Robert M. Price
Robert M. Price holds a PhD in systematic theology from Drew University (1981) and a PhD in New Testament from Drew (1993). He is the author of around 20 books, including three that have been published by Tellectual Press: Evolving out of Eden, Moses and Minimalism, and Blaming Jesus for Jehovah.
One of the signature issues of Bob’s scholarship is the question of a historical Jesus. Two of his books on that topic are The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man and Jesus is Dead.
His scripture and theology titles include Inerrant the Wind and The Amazing Colossal Apostle. He’s also written rebuttals to a couple of apologetic books. The Case Against The Case for Christ is a response to Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, and The Reason Driven Life addresses the “What am I here for?” existential questions for which Rick Warren appeals to faith in The Purpose Driven Life.
A Reason Driven Life
Bob’s alternative to Warren’s bestseller has the eminent advantage of making good sense while still singing with inspiration on seemingly every page. Here are a couple of quotes that capture not just the powerful wisdom and good humor of the book, but also that of its author:
[I]f you think about it even for a few seconds, it becomes apparent that there is no aspect of the life of mortal men and women that make sense if you try to stretch it out into an unlimited eternity. Will you be joyfully reunited with your family? Uh, how far back? Will you gladly greet Uncle Zeke from the Civil War? Aunt Maimie from the colonies? Uncle Alley-Oop from the Cro-Magnon Cave civilization? That sounds like a lot of fun: being stuck at an eternal family reunion with plenty of folks you have never met and with whom you have nothing in common, not even language. (But, then, I guess we’d have telepathy. Sure, why not?) [p. 58]
[T]heology winds up with a God who thunders in his petty irritation against helpless, hapless mortals, reducing them to masochistic servitude if they hope to escape the ultimate doom of eternal torture. [p. 87]
[O]ne cannot possess the beauty of the landscape. And one soon forgets the self, lost in wonder. Prevented from possessing, the ego withers away for the moment, and the beauty shines unobstructed. [p. 141]
If Jesus was anything, he was an independent thinker with daring and courage to defy the status quo. We simply cannot imagine him as the first evangelical Christian, taking orders from God as he studied his Pocket Torah Promise Book. So how dare we think we are being Christlike when we strive to be obedient sheep? If we are to emulate Jesus, we must go our own way, not his way, because that’s what he did! I ask you again: have you accepted yourself as your personal savior? [p. 302]
Bob Blogging Bluntly
Bob is also host of The Bible Geek and The Human Bible podcasts. (Almost) entirely separate from matters biblical, he nurtures an inordinate fascination with a certain early twentieth-century horror fiction author by editing the Crypt of Cthulhu journal and anthologies of Cthulhu mythos writings,1 and by attending Lovecraft conferences. His official page is at robertmprice.mindvendor.com.
Just reading his blog there could occupy you for hours. It illustrates the depth of his thinking as well as a good deal of courage to express it, without beating around the bush. What you read from Bob is what he thinks, no holds barred.2 This occasionally exasperates his fans when he ventures into matters political, because unlike almost all of them, he is unapologetically conservative.
It’s a marked contrast to the timid appeasements and euphemisms that all too often pass for public discourse in a world cowed by jihadists at one extreme and a hypersensitive victim-industrial complex at the other. And yet you will find no petty nastiness in his criticisms, however frank and barbed they might be to convey his honest points. The “biblical passage that has long shaped my approach to life,” he says, is Proverbs 15:1: “A soft answer turneth away wrath”:
I hate needless friction and conflict with others. I much prefer to get along with people, not to antagonize them with caustic comments or stinging responses. Otherwise, you’re just “putting out the fire with gasoline.” I always look to say the reconciling, tactful word. I have to be honest. I don’t butter people up. I sure don’t mind being scathing in my responses to bad apologetics arguments. But I try not to make it personal. I’d prefer to keep things respectful and friendly.3
In addition to all this, Bob has contributed to Bible scholarship with a translation of it, or at least the second part. The Pre-Nicene New Testament published by Signature Books, includes the 27 canonical books of the New Testament plus other works that had been considered important to Christians before the Council of Nicea.4
Setting aside the obviously faith-based claim that Jesus was the Son of God (and even the writer of Mark didn’t seem too sure about that), did such a person even exist? Or, as Bob believes, was Jesus a mythical figure constructed in hindsight based on archetypes borrowed from the other hero savior and dying-and-rising god cults of that time and place? This Christ Myth viewpoint he holds not “as a dogma” but merely as his “best reading of the evidence.”5
Bob’s research on the historical Jesus (or lack of one) is not motivated by a desire to debunk the figure revered by over two billion Christians, but the honest result of his attempts to vindicate him. The historical arguments on Jesus’ behalf he ultimately found “bitterly disappointing and entirely unpersuasive.” He has “come to think it likely that the Jesus character emerged from the prevalent redeemer myths of the Mediterranean world, perhaps from the ancient cult of Yahweh himself as a dying and rising god like Marduk. And there’s no telling when that would have happened.”6
A newer translation he’s done, focused on just the 27 canonical New Testament books, is The Human Bible New Testament, published by American Atheist Press. ←
“Myth, Method, and the Will to Believe,” speech presented by Robert M. Price to the Warren Christian Apologetics Center in 2013. This and the following paragraph are adapted from Ed Suominen’s blog post of the same title at blog.edsuom.com/2013/06/myth-method-and-will-to-believe.html. ←