Was Christianity Too Improbable to be False? (2006)
15. Who Would Follow an Executed Criminal?
Not much needs to be said about Holding’s next point, which simply duplicates what he already argued earlier: that “Jesus endured disgrace–and thereby also offended the sensibilities of his contemporaries” by being mocked and humiliated by the authorities, convicted of blasphemy and sedition, and buried dishonorably as a convicted felon. We already addressed these issues in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2. The bottom line: Christians taught that Jesus was completely innocent, and received all this treatment unjustly–but voluntarily–exactly as scripture required. This message had genuine appeal to many groups, even as it remained repugnant to still other groups–especially those in the elite upper classes. Consequently, exactly as Holding’s argument entails, Christianity succeeded only among those groups who were receptive to its message, and failed to find favor among those groups who found such a messiah beneath their contempt. But there were more than enough people in the former category to fully account for the actual scale of Christian success in the first century (which we shall discuss in Chapter 18). So there is nothing “improbable” about Christianity’s success on this score.
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Copyright ©2006 by Richard Carrier. The electronic version is copyright ©2006 by Internet Infidels, Inc. with the written permission of Richard Carrier. All rights reserved.