reasons for knowing that Jesus existed is that if someone invented Jesus, they would not have created a messiah who was so easily overcome.
"The Messiah was supposed to overthrow the enemies – and so if you're going to make up a messiah, you'd make up a powerful messiah," he says. "You wouldn't make up somebody who was humiliated, tortured and the killed by the enemies."
So Jesus did exist, but who was he? Ehrman says when historians focus on the life of Jesus, they discover a Jesus who is completely different from the one portrayed by popular culture or by religious texts.
"The mythicists have some right things to say," Ehrman says. "The Gospels do portray Jesus in ways that are non-historical."
When Raz asks Ehrman about his relationship to Jesus, Ehrman says that most of it is very historical but that Jesus teaches us valuable lessons.
"Jesus' teachings of love, and mercy and forgiveness, I think, really should dominate our lives," he says. "On the personal level, I agree with many of the ethical teachings of Jesus and I try to model my life on them, even though I don't agree with the apocalyptic framework in which they were put."
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 16:24

A Myth definately worth punturing is that Jesus did not exist, 'a myth' held by people on websites such as this who have rarely studied the evidence but, almost without exception, not held at an academic level.

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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 17:04

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
'Surprisingly, there was a Professor of Religious Studies and Hebrew on BBC Five Live this morning, refuting the myths built around Christmas and the existance of Jesus.'

Just listening to the clip and Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Religion does not say that Jesus did not exist.

I didn't say she did. I said she refuted myths built around the subject, read it again.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 21:15

All I said was that no one of any note was born in Bet Lehem on December 25th (or January 6th or 19th) in any year, at least that we know of.


Napoleon's infamous directive to Josephine that she not wash for a few weeks prior to his return from campaigning is a myth which can be traced back to as recent as 1983 when it was first mentioned (without any citation) in an Irving Wallace almanac "The Book Of Lists".
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Thu 20 Dec 2012, 22:53

This morning when talking about Mayans the report said they were the subject of myths, not least that they had been wiped out a thousand years ago - they said there are still descendants of the original Mayans around.

This is similar to ideas around the Moriori in NZ, often considered to have been exterminated by Maori, even though Moriori are Maori and there are still people with Moriori blood around. The last full-blooded Moriori died in 1933; I don't know when the last full-blooded Maori of other tribes died, but there are no full-blooded Maori around either (at least so everyone says - I don't quite know how they know).
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Fri 21 Dec 2012, 07:49

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
"Jesus' teachings of love, and mercy and forgiveness, I think, really should dominate our lives," he says. "On the personal level, I agree with many of the ethical teachings of Jesus and I try to model my life on them, even though I don't agree with the apocalyptic framework in which they were put."

Well, whatever their origin, I don't think many people would disagree with the teachings of the Gospels - would they? I think that's what Elizabeth I (who may or may not have been bald) meant when she said of the Christ (who may or may not have existed): "There is only one Jesus Christ, and all the rest is a dispute over trifles."

Anne Boleyn did not have six fingers and a huge witchy wart.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 08:21

Islanddawn

You wrote

'Surprisingly, there was a Professor of Religious Studies and Hebrew on BBC Five Live this morning, refuting the myths built around Christmas and the existance of Jesus.'

Now you say

'I didn't say she did. I said she refuted myths built around the subject, read it again.'

i have read it agin and you did. You obviosly need to be clearly on what you write when even you cannot seem to undertsnad what you have written.

quote "and the existance of Jesus".
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 09:40

Speaking of Anne Boleyn; Elizabeth did not ban mention of her mother's name while queen and nor did she refrain from ever uttering it, as has often been alleged. She in fact had a ring made for herself with her mother's name inscribed on it and which she valued very highly for the rest of her life.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 13:01

@Tim of Aclea wrote:
Islanddawn

You wrote

'Surprisingly, there was a Professor of Religious Studies and Hebrew on BBC Five Live this morning, refuting the myths built around Christmas and the existance of Jesus.'

Now you say

'I didn't say she did. I said she refuted myths built around the subject, read it again.'

i have read it agin and you did. You obviosly need to be clearly on what you write when even you cannot seem to undertsnad what you have written.

quote "and the existance of Jesus".

Rather pompous to presume to tell another person their own meanings and that they are lying if that meaning differs from your own interpretation of it, isn't it?

Yes indeedy this is what I said, refuting the myths built around Xmas and the existance of Jesus, or in other words the myths built around Xmas and the life of Jesus. It is NOT saying that Jesus did not exist, nor is it saying F. Stavrakopolou said he did not exist, in fact, it says the very opposite.

You are reading only that which you wish to read, if you can misinterpret such a simple sentence one is only left to wonder at what else you have misinterpreted.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 13:59

You did not say 'refuting the myths built around Xmas and the life of Jesus' what you said was 'refuting the myths built around Xmas and the existance of Jesus'.

There is nothing pompous in pointing out that you are trying to wriggle out of what was clearly an incorrect claim.

Perhaps you will be more careful what you write next time.


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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 14:02

By the way, other than the birth of Jesus, what 'myths about the life of Jesus' did she refute? Her comments on the birth accounts in Matthew and Luke are nothing new.

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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 15:47

Now you are drifing into the realms of the plain silly Tim, rather than admit that you have made a mistake.

The last time I looked existance and life mean the same thing. Unless you have access to a dictionary that none of us mere mortals have at our disposal?

But enough, the problem is yours if you cannot comprehend a very simple sentence, not mine.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 19:55

ID, generally if people talk about the life of Jesus (or anyone) they are talking about what happened during their life; if they talk about the existence of someone they mean whether they lived or not. (Especially in the phrase the 'myth of his existence'. The words aren't automatically identical in meaning.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 20:32

And sticking with Elizabeth, there is absolutely no reason to believe that Sir Walter Raleigh ever laid his cloak over a puddle so the queen could avoid getting her shoes or skirt wet.

The story apears to have popped up first in an 18th century "life" of Raleigh (which also alleged that he was the father of modern history writing).
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 21:01

Why are these stories manufactured so much later than the events? It's not hard to understand some building up of people in or near their lifetime, or interesting stories invented or exaggerated then. But why do odd little elements which don't seem to have previous mention come about? Are they misreadings of primary sources, or just titivations for a good story or some attempt to make their subject more interesting? Sometimes there may be assumptions from other information, I suppose. A wig may presume a bald head.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sat 22 Dec 2012, 21:15

Loads of reasons - though mostly simple misattribution I would say, whether intended or accidental. A bit like ascribing the term "Survival of the Fittest" to Charles Darwin (totally wrong man) or the phrase "Religion is the Opium of the Masses" to Karl Marx (totally wrong inference after a change of words and excising it from its original context). Hitler being alleged to have danced a jig (on newsreel no less) after the fall of France is another one that I can think of. All attempts to insinuate a man's character through words or deeds that he never said or did. In the above cases the effect was negative, Raleigh had achieved a very romantic status by the 18th century and his poetry was back in vogue. His misattributions tended therefore to be on the positive side.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sun 23 Dec 2012, 02:27

@Caro wrote:
ID, generally if people talk about the life of Jesus (or anyone) they are talking about what happened during their life; if they talk about the existence of someone they mean whether they lived or not. (Especially in the phrase the 'myth of his existence'. The words aren't automatically identical in meaning.

And generally if someone explains (more than once) that that was not their meaning they are not called a liar either Caro, but there you go christian charity at it's best.

I didn't say 'myth of his existence' I said 'myth built around Christmas and the existence of'. And the words do mean the same, only the structure can change the meaning slightly, which I was careful to avoid. One can only conclude that people will ever see that which they wish to see, which is hardly surprising in this case.

ex·is·tence (g-zstns)
n.
1. The fact or state of existing; being.
2. The fact or state of continued being; life: our brief existence on Earth.
3.
a. All that exists: sang the beauty of all existence.
b. A thing that exists; an entity.
4. A mode or manner of existing: scratched out a meager existence.
5. Specific presence; occurrence: The Geiger counter indicated the existence of radioactivity.

life (lf)
n. pl. lives (lvz)
1.
a.
The property or quality that distinguishes living organisms from dead
organisms and inanimate matter, manifested in functions such as
metabolism, growth, reproduction, and response to stimuli or adaptation
to the environment originating from within the organism.
b. The characteristic state or condition of a living organism.
2. Living organisms considered as a group: plant life; marine life.
3. A living being, especially a person: an earthquake that claimed hundreds of lives.
4. The physical, mental, and spiritual experiences that constitute existence: the artistic life of a writer.
5.
a. The interval of time between birth and death: She led a good, long life.
b. The interval of time between one's birth and the present: has had hay fever all his life.
c. A particular segment of one's life: my adolescent life.
d. The period from an occurrence until death: elected for life; paralyzed for life.
e. Slang A sentence of imprisonment lasting till death.
6. The time for which something exists or functions: the useful life of a car.
7. A spiritual state regarded as a transcending of corporeal death.
8. An account of a person's life; a biography.
9. Human existence, relationships, or activity in general: real life; everyday life.
10.
a. A manner of living: led a hard life.
b. A specific, characteristic manner of existence. Used of inanimate objects: "Great institutions seem to have a life of their own, independent of those who run them" (New Republic).
c. The activities and interests of a particular area or realm: musical life in New York.
11.
a. A source of vitality; an animating force: She's the life of the show.
b. Liveliness or vitality; animation: a face that is full of life.
12.
a. Something that actually exists regarded as a subject for an artist: painted from life.
b. Actual environment or reality; nature.
adj.
1. Of or relating to animate existence; involved in or necessary for living: life processes.
2. Continuing for a lifetime; lifelong: life partner; life imprisonment.
3. Using a living model as a subject for an artist: a life sculpture.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sun 23 Dec 2012, 14:14

"The Existence of Brian" doesn't sound quite right to me: there is a gloominess in such a title that suggests the work could be the morbid outpourings of some depressed German (or possibly French) intellectual.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sun 13 Jan 2013, 17:48

Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas. No he didn't. The Puritan-dominated Parliament began a campaign to suppress the traditional celebrations of Christmas (or "Christ-tide" as they preferred to call it, "Christmas" having - to them - uncomfortable Catholic connotations) during the reign of Charles I. Cromwell, still a politically obscure figure at the time, would have had little if any impact on that. Although the 'ban' continued throughout the Civil Wars and Protectorate, it was the business of Parliament (which during the Protectorate was dominated by hardline Presbyterians, rather than the more moderate Independents like the Lord Protector). Cromwell had no legal authority in religious matters. His own views are unclear; he probably disapproved of Christmas celebrations, and would have wished them to be excluded from the national Church, but it's questionable as to whether he was concerned with how people did (or didn't) celebrate the festival privately.

At Culloden the English crushed the Scots: At Culloden a Government army which counted large numbers of Scotsmen amongst its troops defeated a force of Jacobites containing Irish and French elements as well as Scots, which was supported by a fairly small percentage of Scottish people. In fact it has been said (I can't vouch for the truth of this) that there were more Scots fighting on the Government side than there were with the Jacobites!

The longbow was Welsh: This is something I've seen cropping up more often recently; in fact the longbow (more commonly known in the Middle Ages as the War Bow or Livery Bow) was English, using yew wood (usually Italian, but French or Spanish where available). Although large numbers of Welsh archers were employed by the English, their native bow was shorter and usually made from elm. And on a related note...

Many English churchyards have yews growing in them so they could be used to make bows: On the contrary, it was illegal to make war bows out of English yew trees, since the quality of the wood was so poor. The prominence of yew trees in churchyards has never been fully explained; ancient pagan practices have been suggested (without proof); the red heartwood and white sapwood represent the blood and body of Christ; the poisonous yew kept farm animals out... the list goes on!
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Sun 14 Dec 2014, 13:03

Lady Godiva rode naked through Coventry in support of its citizens upon whom an unfair tax had been levied by her husband Leofric; Such a great story, and as legend it has a long history, in many ways pre-dating Godiva herself if, as is also believed, it contains all the crucial ingredients of the most ancient May Queen legends of rural England.

The version we all know was recorded first by Roger of Wendover in his "Flores Historiarum" 200 years after her life (the name of his book is itself a clue to the historicity of its contents). However we have good reason to believe that Roger did not "invent" the anecdote but instead simply noted down a story to which many Coventry contemporaries of his day subscribed. And this is what rescues the story from mere apocrypha - it was obvious that Godgyfu (God's Gift) had indeed already gone down in local history as a friend and champion of the "common peasant".

This can in fact be made to square with the little we do know about the real Godgyfu, or at least can surmise from the records. Both she and Leofric in fact were generous sponsors of charitable institutions in the area, their grants of lands including that which would become the abbey whose church and grounds would later meet such a terrible fate at the hands of German bombers, St Michael's. If the name in the extant records represent the same lady then she lived a long life (Leofric was her second husband and she outlived him too), one that saw the Norman conquest in which so much Saxon property was confiscated and handed over to the new ruler's favourites. Yet Godgyfu appears to have retained her property (including the city of Coventry itself) until her death in and around 1086 - a testimony perhaps to her popularity or indeed to her political acumen. Either way both the truth and the legend appear to indicate a woman of highly and widely respected integrity and empathy for her fellow Warwickians. One cannot help but feel that Coventry City football club might have been spared some of their most recent tribulations had she been around today to do a Delia Smith for them.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Mon 15 Dec 2014, 23:07

Possibly,she, as a woman, was not seen as a threat to the New Order, so could be left in possession for her lifetime?
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Tue 16 Dec 2014, 08:29

Yes, and there appears to have been a deal done in the sense that her property after death did not remain in her family but was dished out to various cronies of the Bastard and Rufus.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Wed 18 Feb 2015, 11:30

... that without the Apollo space program we would never have had Teflon or Velcro.

But PTFE was accidentally discovered in 1938, was being marketed under the tradename 'Teflon' in 1945, and the first non-stick 'Tefal' pans went on sale in 1961. Similarly the idea for 'Velcro' was invented in 1948, patented in 1955, and was on sale as a fastener by 1958.
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Mon 08 Jun 2015, 12:11

The 1961 "Happy Pan!"



1961 also saw Black & Decker introduce the world's first cordless power tool, another invention falsely attributed to the Apollo program. The confusion arises due to Black & Decker (thanks to this pioneering competency in the field) being asked by NASA to design a cordless drill capable of boring holes in stone for use on the moon (high torque capability with minimum energy expenditure).


The 1961 model


The 1969 model (lunar style)
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Fri 12 Jun 2015, 14:01

Admiral Yamamoto's quote from the film Tora, Tora, Tora

"I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve."

However there is no evidence that he actually said this
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PostSubject: Re: Elizabeth Wasn't Bald (and other myths worth puncturing)   Fri 12 Jun 2015, 21:24

Bit like Dr Spooner - even the best attested "Cinkering Kongs" is of doubtful authenticity.
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