New August course – Questioning or Defending the Historicity of Jesus – with Dr. Richard Carrier

Richard Carrier’s new book On the Historicity of Jesus will soon be available, and this August course is your opportunity to explore its controversial stances on Jesus.

Description: This course discusses the best arguments for and against the historical existence of Jesus (as the putative founder of Christianity), and we will proceed step-by-step through ways to approach them and evaluate them. Working from the first peer reviewed academic book arguing Jesus might not have existed, taught by the author himself, you will learn how to distinguish good arguments from bad, and about the background and context of the origins of Christianity as a whole. This is the best opportunity to ask Dr. Carrier, who holds a PhD in ancient history from Columbia University, all your questions about his controversial research and the historical(?) figure of Jesus. Main issues to cover: understanding the complex background to the origins of Christianity (unit 1, OHJ chs. 4, 5, & 7); comparing the competing theories of how and why Christianity began (unit 2, OHJ chs. 1, 2, & 3); understanding the Gospels and Acts as mythology and whether historical facts about Jesus can be extracted from them (unit 3, OHJ chs. 6, 9, & 10); and exploring the arguments for and against evidence for a historical Jesus in the authentic Epistles of Paul and literature outside the New Testament (unit 4, OHJ chs. 8, 11, & 12).

start/end dates – August 1 / August 31, 2014

Schedule: Specific reading and discussion goals are set for every week, completing four units in four weeks, but within that framework you can participate in every element on your own time. There are no live events to be missed. One book by Richard Carrier is required reading (see below). Everything else about the course is provided inside the classroom website. Course lectures, academic papers, links to websites, and forums for discussions with the instructor and students are included in the Moodle website classroom. Visit the class anytime to contribute your posts and receive Dr. Carrier’s replies in discussion forums.

Course Reading: Dr. Richard Carrier, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt (2014). Students must purchase their own copy (print or electronic) before course begins. Additional readings will be provided electronically inside the online classroom at no cost to students.

GENERAL INFORMATION: Online classrooms and their discussion threads are accessible 24/7, so you can participate at any hour of the day when there’s some time in your busy schedule. Instructors will not be on live video and you won’t be either – there is nothing happening on camera and no particular time of day you have to be present. If an instructor posts a pre-recorded video, you can view it at your convenience. There’s nothing ‘live’ to be missed, and course instructor respond individually and promptly to all questions and comments. Instructors lead everyone through lectures and readings, but no attendance is taken and there are no assignments to complete – instructors are always available when you are ready to engage them about what is on your mind.

Ask Richard about his course by posting on his facebook wall at www.facebook.com/richard.carrier.phd

Richard Carrier
Richard Carrier, PhD, is the renowned author of Sense and Goodness without God and Proving History, as well as numerous articles online and in print. He received his PhD in ancient history from Columbia University in 2008, and now specializes in the modern philosophy of naturalism, the origins of Christianity, and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome. For more about Richard and his work visit www.richardcarrier.info.