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Dennis R. MacDonald

Dennis R. MacDonald is Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology (California), whose published books include Does the New Testament Imitate Homer? and Acts of Andrew: Early Christian Apocrypha.


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Modern Library

Carrier-O’Connell Debate: Final Assessment by Independent Judges

On Paul's Theory of Resurrection: The Carrier-O'Connell Debate. Richard and Jake agreed to have four independent judges read and assess their debate upon its completion. Below those judges and their assessments will be presented, according to the The Rules We Followed, especially rules (7) and (8). Those judges present their assessments below. Total Assessment
Kiosk Video

Interview with Robyn Faith Walsh & Dennis R. MacDonald on their Differences

Tune in with Edouard Tahmizian in this over one-hour interview with New Testament scholars Robyn Faith Walsh and Dennis R. MacDonald for a novel first-of-its-kind conversation on the literary imitation of ancient Greek poetry and philosophy in the canonical Gospels. Does Mark imitate Virgil (who in turn imitates Homer)? Or is there a stronger case for imitation of Virgil in Luke-Acts? How do Mark and Paul deploy ideas in similar ways? In what ways do Achilles—and especially Hector—find their parallels in the Gospels? These and other questions are addressed before the discussion turns to the bigger-picture view of literary networks and mimetic chains where authors imitate other imitations. Given the common background agreement between Walsh and MacDonald about the 'game' that the ancients were playing in their writings, where do their perspectives diverge on Q source material? One must separate the question of whether there ever existed a Q document from the question of whether such a document, assuming that it did exist, can ever be reconstructed into a meaningfully readable document today (especially since there are several plausible reconstructions of Q). Can Q reasonably be viewed as a collection of the sayings of John the Baptist? And what should we make of Jesus mythicism? Do Jesus mythicists selectively cherry-pick the historical evidence, or not? Does it even matter whether a historical Jesus existed since the Gospel Jesus is clearly not the historical Jesus anyway? Check out this fantastic interview with world-class philologians finally getting together to discuss the interpretation of literature while highlighting their areas of interest and respectful disagreement!

Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on Mimesis and More

Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this 45-minute interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on his September 2022 3-volume reference work Synopses of Epic Tragedy in the Gospels on the Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John, and the narratives of the Acts of the Apostles. The interlocutors go on to discuss a central theme of that upcoming verse-by-verse commentary, mimesis (literary imitation), not only of Old Testament themes, but even more so of ancient Greek poetry and philosophy. Their discussion then turns to how the forced arguments of Jesus mythicists unscientifically retrofit the historical data to suit their pre-existing views in the same way as conspiracy theorists, and how the Jewish authorities' response to the empty tomb story supports the existence of a historical Jesus (regardless of the validity of the empty tomb story itself). They then turn to the plausibility of John Dominic Crossan's thesis that Mark is simply an extended parable, which MacDonald believes makes little sense since we need mimesis to understand how Mark rewrites the earlier Q document to be a modest biography infused by Mark with Greek mythology to render it more of an epic than a parable. Finally, MacDonald explains his view of a historical Jesus as a radical Jewish reformer who paid the price for trying to make Jewish law more humane. Check out this intriguing interview with the author of the most important book ever written on the Gospels!

Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on the Gospels

Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this twenty-minute follow-up interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on his forthcoming 2-volume reference work Epic Tragedy and the Gospels (on the literary background to gospels that were never intended to be read as histories), the scholarship of Robyn Faith Walsh on mimesis (mythologizing Jesus), the misappropriation of his work by fellow atheists, the Q source and the synoptic problem, and much more. Tune in for this engaging interview with a long-established man of letters!