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.
Published on the Secular Web
[ Modern Library | Kiosk Video ]
Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on Mimesis & the Q Hypothesis
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | January 20, 2023 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this roughly 45-minute returning interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on mimesis (literary imitation mythologizing Jesus), the Q hypothesis (that a lost document dubbed "Q" was the common source for borrowed material found in both Matthew and Luke, but not found in the earlier Gospel of Mark), and the role of Christianity in America's culture wars. In MacDonald's experience, readers' reaction to his recently published three-part work on the Synoptic Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the three Gospels of John has been largely positive with respect to mimesis, but negative toward the the Q material largely because, as a lost document, it has to be reconstructed. The interlocutors discuss why this attitude is unjustified (and anti-intellectual), how taking mimesis all the way to Jesus himself is intellectually irresponsible, and how external evidence for the existence of Q renders such skepticism extreme (e.g., there are earlier references to a Q document than Luke and John, like the elder John's belief in a lost document of Matthew). MacDonald and Robyn Faith Walsh have argued that early Christians were trying to establish a social identity for the emerging Christian movement, not inventing a nonexistent Jesus. MacDonald argues that mimesis is part of early Christians' intellectual project, not a haphazard attempt by early Christians to simply borrow amenable stories from earlier literary sources (e.g., pseudo-Luke is trying to craft a Christian identity in the Roman Empire and in contemporaneous Judaism by using fiction to construct a founding mythology of the early Church, not craft a history). After illustrating the story of a woman anointing Jesus for his burial in the Gospel of Mark as a simple and representative example of mimesis, the interlocutors go on to address Robyn Faith Walsh's view that the empty tomb story is a pagan trope to symbolize a mortal man attaining divinity and how both atheists and Christian apologists misread Luke as providing a history rather exemplifying literary models. Check out this enlightening interview with a prolific expert on mimesis and hermetics!
Interview with Dennis R. MacDonald on Epic, Tragedy, and the Gospels
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | December 11, 2022 | Kiosk Video
Join host Edouard Tahmizian in this half-hour long interview with New Testament scholar Dennis R. MacDonald on his magnum opus Synopses of Epic, Tragedy, and the Gospels, a groundbreaking hermetic commentary on the Synoptic Gospels and the narratives of the Acts of the Apostles. In this reference work all of the New Testament Gospels are translated side by side in adjacent columns for comparison with their (sometimes obscure) parallels in classical Greek poetry, especially the Homeric epics and Virgil's Aeneid. The interlocutors discuss how Pappias provides us with external evidence to the Gospels with a circa 110 CE text that predates the Gospels of Luke or John and reveals evidence of Pappias' knowledge of Johannine—but not Pauline—Christianity, and of Matthew and Mark. MacDonald goes on to explain why he hypothesizes from reverse priority that the lost document of Matthew referred to by Pappias was the Q source document before turning to what happened to the historical Jesus' body after his crucifixion, how the historical Jesus is hardly different from the historical Socrates, and two statements attributed to Jesus that are likely representative of the historical Jesus' views. Check out this intriguing interview with the world's foremost expert on hermetics—and check out his recent book while it's still on sale!
Interview with Robyn Faith Walsh & Dennis R. MacDonald on their Differences
Edouard Tahmizian | Robyn Faith Walsh | Dennis R. MacDonald | September 23, 2022 | Kiosk Video
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
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | August 9, 2022 | Kiosk Video
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
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | June 3, 2022 | Kiosk Video
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!
Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald Interview (Debated With Richard Carrier)!
Edouard Tahmizian | Dennis R. MacDonald | September 5, 2021 | Kiosk Video
In this over half-hour dialog with Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald, John Wesley Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins at the Claremont School of Theology, host Edouard Tahmizian explores Dr. MacDonald’s work on the concept of mimesis and on reconstructing the historical Jesus.
[ Modern Library | Kiosk Video ]