Review of Doherty's "The Jesus Puzzle"

by Bernard Muller (Sep. 13, 2004)

Bernard Muller is the author of a commendable website titled Jesus, A Historical Reconstruction.

This page is out of date. Please go to Bernard's website for the latest and greatest. I am keeping this up only because it is in the search engines. Please update your links to point to Bernard's site.

Doherty has a response to Bernard Muller's critique here.

1. General introduction:

Some months ago, Peter Kirby asked me to write a review of Earl's book (subtitled 'Did Christianity begin with a mythical Christ?'). At that time I had some acquaintance with the mythicist theories: I read most of Earl's web site and due to my participation on the "Jesus Mysteries" list, I got into two debates with Doherty himself. But I never read his book, that is until I did it a few weeks ago.

But first, let me present myself: I am an ex-Christian, now a humanist, but also certain a (little and rather embarrassing) "historical Jesus" existed. Why? Because of years of independent research, mostly based on the primary evidence. Following that, I generated an extensive book-sized web site, titled Jesus, a historical reconstruction, which also includes many related issues. I also want to say I am not a scholar and my knowledge of ancient languages is close to be not existent. But in view of their many different opinions & theories, scholars may not be the best qualified to work on the "(a)historical Jesus"! And I do care about translations: I use all the tools at my disposal to avoid errors. For more information about me and my methodology, please consult this page. Now let's go back to Doherty's The Jesus Puzzle.

From my standpoint, there are many things I agree with Earl about early Christianity. Among them, heavenly "myths" (& others), imports from the Old Testament & Hellenism, the Platonic/Philoic influence, the progressive & dissimilar development of Christian beliefs and, above all, the non-existence of a historic Jesus. On these items, 'the Jesus Puzzle' makes good points, more so against a Jesus starting single-handily either a religion, sect or movement through his own preaching or/and deeds. No wonder Christian scholars, from conservative to liberal, are reluctant to engage Doherty!

However, I do not intend here to review the points of agreement, not even all the ones I oppose: that would be too much of a task. Rather, I will concentrate on the main items of divergence: the crucifixion in some lower "fleshy" heaven and the denial of an earthly Jesus. Therefore I will proceed towards debunking Earl's related arguments by revealing the lack of evidence behind his key hypotheses. Furthermore, I will present primary data (unmentioned in the book!), all of which very damaging for Doherty's theories, but pointing to a flesh & blood Jesus crucified on earth (even Jerusalem!). And all of that by consulting mainly Paul's authentic epistles ('Romans', '1&2Corinthians', 'Galatians', 'Philippians', '1Thessalonians' & 'Philemon') and 'Hebrews' (both Earl & I agree on those being pre-gospels).

Note: among the other points of divergence, I explained my position on "Q" (a stratified "Q" is capital for Doherty's overall "reconstruction") and the gospels, concerning dating and make up (follow the internal links for dating through the internal evidence). See also this page of mine for the post-crucifixion "beginning of Christianity".

2. Who crucified Jesus and where did that happen?

Let's go over this by looking primarily at chapter 10 (Who Crucified Jesus?), pages 95-108. The subject is also on Earl's web site, as "Supplementary Articles - No. 3", same title but different verbose. Later I will address Doherty's arguments on 'Hebrews'.

2.1. Higher and Lower Worlds:

In chapter 3, there is a brief section where Doherty comments on the two worlds concept in the Platonic mind: the upper one (above the earth), domain of the spiritual and the invisible, and the lower one, mainly earthly, perishable and unperfected.
Actually, the Platonic heaven was very vaguely described by Plato, as an upper space inhabited by ethereal "universals", "forms"/ "ideas", representing "images" of earthly things, and by an "unknowable" creator god, the Demiurge.
Back in ch. 10, Doherty keeps broadening this concept and importing some more from mystery cults, claiming counterparts in heaven of anything earthly, including events. Then he theorizes more and more, combining his pagan "true sacred past" world of myths with Judeo/Christian ones, introducing a partition of the heavens and an upper world (above the earth and below God's heaven), the home of demon spirits: "In this upper world, too, Christ has been crucified at the hands of the demon spirits." Here, the fleshy would meet the spirits, the material coexists with the ethereal, and all of that with only traces of flimsy "evidence" for back up. He finally declares: "For example, Christ had to be "of David's stock" (Romans 1:3), for the spiritual Son was now equated with the Messiah, and the clear testimony in scripture that the Messiah would be a descendant of David could not be ignored or abandoned." (p.99)
That comes after three pages of convoluted rhetorical speculations leading to some mythical upper world, with nothing suggesting it was believed by anyone in the first three centuries.
And the question remains: how could a descendant of David not be considered an earthly human? More so because Doherty admitted earlier Moses and Abraham (an ancestor of David!) were thought to have lived on earth. And according to the OT, David himself had many male descendants, the royal ones certainly described to be flesh & blood men. Why would the "Messiah" Jesus be different? In his epistles, did Paul explain a "Son of David" does not have to be born on earth? The answer is NO.

Note: on pages 99-100, Doherty writes: "The absorption of the spiritual power generated by the Deity and his acts is accomplished through a pattern of "likeness." Here is the way Paul puts it in Romans 6:5:
"For if we become united with him in the likeness of his death, certainly we shall be also in [{] the likeness of his [}] resurrection." [NASB]
In other words, the spiritual force set up by the acts of the deity in the primordial past or higher reality impacts on the devotee in the present in the parallel process. Death creates a "death," resurrection creates a "resurrection.""

However the Greek does NOT have what shows between my brackets (so much for the "pattern"!). And Earl arbitrarily takes Paul's explained imagery (used by the apostle in order to make a point -- 6:12-14) as if it were mythical statements: the "parallel" death of Christians is not a true death, but their baptism, considered here by Paul as terminating a prior sinful life, as stated in the preceding verse:
Ro6:4 NASB "Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead ..., so we too might walk in newness of life."
And here the "resurrection" of Christians is not a "likeness" of the alleged one of Christ, but the passage into a new (but still earthly) life, right after the baptism/"death". This is also explained in the following verses 6:6-14, including:
Ro6:7 NASB "for he who has died [been baptized] is freed from sin."
Ro6:10-11 NASB "For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."
Doherty is "interpreting" out of context (and using favorable -- but misleading -- translation) in order to back up his mythicist case, as he does often.
And we know now why Paul used "likeness" (once!) in Ro6:5!

2.2. The higher world of Attis, Mithras and Osiris:

On page 98, Doherty postulates "In this higher world, the myths of the mystery cults and of earliest Christianity were placed. Here the savior god Attis had been castrated, here Mithras had slain the bull, here Osiris had been dismembered ..."
Is is true? Let's now examine the stories of Attis, Mithras and Osiris. Because I am not an expert on ancient mythology, I'll rely on the writings of others.

2.2.1 Attis:
As drawn from this web site:
"The story goes that when one of Zeus' would-be sex partners rejected him, Zeus wouldn't take no for an answer. While his victim, Cybele, slept, the great philanderer spilled his seed on her. In time she gave birth to Agdistis, a hermaphroditic demon so strong and wild, the other gods grew afraid. In their terror they cut off his male sexual organ and from its blood sprang an almond tree.
The river Sangarius had a daughter named Nana who ate the fruit of this almond tree. When, as a result, she delivered a boy child nine months later, she put the child aside to be exposed. But infant death was not to be his fate. Taken care of by the shepherds, he soon became healthy and handsome -- so handsome his grandmother, Cybele, fell in love with him.
The boy, Attis, wasn't aware of Cybele's love, but what would it have mattered? In time, he saw the king of Pessinus' beautiful daughter, fell in love, and wished to marry her. The goddess who grew insanely jealous and angry, drove Attis mad for revenge. Running crazy through the mountains, he stopped at the foot of a pine-tree. There, while he rested, he castrated and killed himself. From his blood sprang violets while the tree took care of his spirit. Body and spirit might have been safe, but still his flesh would have decayed had not Zeus stepped in to aid Cybele in Attis' resurrection."

Here I do not see Attis in any upper world: he lives on earth! And he castrates himself. I also wonder how Doherty considers Attis as a savior god (if not through only a 4th century author, emperor Julian "the Apostate" --p.104).

PS: some primary evidence against Earl's speculations:
Despite the variations in the legend, according to Julian "the Apostate" (a favorite author of Doherty!), Attis appears, grows up and lives on earth (no castration in some upper world, as Earl's claims!). From Julian's 'Oration upon the Mother of the Gods' (Orations V) (262-263):
"... him [Attis] who, as fable tells, was exposed by the side of the streams of the river Gallos, and there grew up, and afterwards, when he had got tall and handsome, became the favourite of the Mother of the Gods [Cybele], and she committed to his care all other things, and placed upon his head the star-bespangled cap. ... the Mother of the Gods allowed this minion of her's to leap about and dance ... he [Attis] is said in the fable to have descended into the cave ["of the earth" (280)], and conversed with the nymph
[then had intercourse with her (265), then castrated himself (after realizing he betrayed his love for Cybele by loosing his virginity! 264), then (resurrection) "returning, as it were, out of the bowels of the earth" (270)] ..."

Note: however, on page 104, Doherty writes about: "(in Orations V, 165) Attis' descent to the lowest spirit level prior to matter, undergoing his death by castration ..."
But, in Julian's writing, the "descent" (263,266,269,270,280) is into a cave (on earth!), as I just exposed, and the starting point is earth!
And, much earlier, around 150CE, this is what Pausanias wrote in 'Description of Greece', 7, 17, 9-13:
"The people of Dyme have a temple of Athena with an extremely ancient image; they have as well a sanctuary built for the Dindymenian mother and Attis. As to Attis, I could learn no secret about him, but Hermesianax, the elegiac poet, says in a poem that he was the son of Galaus the Phrygian, and that he was a eunuch from birth. The account of Hermesianax goes on to say that, on growing up, Attis migrated to Lydia and celebrated for the Lydians the orgies of the Mother; that he rose to such honor with her that Zeus, being wroth at it, sent a boar to destroy the tillage of the Lydians. Then certain Lydians, with Attis himself, were killed by the boar, and it is consistent with this that the Gauls who inhabit Pessinus abstain from pork. But the current view about Attis is different [the legend then got considerably embellished!],
the local legend about him being this. Zeus, it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a demon, with two sexual organs, male and female. They call the demon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ. There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Sangarius, they say, took of the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child [virgin conception!]. A boy was born, and exposed, but was tended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis fell in love with him. When he had grown up, Attis was sent by his relatives to Pessinus, that he might wed the king's daughter. The marriage-song was being sung, when Agdistis appeared, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals, as also did he who was giving him his daughter in marriage. But Agdistis repented of what he had done to Attis, and persuaded Zeus to grant that the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay
These are the most popular forms of the legend of Attis. ..."

2.2.2 Mithras:
The story of Mithras is more confusing, composite and not well known. It shows a lot of evolution (and differentiations) from its origin in Persia to the Roman cults in the 2nd & 3rd century, when various forms of Mithraism became very popular. Greek scholar Plutarch and Italian poet Statius, both writing around 80CE, are the first known western authors to mention it. The later described Mithras as one who "twists the unruly horns beneath the rocks of a Persian cave" (Thebaid 1.719-20). Many tales about Mithras can be contemplated but the following rendition of the legend appears to be fairly middle of the road. From this web site (Wikipedia):
"Mithra was born of a mother-rock by a river under a tree. He came into the world with the Phrygian cap on his head (hence his designation as Pileatus, the Capped One), and a knife in his hand. It is said that shepherds watched his birth.
The hero-god first gives battle to the sun, conquers him, crowns him with rays and makes him his eternal friend and fellow; nay, the sun becomes in a sense Mithra's double, or again his father, but Helios Mithras is one god. Then follows the struggle between Mithra and the bull, the central motif of Mithraism. Ahura Mazda had created the wild bull (see aurochs), which Mithra pursued, overcame, and dragged into his cave. This wearisome journey with the struggling bull towards the cave is the symbol of man's troubles on earth. Unfortunately, the bull escapes from the cave, whereupon Ahura Mazda sends a crow with a message to Mithra to find and slay it. Mithra reluctantly obeys, and plunges his dagger into the bull as it returns to the cave. Strange to say, from the body of the dying bull proceeds all wholesome plants and herbs that cover the earth, from his spinal marrow the corn, from his blood the vine, etc.
The power of evil sends his unclean creatures to prevent or poison these productions but in vain. From the bull proceed all useful animals, and the bull, resigning itself to death, is transported to the heavenly spheres. Man is now created and subjected to the malign influence of Ahriman in the form of droughts, deluges, and conflagrations, but is saved by Mithra.
Finally man is well established on earth and Mithra returns to heaven. He celebrates a last supper with Helios and his other companions, is taken in his fiery chariot across the ocean, and now in heaven protects his followers. For the struggle between good and evil continues in heaven between the planets and stars, and on earth in the heart of man."

The story is fairly disjointed and appears to be a combination of Persian legends with accretions from Hellenism, Christianity, Gnosticism, etc., making it the basis of a complex mystery cult with earthly & cosmic elements. And let's not forget also that the specifics about "Roman" Mithraism are known to us from few texts & varied visual representations (appearing not earlier than the late 1st century)! But it looks Mithras is born on earth and slays the bull here, at least originally.
For further info about Mithraism, I recommend this extensive web site.

2.2.3 Osiris:
There are many variations on the story about Osiris and Isis. I got this simplified one from this web site:
"From Geb, the sky god, and Nut, the earth goddess came four children: Osiris, Isis, Set and Nepthys. Osiris was the oldest and so became king of Egypt, and he married his sister Isis. Osiris was a good king and commanded the respect of all who lived on the earth and the gods who dwelled in the netherworld. However, Set was always jealous of Osiris, because he did not command the respect of those on earth or those in the netherworld. One day, Set transformed himself into a vicious monster and attacked Osiris, killing him. Set then cut Osiris into pieces and distributed them throughout the length and breadth of Egypt. With Osiris dead, Set became king of Egypt, with his sister Nepthys as his wife. Nepthys, however, felt sorry for her sister Isis, who wept endlessly over her lost husband. Isis, who had great magical powers, decided to find her husband and bring him back to life long enough so that they could have a child. Together with Nepthys, Isis roamed the country, collecting the pieces of her husbandís body and reassembling them. Once she completed this task, she breathed the breath of life into his body and resurrected him. They were together again, and Isis became pregnant soon after. Osiris was able to descend into the underworld, where he became the lord of that domain."

Here again, the story of Osiris & Isis occurs on earth and not in some higher world.

Note: I have primary evidence later on this page indicating Osiris was believed alive and later killed & dismembered on earth (from Plutarch's Isis & Osiris, written 80-100CE). Here are two samples, from the aforementioned writing:
Section 13 "One of the first acts related of Osiris in his reign was to deliver the Egyptians from their destitute and brutish manner of living. This he did by showing them the fruits of cultivation, by giving them laws, and by teaching them to honour the gods. Later he travelled over the whole earth civilizing it without the slightest need of arms, but most of the peoples he won over to his way by the charm of his persuasive discourse ..."
Section 16 "... The traditional result of Osiris' dismemberment is that there are many so-called tombs of Osiris in Egypt; for Isis held a funeral for each part when she had found it."
So how can Doherty claim "In this higher world, the myths of the mystery cults and of earliest Christianity were placed. Here the savior god Attis had been castrated, here Mithras had slain the bull, here Osiris had been dismembered ..."?

2.3. The rulers of this age:

Doherty is making a center piece of 1Corinthians2:6-8, trying to demonstrate that for Paul "the rulers" are heavenly authorities. However his main argument comes from epistles ('Ephesians' & 'Colossians') not written by Paul but later by others, as stated by Earl himself (p.13). This would nullify his argumentation: pseudo-Pauline letters simply cannot be trusted to represent Paul's thoughts & beliefs. And Paul never specified "the rulers" ('archon') as heavenly powers, but once (Ro13:3) described them as "down to earth" authorities!
Here is my viewpoint on this matter. But first, let's look at the verse in question:
1Co2:8 NKJV "None of the rulers ['archon'] of this age understood it [God's wisdom], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
In his epistles, Paul used the word "rulers" ('archon') in two other verses:
a) The "rulers" ('archon') are human authorities in 'Romans', and not even considered "bad":
Ro13:3-6 NKJV "For rulers ['archon'] are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing."
b) 1Co2:6-7 NKJV "However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers ['archon'] of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,"
Here, the rulers do not have God's wisdom (but only Paul & his Christians did!).
Furthermore, according to Paul, "this age" has only one godly entity, "the god of this age" (2Co4:4), likely Satan (Ro16:20) (Paul used "demons" ('daimonion') only for pagan gods (1Co10:20-21), not for evil angels, the later ones never acknowledged in his authentic epistles). Therefore Paul had probably human authorities in his mind, but it is likely he included also Satan, considering 2Co4:4 ("The god of this age has blinded the mind of the unbelievers ...").
I note also the emphasis of the verse is on an unspecified God's plan being at work. The larger context is about human wisdom versus God's one, and the role of the Spirit. The identity of these rulers is of no consequence for Paul's argument: no details were required.

2.4. Descending gods:

Doherty goes back on theorizing. To supply some evidence, he calls on two 4th century writers, Sallustius and emperor Julian "the Apostate"; but they lived no less than three centuries after Paul!
And Earl keeps mentioning a peculiar modern translation of 'kata sarka', "in the sphere of the flesh" (normally rendered as "according to the flesh"), as if it was primary evidence for his fleshy upper world. Even for 'en sarki' ("in flesh") (1Timothy3:16), Doherty claims it "can be translated in the sphere of the flesh" (with the sphere being that material/spiritual lower heaven!). So now, "... God has been manifested in flesh ..." (1Ti3:16 Darby) (see also 1Pe4:1) takes a whole new meaning!
But then, considering:
" ... some who think of us as walking according to flesh ['kata sarka': would Paul be accused to walk in some lower heavens? Is it a realistic proposition?]. For walking in flesh, we [Paul & his helpers] do not war according to flesh ['kata sarka': Doherty's demonic upper world? Hardly so considering the context!]. For the arms of our warfare [are] not fleshly, but powerful according to God to [the] overthrow of strongholds." (2Co10:3-4 Darby)
"... but [in] that I [Paul] now live in flesh, I live by faith ..." (Gal2:20 Darby)
"not any longer as a bondman, but above a bondman, a beloved brother [Onesimus, the slave of Philemon], specially to me [Paul], and how much rather to thee, both in [the] flesh and in [the] Lord?" (Phm1:16, Darby)
Etc. (Ro2:28,8:9; Gal6:12; Php1:22,3:3,4)
does "in flesh"('en sarki') really mean in another world?
Note: on my next page (about Jesus' humanity), I have more evidenced criticism against Earl's interpretation of 'kata sarka'.

Nowhere in this section (pages 103-105) Doherty proves a mythical theme existed during Paul's times about "descending gods". Actually, even if Earl claims "the concept of the "descending redeemer" seems to have been a persuasive idea during the era", he has to admit next "the evidence for the pre-Christian period is patchy and much debated." And Doherty does not provide any example!
Certainly, there were many stories about the Greek gods descending/ascending, in different human forms, but it is from the top of high places, like mount Olympus, to the earth below.
Earl appears to agree: "To undergo such things ["pain, blood, death"], the god had to come down to humanity's territory." However later, he theorizes this "humanity's territory" was thought to include the air between earth and moon. Really! Were human beings living there? Which ones settled in the air?
And do we have any example of an ancient god descending to the air only (not all the way down to earth or the underworld!), and experiencing pain, blood & death? As it is usually the case, Doherty does not provide the primary evidence to support his claim. Personally I know of none. Who does?

Note: as I will show later, the Jewish scriptures and the NT consider the domain of the clouds and the flying birds as part of the heavens.
And on the theme of "descending/ascending god", if Jesus was earthly and also later believed to be a pre-existent and then resurrected heavenly Deity, of course we would have, as an implied consequence, descent and ascent!

After quoting Php2:6-11 "... Bearing the human likeness, revealed in human shape, he humbled himself, and in obedience accepted even death ..." (NEB), Earl remarks that "this divinity took on a likeness to base, material form, but never does it say that he became an actual man, much less give him a life on earth."
But does not death indicate a mortal fleshy condition? Which ancient god would have met death when in a physical (but not flesh & blood) human shape?
Furthermore Paul wrote Jesus had been a man (as Adam), without any word invoking "likeness":
1Co15:21-22 Darby "For since by man [came] death, by man also resurrection of [those that are] dead. For as in the Adam all die, thus also in the Christ all shall be made alive."
Ro5:15 Darby "... much rather has the grace of God, and the free gift in grace, which [is] by the one man Jesus Christ, abounded unto the many."
And because the Son is an eternal heavenly entity for Paul, then expressions like "human likeness" and "human shape" would be expected in order to describe the incarnation as atypical/abnormal/temporary.
a) See Jewish author Philo of Alexandria, (died 45-50), 'On dreams', I, (238) "God at times assumes the likeness of the angels, as he sometimes assumes even that of men"
b) See Philo 'Questions and answers on Genesis', I, (92) "... these giants were sprung from ... angels and mortal women; for the substance of angels is spiritual; but it occurs every now and then that on emergencies occurring they have imitated the appearance of men, and transformed themselves so as to assume the human shape; [and then fathered children with mortal women on earth (extrapolated from Ge6:4):] as they did on this occasion, when forming connexions with women for the production of giants."
c) See Acts14:11-12 NKJV "Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!" And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker."
d) See 4:2-3 of 'the Ascension of Isaiah' (quoted next in where Beliar (Satan), from the firmament, comes down to earth as Nero (through an earthly mother!) "in the likeness of a man".
e) See Tatian (around 165), 'Address to the Greeks', chapter XXI:
"We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales, when we announce that God was born in the form of a man."
f) See Melito of Sardis (160-177):
"On these accounts He came to us; on these accounts, though He was incorporeal, He formed for Himself a body after our fashion ... being carried in the womb of Mary, yet arrayed in the nature of His Father; treading upon the earth, yet filling heaven; appearing as an infant ..."
"This is He who took a bodily form in the Virgin, and was hanged upon the tree, and was buried within the earth ..."

2.5. The descent of the Son:

For Doherty, the main evidence about a descending Son/god is "in a Jewish/Christian piece of writing called the Ascension of Isaiah". He asserts "here we can find corroboration for this picture of a divine Son who descends into the lower reaches of the heavens to be crucified by the demon spirits."
This text appears to be composite, originally Jewish parts recycled with Christian insertions & additions. Here is Doherty's own appraisal: "... the several surviving manuscripts differ considerably in wording, phrases and even whole sections. It has been subjected to much editing in a complicated and uncertain pattern of revision." But later Earl will "guess" which parts are reliable and early! (which happen to be the ones fitting his agenda!!!)

2.5.1 Dating of 'the Ascension of Isaiah':
It is normally dated 150-200 in its final (Christian) edition; that's some three to four generations after Paul's times, and well after the writing of gospels, and during the Gnostic era! This dating is somewhat justified by strong Docetist innuendoes in the Christian parts (except 3:13-4:22). Let's review them:
a) 9:13 "... He has descended and been made in your form [Isaiah], and they will think that He is flesh and is a man."
b) 10:17 to 10:30: the Son keeps changing his physical appearance in order not to be detected when he goes down through the lower heavens and below.
c) Mary gives birth without experiencing labour pain (11:14).
d) 11:17 "And I saw: In Nazareth He sucked the breast as a babe and as is customary in order that He might not be recognized." (Jesus does not require food: typical 2nd century Docetism)

Note: the Christian interpolations look very much dependant on the gospels, more so Matthew's (and very likely Peter's, written in the 2nd century):
a) 3:13 "He should before the sabbath be crucified"
b) 3:14: the sepulchre is watched.
c) 3:16: the sepulchre is open by angels "on the third day".
d) 11:2-5,15 "And they took Him, and went to Nazareth in Galilee."
f) 11:19-20 "... they delivered Him to the king, and crucified Him ... In Jerusalem indeed I was Him being crucified on a tree" (in true Docetist fashion, Isaiah is substituted to Jesus on the cross! For Gnostic Basilides (120-140), it is Simon of Cyrene --Irenaeus, AH, I, 24, 4) The following passage strongly alludes to Nero executing Peter (64-68). But the martyrdom of Peter under Nero appears in Christian literature not earlier than towards the end of the second century!
4:2-3 "After it is consummated, Beliar the great ruler, the king of this world, will descend, who hath ruled it since it came into being; yea, he will descent from his firmament in the likeness of a man, a lawless king, the slayer of his mother [Agrippina]: who himself (even) this king will persecute the plant which the Twelve Apostles of the Beloved have planted. Of the Twelve one will be delivered into his hands." Here is a clear expression of the Trinity, which, outside pertaining to baptism(s), became documented only in the latter part of the second century:
8:18 "And there they [angels of the 6th heaven]: all named the primal Father and His Beloved, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit, all with one voice." In his vision, when in the 7th heaven, Isaiah sees "holy Abel", Adam and Seth (chapter 9). This is very much Gnostic, more so for Seth, a minor figure in the OT, but most important in second century Christian Gnosticism, as evidenced in the Apocryphon of John (120-180). Also in the aforementioned work are the "seven heavens", a belief shared by the many Gnostic followers of Valentinus (120-160). Furthermore, none of the named "righteous" alive in the highest heaven are Jews and the God there has no "Jewish" hints (Isaiah is not even presented to him!). He is like the universal God of the main Gnostics (Basilides, Valentinus, Marcion, etc.). And according to Irenaeus, the doctrine of the Gnostic Ophites & Sethians incorporated a descent through the seven heavens (to earth!) by Christ taking different forms along the way ('Against Heresies', I, XXX, 12).

But do the Christian additions confirm that the Son gets crucified "into the lower reaches of the heavens", as Earl contends? Let's look at the evidence.

2.5.2 Where is the Son crucified in 'the Ascension of Isaiah'?
It is obvious that in chapter 11 the crucifixion occurs in Jerusalem (11:19-20 previously quoted). But what about the other Christian passages?
a) 3:13-4:22: "the children of Israel" "torture" the Son and have him "crucified with wicked men" and then "buried in the sepulchre"(3:17). It does not look we are in the lower reaches of the heavens here, with the demon spirits! Then we have "the twelve [disciples] who were with Him" (3:14) "will teach all the nations and every tongue of the resurrection" (3:18. According to Ac2:4-41). This is earth!
b) 9:13-17: that's the key passage for Doherty.
Note: according to him (no reason given!), it is one of two passages which "seem" to come from an "earlier strata" and written "probably towards the end of the first century".
But in it we read:
9:16-17 "[After "they will crucify Him on a tree" (9:14)] And when He hath plundered the angel of death, He will ascend on the third day, ... And then many of the righteous will ascend with Him, whose spirits do not receive their garments till the Lord Christ ascend and they ascend with Him."
These righteous can only be dead ones (under the guard of "the angel of death"). So the joint ascension of "the Lord Christ" and those righteous has to start from earth (at the highest!).
Let's note that on page 96, Doherty places Sheol in the underworld but still maintains, ten pages later: "... this Son is to descend to the lower world, where he will be killed and rise, rescuing the souls of the righteous dead from Sheol as he reascends to the highest heaven."
My questions to Earl: where is that "lower world", in which the Son is killed and then rises? From where are the righteous ascending? Are they not ascending with the Son?

However Doherty claims "Thus the crucifixion is something perpetrated by the supernatural powers and takes place in the spiritual world." And earlier, on the same page (p.107), he wrote "To undergo his fate, the Son will descend to the firmament where Satan and his evil angels dwell."
I replied to that already. But there is still more evidence against Doherty's assertions. Let's reveal them by answering these questions:
a) In 'the Ascension of Isaiah', is the Son arrested in the firmament?
b) If Satan and his evil angels are involved in the crucifixion, does that mean it was not on earth?

2.5.3. The Son goes through the firmament to earth:
This is according to these verses:
10:29-31 "And again [from 1st heaven] He descended into the firmament where dwelleth the ruler of this world, and He gave the password to those on the left, and His form was like theirs, and they did not praise Him there; but they were envying one another and fighting; for here there is a power of evil and envying about trifles. And I saw when He descended [below the firmament!] and made Himself like unto the angels of the air, and He was like one of them. And He gave no password; for one was plundering and doing violence to another."

10:8 "Go forth and descent through all the heavens [that would include the air between earth and moon!], and you will descent to the firmament and that world [earth: see note a) below]: to the angel in Sheol you will descend, but to Haguel [hell] you will not go."
a) In the two closest previous occurrences of "that world", at 9:20 & 9:26, the expression means "earth" only.
- 9:20-23 "Show me how everything which is done in that world [earth, confirmation later] is here [7th heaven] made known." And whilst I [Isaiah] was still speaking with him, behold one of the angels who stood nigh, ... who had raised me up from the world [earth: ch.7:2-3]. Showed me a book, and he opened it, and the book was written, but not as a book of this world [not written on earth]. And he gave (it) to me and I read it, and lo! the deeds of the children of Israel were written therein, and the deeds of those whom I know (not), my son Josab. And I said: "In truth, there is nothing hidden in the seventh heaven, which is done in this world [earth again].""
- 9:24-26 "And I [Isaiah] saw there many garments laid up [in the highest heaven], and many thrones and many crowns. And I said to the angel: "Whose are these garments and thrones and crowns?" And he said unto me: "These garments many from that world [Christians] will receive [in the future!] believing in the words of That One, ... and they will observe those things, and believe in them, and believe in His cross: for them are these laid up.""
All occurrences of "world" from 9:20 to 10:7 are for (only) the earth. Why would the next "world" (at 10:8) mean the firmament or the air below it? More so when, in the 'Ascension of Isaiah', the firmament (or the air below) is never considered a world on its own!
b) Scholar Richard Carrier, in his critique on this article of mine, admits the Son goes through the (main) firmament, according to "Ascension of Isaiah' (10:29-31, previously quoted):
"The aer [air] corresponds to the lower level of the firmament (it is the last stop above the "lower waters" that God has separated out from the firmament). Still, one can imagine that this was at some point mapped onto an angel who went all the way down to earth (through Docetism)."
- But there is nothing in 'Ascension of Isaiah' suggesting the Son stops in mid-air and the author thought about the waters of Genesis. And the lower waters, that Richard is alluding to, are the seas, on earth, not hanging between the later and the moon.
Darby 1:9-10: "And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together to one place, and let the dry [land] appear. And it was so. And God called the dry [land] Earth, and the gathering together of the waters he called Seas."
- Would the alleged Docetist inspiration date this particular passage well into the 2nd century?
2.5.4. Satan can kill people on earth also (from heaven!):
The OT book of Job demonstrates the belief that Satan could inflict havoc on earth and have a long reach, with or without leaving heaven. According to an arrangement between Satan and God, Satan is allowed to test Job and to destroy everything dear to him (his cattle, servants and children).
a) 1:15: Satan employs the Sabeans to steal animals and to kill servants.
b) 1:16: Satan sends fire from the sky and burns sheep & servants.
c) 1:17: Satan uses the Chaldeans to take the camels and to murder servants.
d) 1:18-19: Satan arranges for a mighty wind to kill Job's own daughters and sons.
And the Christian interpolator probably knew about 'Job'. Let's consider:
Job1:11 NKJV ""But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he [Job] has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!" And the LORD said to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person." So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD."
and, from 'the Ascension of Isaiah':
9:14 "And the god of that world [Satan] will stretch forth his hand against the Son, and they will lay their hands upon him and hang him upon a tree, not knowing who he is."
Note: here, Satan will eventually identify the Son and take action against him; but the "they", who are the ones actually doing the "hanging", do not know him! It does not look Satan and the others belong to the same clique! But, according to the synoptic gospels, the Romans would qualify for the "they"!
2.5.5. Satan and his evil angels can also be on earth:
Let's go back to the book of Job:
Job1:7 NKJV "And the LORD said to Satan, "From where do you come?" So Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.""
and 'the Ascension of Isaiah':
4:2 "... Beliar [Satan] the great ruler, the king of this world, will descend, who hath ruled it since it came into being; yea, he will descent from his firmament [to earth] ..."
7:9 "And we ascended to the firmament, I and he, and there I saw Sammael and his hosts, and there was great fighting therein and the angels of Satan were envying one another. And as above so on the earth also ..."
Note: in the gospels, 'Satan on earth' is featured in the 'temptation in the desert' (Mt4:1-11,Lk4:1-14) and Lk22:3 (NIV "Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, ...", enabling the arrest leading to the crucifixion).

So all the main arguments of Doherty for a crucifixion in some demonic lower heaven, as appearing in his section "the descent of the Son" in chapter 10, are unfounded. And that goes against the evidence from the ancient text of Earl's own choosing!

Note: in his meandering fuzzy discussion in order to suggest Jesus is crucified on the firmament (despite the clear-cut evidence against it!) Doherty lacks accuracy (purposely?):
a) Earl writes on page 107: "this hanging is something performed by "the god of this world," meaning Satan." But the hanging in question is never said to be done by Satan/the_god_of_this_world, neither in Paul's epistles, nor 'Ascension of Isaiah'. Doherty is therefore misleading here. And as we saw, no hanging occurs when the Son is going down through the firmament.
b) Also on page 107, Earl affirms "As in 1 Corinthians 2:8 and Colossians 2:15, one of the Son's tasks will be the conquest of the demon spirits." However, '1Corinthians' does not say that at all:
1Co2:8 (NKJV): "None of the rulers of this age understood it [God's wisdom], for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." Nowhere here there is a mention of conquest of spirits. Col2:15 does say it (but not written by Paul, according to Earl, myself and many critical scholars).
c) Doherty keeps referring to the analogies (true or not!) with 1Co2:8. Did he occur to him the authors(s) of 'Ascension of Isaiah' may have known about Paul's epistle?
Remark: according to Doherty, "Mark" just replaced the flying demons of 'Ascension of Isaiah' "by new, humanized demons: the Jews."!
d) On page 96, Earl places Sheol below earth (as believed in antiquity):
"Near the bottom ... lay humanity's sphere, the material earth; only Sheol or Hades, the underworld, was lower."
But on page 108, when the Sheol of 'Ascension of Isaiah' needs to be above earth (so the Son does not go too far down!), we have:
"Outside of this one passage,
[reference to part of "Chapter 11", according to Doherty. However, relating to earthly surroundings, there is a second one: 3:13-4:22]
the Son's activities seem to relate entirely to the spirit realm, layers of heaven extending through the firmament and including Sheol."

If the location becomes against your theory, change it!

2.6. Is there evidence in Paul's epistles about the crucifixion on earth?

Yes, there is (twice!). It may not be very direct, but this evidence is much more Doherty can offer in favor of his own demonic world!
Note: the second case is more straight forward than the first.

2.6.1. Ro9:31-33 Darby:
"But Israel, pursuing after a law of righteousness, has not attained to [that] law. Wherefore? Because [it was] not on the principle of faith, but as of works. They have stumbled at the stumblingstone, according as it is written, Behold, I [God] place in Zion a stone of stumbling and rock of offence ['skandalon']: and he that believes [has faith] on him [Christ] shall not be ashamed."
a) What "is written" is parts of Isa8:14 & Isa28:16, with significant rewriting by Paul in order to fit his purpose:
- Isa8:14 NKJV "He [the Lord God] will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense [NOT translated as 'skandalon' in the LXX!] to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem."
- Isa28:16 NKJV "Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion [Jerusalem] a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.""
For Paul, the "stone of stumbling" and the "rock of offence" for the Jews is Christ ("For Christ is [the] end of law for righteousness to every one that believes." Ro10:4 Darby)
by his sacrifice on the cross ("... for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." Gal 2:21 NKJV)
whom the Jews are still refusing ("For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, have not submitted to the righteousness of God [brought about by Christ!]." Ro10:3 Darby).
b) This is confirmed by:
- 1Co1:23 YLT "... Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a stumbling-block ['skandalon', also translated as "offenc(s)e" or "scandal"] ..."
- Gal5:11 NKJV "... the offense ['skandalon'] of the cross ..."
- Generally Ro10-11 (about Jews not acknowledging Christ), as in the next quote:
Ro11:9-10 NASB "And David says: "Let their table [Israel's] become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block ['skandalon'] and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not, ...""
Note: Paul quoted accurately Ps69:22-23 with only one exception: he added up 'skandalon'.
Finally, about the Law (with the associated righteousness) being replaced by one of faith in Christ & God:
- Php3:9 NKJV "... not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;"
c) And despite all the deletions and changes, Paul kept "in Zion".
2.6.2. Ro11:26-27 Darby
"And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "the Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel (Ge32:28)]; for this is My covenant with them [Jews], when I take away their sins.""
a) Once again, what "is written" is a combination of parts from two OT passages, with alterations by Paul in order to fit his agenda (the Jews will convert, even if they didn't so far!):
- Isa59:20-21a NKJV ""The Redeemer [here, it is God himself!] will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob," Says the LORD."As for Me," says the LORD, "this is My covenant with them: ...""
- Isa27:9a NKJV "Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: ..."
b) For Paul, the "Deliverer" (savior) of the Jews is undoubtedly Christ, by his death for atonement of sins. This is corroborated by:
- Ro3:9 NKJV "... we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin ..."
- Gal4:4-5a YLT "God sent forth His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that those under law [that would include Jews!] he may redeem, ..."
- Gal1:3b-4a NKJV "... Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us ..."
- Ro5:8b Darby "... we being still sinners, Christ has died for us."
c) And again, Paul kept "Zion" despite his rewriting. But why did he substitute "to" by "out of"? Likely because the one (Christ) coming "to" Zion NOT being yet the "Deliverer", that is prior to his redeeming act "out of" (from) Jerusalem.

'Zion' in the OT
All over the OT, 'Zion' is referred many times, as indicating an earthly place, either the heartland of the Jews (including or excluding Jerusalem) or the holy city itself. Here are some examples (all quotes from the NKJV):
2Sa5:7 "Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion (that is, the City of David)."
1Ki8:1 "Now Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the chief fathers of the children of Israel, to King Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD from the City of David, which is Zion."
Ps2:6 "Yet I [David] have set My King on My holy hill of Zion."
Ps48:1-13 "Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in His holy mountain. Beautiful in elevation, the joy of the whole earth, is Mount Zion ..., the city of the great King. God is in her palaces; He is known as her refuge. ...
We have thought, O God, on Your lovingkindness, in the midst of Your temple. ...
Walk about Zion, and go all around her. Count her towers; mark well her bulwarks; consider her palaces; that you may tell it to the generation following."

Isa1:7-8 "Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire; strangers devour your land in your presence; and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.
So the daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vineyard, as a hut in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city." (in 701 B.C.E., the Assyrian army devasted Judah, including its cities, except for Jerusalem which was saved. Same situation for the next quote)
Isa10:24 "Therefore thus says the Lord God of hosts: "O My people, who dwell in Zion, do not be afraid of the Assyrian. ..."
Isa64:10-11 "Your holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation.
Our holy and beautiful temple, where our fathers praised You, is burned up with fire;
And all our pleasant things are laid waste." (in the second part of 'Isaiah', the Babylonian army had destroyed Jerusalem. Same situation for the next quote)
Jer26:18 "Micah of Moresheth prophesied in the days of Hezekiah king of Judah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, saying, 'Thus says the Lord of hosts:"
"Zion shall be plowed like a field, Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, ..."'"

Note: in the OT, Zion is never described as a (mythical) heavenly place.

2.7. 'Hebrews' and the sacrifice in heaven:

On page 120, Doherty valiantly declares: "No other New Testament document so clearly illustrates the higher and lower world thinking of Platonic philosophy as the epistle to the Hebrews." Then he continues: "The writer places the sacrifice in heaven itself, in "the real sanctuary, the tent pitched by the Lord and not by man" (8:2)".
Let's observe the whole aforementioned verse (with the preceding one):
Heb8:1-2 YLT "And the sum concerning the things spoken of [is]: we have such a chief priest [Jesus], who did sit down at the right hand of the throne of the greatness in the heavens, of the holy places ['Hagion'] a servant, and of the true tabernacle [tent, shelter], which the Lord did set up, and not man,"
I do not see here (or in the whole of 'Hebrews'!) a "sacrifice" occurring in heaven (at the right hand of God!). And there is no mention of execution, cross or altar in these two verses. Just that Jesus, as the Lord in heaven, is a servant/minister of the holy places & "true" tabernacle.
And from which translation does "the real sanctuary" come from? "real" is not in the Greek!
Let's also note 'Hagion' does not necessarily mean "sanctuary" (which can be understood as "temple"!). Furthermore, sacrifices in the old Jewish system took place always outside any tabernacle.

Here, I have to address a point that Richard Carrier raised on the critique of my page:
"No, they took place inside it: Hebrews 9:6-8. There is an outer and an inner tabernacle. The sacrifice takes place in the outer and the blood is taken to the inner, where it must be poured on the altar."
First Heb9:6-8 never even suggests what Richard claims:
Darby "Now these things being thus ordered, into the first tabernacle the priests enter at all times, accomplishing the services; but into the second, the high priest only, once a year, not without blood, which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people: the Holy Spirit shewing this, that the way of the [holy of] holies has not yet been made manifest while as yet the first tabernacle has [its] standing;"
Actually 'Hebrews' itself opposes Carrier:
Heb13:11-12 NKJV "For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate."

All over the OT, and in the temple of Jerusalem, sacrifices were performed outside, on altar(s) in the open:
Ex40:6-7 Darby "And thou shalt set the altar of burnt-offering before the entrance of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting. And thou shalt set the laver between the tent of meeting and the altar, and shalt put water in it."
Ex40:33 Darby "And he set up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and hung up the curtain of the gate of the court. And so Moses finished the work."
1Ki8:64 Darby "The same day the king hallowed the middle of the court that was before the house of Jehovah; for there he offered the burnt-offerings, and the oblations, and the fat of the peace-offerings, because the brazen altar that was before Jehovah was too small to receive the burnt-offerings, and the oblations, and the fat of the peace-offerings."
2Ki21:4b-5 Darby "... Jehovah had said, In Jerusalem will I put my name. And he built altars to all the host of heaven in both courts of the house of Jehovah."
Josephus' Wars, V, V, 1 "the plain at the top was hardly sufficient for the holy house and the altar"
Wars, V, V, 6 "Before this temple stood the altar"
Note: the altar referred above was for animal sacrifice. Another altar (the one of incense) was inside the outer tabernacle/sanctum, but was not used for fleshy killings. And there was no altar into the inner tabernacle/sanctum.

Then Doherty goes on: "the act of bringing his [Christ's] own "blood" to the heavenly sanctuary" "portrayed as a higher world counterpart to the action of the high priest on earth".
But the (bringing of) "blood" is a sign the sacrifice happens before the Son enters the "true" holy places, which, according to the following verse, is heaven itself:
Heb9:24 YLT "for not into holy places made with hands did the Christ enter -- figures of the true -- but into the heaven itself, ..."
Therefore Christ would have brought his "blood" (figuratively) from outside the heavens: "... who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, ..." (Heb4:14 Darby).
Important remark:
In the scriptures (of which the author of 'Hebrews' had an extensive knowledge!), the domain of the winds, clouds & flying birds/fowls is considered part of the heavens (Greek root 'ouranos' in the LXX, as in previously quoted Heb4:14,8:1,9:24):
Ge1:26 YLT "And God saith, `Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness, and let them rule over fish of the sea, and over fowl of the heavens, and over cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that is creeping on the earth.'"
Ge1:28,1:30,2:19,2:20,6:7,7:3,7:23,9:2; Dt28:26; 1Sa17:44,17:46,21:10, 1Ki16:4
1Ki18:45 KJV "And it came to pass in the mean while, that the heaven was black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode, and went to Jezreel."
Job20:6; Ecc10:20; Jer4:25,7:33,15:3,16:4,19:7; Eze29:5,31:6,32:4,38:20; Da4:12,4:21,7:13; Hos4:3,7:12; Zep1:3
According to the above, "... passed through the heavens ..." (Heb4:14) would require earth as the starting point!

Note: the synoptic gospels and 'Acts' acknowledge the same:
Mk4:4 YLT "and it came to pass, in the sowing, some fell by the way, and the fowls of the heaven did come and devour it;"
Mk14:62 KJV "And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Mt6:26,8:20,13:32,24:30,26:64; Lk8:5,8:58,13:19; Ac10:12,11:6
Let's also say that crucifixions (a non-religious execution) were NOT set in any Jewish sanctuary (including the sacred grounds surrounding it!). And in 'Hebrews', Jesus is mentioned to have been crucified: 6:6 & 12:2 "Jesus ... endured [the] cross, having despised [the] shame ..." (Darby)

Notes: in 'Hebrews',
a) the counterpart of the earthly sanctuary (holy places) is heaven.
b) the counterpart of Doherty's "higher world" (the heavens) is earth itself. No other "world" is mentioned (1:10, 12:26).
c) right after 12:2, where Jesus endured the cross, the next verse exhorts: "For consider well him who endured so great contradiction from sinners against himself ..." (12:3 Darby). Where were these "sinners" opposing Jesus? Considering Heb7:25-26 NASB, "... He [Jesus] always lives to make intercession for them [Christians], ... a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners ...", the sinners are not in the highest heaven!
And sins are never suggested to be committed by demonic powers, those later ones not even acknowledged in the epistle, except for one reference to the devil (singular!): Heb2:14. Instead, sins concern earthly humans (Heb2:17,3:13,5:1-3,7:27,8:12,10:2-4,16-17,26,11:25,12:1,4).
d) the tense of "has passed" (4:14), "endured" (12:3) and "separated" (7:26) is perfect in the Greek (or second perfect, which is the same): "the perfect tense in Greek corresponds to the perfect tense in English, and describes an action which is viewed as having been completed in the past, once and for all, not needing to be repeated." (Strong)

Further on, Doherty declares "He [the author of 'Hebrews'] has said that Christ's sacrifice is "spiritual, eternal and unblemished" (9:14)". If the sacrifice is spiritual & eternal, it has to be mythical, isn't it? But first, let's check the verse:
Heb9:14 Darby "how much rather shall the blood of the Christ, who by the eternal Spirit offered himself spotless to God, purify your conscience from dead works to worship [the] living God?"
Where is the spiritual & eternal sacrifice? The Spirit is eternal, not the sacrifice. And the later is not qualified as spiritual. And no translation can possibly have the sacrifice as "spiritual, eternal, ...", according to the Greek. If there is no evidence supporting your case, that's not a reason to create some!
Furthermore the following verses specify the "sacrifice" happened once only, in the past:
Heb7:27 NASB "sacrifice ... for this he [Jesus] did once, having offered up himself;"
Heb10:14 Darby "For by one offering he has perfected [Greek perfect tense] in perpetuity the sanctified." (the sacrifice occurred already!)
Heb9:26 Darby "But now once in the consummation of the ages he has been manifested [Greek perfect tense, unnoticed by Doherty: p.37] for [the] putting away of sin by his sacrifice." (the "manifestation" & sacrifice have been completed in the near past!)
and it is not exactly "spiritual":
Heb10:19-20 NASB "... by the blood of Jesus, the new and living way which he has dedicated for us through ... his flesh."

In conclusion, there is no evidence in 'Hebrews' the "sacrifice" happened in the heavens, despite Doherty's best imaginative effort & rhetoric. But there are significant clues pointing to earth. And then, why the author did not specify the heavens or a lower heaven/upper world for Jesus' crucifixion? Why did he consider consistently only two worlds, heavens and earth (1:10), the former including the firmament (11:12)?

2.8. Miscellaneous notes:

2.8.1 Comments on Appendix 6 "The location of the myths of the Greek savior gods and of Christ" (p.312-316):
Doherty refers to Plutarch (wrote 80-100) but the quote from this author does not say anything about the "location". However his citation from Apuleius (2nd century) 'the Golden Ass' (a comic/erotic novel!) does include "the gods of the under-world, and the gods of the upper-world". But the original Latin does not have 'world' in it: "deos inferos et deos superos". And once again, Earl goes back to Sallustius (no quote presented) and Julian "the Apostate" (both 4th century authors!), providing this cryptic passage: "the substance which is subject to change mingles with the passionless revolving sphere of the fifth substance." (Orations V, 165c)
which would be the only quotation with some trace of validity in the whole book!
I also note Doherty is unable to present any external evidence about his idea of the fleshy/demonic lower heaven as written before (or during) Paul's days. For the years afterwards up to Julian's times, we are provided with only a few doubtful whiffs (to be generous!).
2.8.2. Comments on Notes about Chapter 10 (p.340-342):
Note 46: Doherty lists modern scholars & ancient writers (Origen & Marcion) who believe the "rulers" of 1Co2:8 to be supernatural powers. But,
a) this is not primary evidence.
b) conservative Christians (and Marcion) regard(ed) 'Ephesians' & 'Colossians' as authentically Pauline, and had to take in account Eph3:9-10 & Col2:15.
c) modern era writers with "mythicist" tendency would obviously call for cosmic entities.
d) Paul simply did not identify these rulers.
2.8.3. Comments on Richard Carrier's review on Doherty's book: Richard Carrier commented that in Plutarch's Isis and Osiris (written around 90-100), "it is there, in the "outermost areas" (the "outermost part of matter"), that evil has particular dominion, and where Osiris is continually dismembered and reassembled (375a-b)."
Let's check about these outermost areas and where Osiris was dismembered:
- "[s.38] The outmost parts of the land beside the mountains and bordering on the sea the Egyptians call Nephthys. ... Whenever, then, the Nile overflows and with abounding waters spreads far away to those who dwell in the outermost regions ..."
- "[s.59] But where Typhon forces his way in and seizes upon the outermost areas ..."
- "[s.59]... the outermost part of matter which they call Nephthys ..."
- "[s.18] Typhon [the king of Egypt], who was hunting by night in the light of the moon, happened upon it [the chest containing Osiris' body, which Isis found in Byblos (s.16)]. Recognizing the body he divided it into fourteen parts and scattered them, each in a different place. Isis learned of this and sought for them again, sailing through the swamps in a boat of papyrus ... The traditional result of Osiris' dismemberment is that there are many so-called tombs of Osiris in Egypt; for Isis held a funeral for each part when she had found it."
It looks to me the outermost areas are regions around Egypt, called Nephthys, and the remains of Osiris are dispersed in Egypt. Carrier also contended "In effect, Osiris is "incarnated" in the sublunar heaven and actually dies and resurrects there" and "Isis and Osiris were such, but were later exalted into the heavens as full gods (361e)". Let's check again the evidence from Plutarch's Isis and Osiris:

a) Plutarch never used the expression "sublunar heaven", nor did he mention any world/heaven below the moon and above the earth:
"[s.63] that part of the world which undergoes reproduction and destruction is contained underneath the orb of the moon, and all things in it are subjected to motion and to change through the four elements: fire, earth, water, and air."
This part of the world is just like earth and the air above it!
Once again, I go back to Richard Carrier's critique:
"The sublunar heaven is the firmament, which is indeed a part of everything below the moon. Yes, I used the word heaven in the modern, not ancient sense (the first "heaven" in the ancient sense was above the sublunar aer--though the OT does not yet make that distinction)."
The ancients (as Aristotle and Ptolemy) thought the moon was the most outward (in the earth direction) celestial body. The sun was understood in an orbit beyond the one of the moon, among the planets moving between the moon and the firmament. And the "fixed" stars were on the firmament in front (or part) of "the prime mover sphere". In any case, the firmament was considered behind the moon and therefore not sublunar.

b) Osiris dies on earth, in Egypt specifically:
"[s.13] Typhon, having secretly measured Osiris' body and having made ready a beautiful chest of corresponding size artistically ornamented, caused it to be brought into the room where the festivity was in progress. ... Typhon jestingly promised to present it to the man who should find the chest to be exactly his length when he lay down in it. They all tried it in turn, but no one fitted it; then Osiris got into it and lay down, and those who were in the plot ran to it and slammed down the lid, which they fastened by nails from the outside and also by using molten lead. Then they carried the chest to the river and sent it on its way to the sea through the Tanitic Mouth."
Osiris dies when sealed in the chest which is carried to the Nile and let floating to the Mediterranean sea. It lands near Byblos (Phoenicia/Lebanon):
"[s.15] Thereafter Isis, as they relate, learned that the chest had been cast up by the sea near the land of Byblus and that the waves had gently set it down in the midst of a clump of heather."

c) Prior to his death, Osisis is described as the rightful king of Egypt, and not "incarnated" in any sublunar heaven:
"[s.13] One of the first acts related of Osiris in his reign was to deliver the Egyptians from their destitute and brutish manner of living. This he did by showing them the fruits of cultivation, by giving them laws, and by teaching them to honour the gods. Later he travelled over the whole earth civilizing it without the slightest need of arms, but most of the peoples he won over to his way by the charm of his persuasive discourse combined with song and all manner of music."
"[s.21] Eudoxus says that, while many tombs of Osiris are spoken of in Egypt, his body lies in Busiris; for this was the place of his birth;"

d) For Plutarch, the final resting place of Osiris is below the polluted earth, and not into the heavens:
"[s.78] ... this god Osiris is the ruler and king of the dead, nor is he any other than the god that among the Greeks is called Hades and Pluto. But since it is not understood in with manner this is true, it greatly disturbs the majority of people who suspect that the holy and sacred Osiris truly dwells in the earth and beneath the earth, where are hidden away the bodies [bodies, NOT souls!] of those that are believed to have reached their end. But he himself is far removed from the earth [downward! See later], uncontaminated and unpolluted and pure from all matter that is subject to destruction and death ..."
For a confirmation, Plutarch equated Osiris with Hades, the ruler of the underworld in Greek mythology (via Dionysus!):
"[s.28] Heraklitus the physical philosopher says: "Hades and Dionysus are the same ..." people are inclined to come to this opinion. ... it is better to identify Dionysus with Osiris"
Plutarch also specified where the dead's souls would go:
"[s.29] In fact, Plato says that Hades is so named because he is a beneficent and gentle god towards those who have come to abide with him. Morever among the Egyptians many others of the proper names are real words; for example, that place beneath the earth, to which they believe that souls depart after the end of this life, they call Amenthes ..."
and when they would meet Osiris:
"[s.78] ... when these souls are set free and migrate into the realm of the invisible and the unseen, the dispassionate and the pure, then this god [Osiris] becomes their leader and king ..."

e) Plutarch is however very much confusing when handling different concepts & traditions, some of them mythical, and lacks consistency through his rather incoherent narration. For example, "for Nephthys is that which is beneath the earth and invisible" (s.44). Here Nephthys is the invisible/unseen underworld, the home of the souls. Finally Carrier quoted from 'Isis and Osiris': "Plato, says Plutarch, "calls this class of beings an interpretive and ministering class, midway between gods and men, in that they convey thither the prayers and petitions of men"(361c)".
I am not objecting to that, but let's inquire where those beings, more so the bad ones, would reside according to Plutarch's writing:
"[s.26] Empedocles says also that the demigods must pay the penalty for the sins that they commit and the duties that they neglect:
Might of the Heavens chases them forth to the realm of the Ocean; Ocean spews them out on the soil of the Earth, and Earth drives them straight to the rays of the tireless Sun, who consigns them to Heaven's whirlings; thus one from another receives them, but ever with loathing"
It does not seem these sinful demigods ("[s.26] daemons") have a home in the lower heavens! That would go against Doherty's unsubstantiated theory:
"The lowest level of the spirit realm was the air, or "firmament," between the earth and the moon. This was the domain of the demon spirits" (p.103)

2.9. Conclusion:

I do admire Earl's rhetorical skills but I rely on the evidence first. And from ancient pagan writings before Julian's times (331-363), there is no testimony presented in 'the Jesus Puzzle' about the concept of an upper world between heaven & earth, where the fleshy meets demonic powers, a place where Jesus would have been crucified. After years of research, Doherty was unable to flesh out the evidence for it.
From the Christian side, 'the Ascension of Isaiah' (a text tainted with Gnosticism) does mention the firmament "where dwelleth the ruler of this world" (10:29), but Satan & his evil angels' rule extends to the earth also. And in any case, the Son is not crucified there, but rather on earth, as already explained through the internal evidence.
Furthermore, all the texts cited by Doherty (and Carrier) were not written before Paul's times.

Why would the early Christians imagine an upper world as more real & pungent than their earthly one? Up to the point they took the crucifixion "automatically" happened there, even if Paul never wrote it did (but indirectly indicated "Zion"!).
Why did Paul never state Jesus' death in an upper world/lower heaven?
Why did he never specify the crucifixion was not on earth, more so when many were crucified there?
And because of the flimsy substantiation of "Doherty's world" in all of the ancient literature (four centuries of it!), wouldn't that raise a major (controversial!) issue after being learned from Paul (or others) as where Jesus suffered the cross & died (and out of sight from humans!)? Of course it would! Then why don't we observe the apostle dealing with it in his epistles, where he just did that with many others?
For me, Doherty's theory crashes to the ground right there, because of lack of external testimonies about the mythical lower heaven and the silences of Paul (& 'Hebrews') about it. Actually, and looking only at Paul's (seven) authentic epistles (both Earl & myself agree on those) and 'Hebrews', the evidence is much stronger towards earth and Zion (Jerusalem) than for the firmament or that mysterious "world".

And we did not consider the related issue of the "flesh & blood" earthly Jesus yet! That comes next.

3. Do Paul & 'Hebrews' not mention an earthly Jesus?

On this topic, I'll review all the bit & pieces addressed by Doherty and also flesh out the evidence he "forgot". Once again, I'll work on what Doherty (and myself) considers pre-gospels texts, mostly Paul's seven (genuine) epistles ('Romans', '1Corinthians', '2Corinthians', 'Galatians', 'Philippians', '1Thessalonians' & 'Philemon') and 'Hebrews'.

3.1. Jesus as the Son of David (and seed of Abraham):

In chapter 8, on pages 82-84, Doherty works on Romans1:1-4:
Ro1:1-4 Darby "Paul, bondman of Jesus Christ, [a] called apostle, separated to [set apart for] God's glad tidings, (which he had before promised by his prophets in holy writings,) concerning his Son (come of David's seed according to flesh, marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead) Jesus Christ our Lord;"
Then Earl writes: "Is it a piece of historical information? If so, it is the only one Paul ever give us, for no other feature of Jesus' human incarnation appears in his letter."
Shock!!! I'll answer that later ...

Then Doherty actually does not address the issue of a human Jesus straight on, but drifts away from it by questioning the meaning of "God's gospel" --not one from Jesus-- (I agree with that), the historicity of 'Son of David', the origin of 'Son of God' and finally by introducing his concept of the fleshy lower heaven. Nothing much is related to the "incarnation"; only some "explanation" is thrown against it, such as:
"... for scripture was full of predictions that the Messiah would be descended from David. In reading these, Paul would have applied them to his own version of the Christ, the Christ who is a spiritual entity, not a human one."
So now human ancestry was assigned to Jesus by Paul, even if the later (allegedly) thought Christ was never an earthly man! Does that make sense? Of course not. If angel Gabriel is thought to be a spiritual entity, you do not make him a descendant of Moses!
Furthermore, Earl's argumentation is dependant on Paul being the first one to claim Christ's ancestry from David. Is is realistic?
According to the Pauline letters, there were many other apostles/preachers (1Co1:12,9:2-5; 2Co11:5,13,23a,12:11; Php1:14-17; Gal1:6-7), some "in Christ" before Paul (Ro16:7), some preaching different 'Jesus' (2Co11:4), and all of them Jew (2Co11:22-23a): in this context, what are the odds on Paul making this "discovery"?

Doherty postulates "from the seed of David" is part of "God's gospel" (drawn from the scriptures by Paul, as Earl contends). This seems to be largely due to his (inaccurate) translation:
"the gospel concerning his Son who arose from the seed of David ..." (Ro1:3)
That's partly from the RSV, but the Greek does NOT have "the gospel" and "who "(&"arose" is Earl's own translation)!
The only occurrence of "gospel" ("glad tidings" Darby) in Ro1:1-8 is in the first verse, and, two later, does not likely affect "from ... David", itself part of a digression about "his Son". Furthermore "separated to [set apart for] God's glad tidings" (with verse 2 as its addendum) is a clause on its own, about an action which happened and is already completed (because of the Greek perfect tense of the verb).
Finally, by skipping over the two extensions (as shown in the Darby translation), the syntax of Ro1:1-6 may be rendered as such:
bondman of Jesus Christ,
[a] called apostle,
[in the past] to God's glad tidings, (which ...),
[now!] his Son (come ...) Jesus Christ our Lord; by whom we have received grace and apostleship in behalf of his name, for obedience of faith among all the nations, among whom are *ye* also [the] called of Jesus Christ:" Darby

a) "concerning ..." looks to be a clause on its own, related to "Paul", part of a multi-part flamboyant announcement and not an addendum on what immediately precedes.
b) The digression starting by "come of David's seed ..." is linked to "his Son" and not likely to "God's glad tidings" (assuming "his Son" is!). And why would a descendance from David be "good news" for Gentiles?

To conclude, it is highly improbable Paul meant he just found "come of David's seed" from the scriptures (and had to divulge it!), as Doherty contends. More to come ...

And Doherty keeps obsessively interpreting anything as concerning an entirely mythical Jesus: again for him, "according to the flesh" becomes "in the sphere of the flesh", with the "sphere" being "the lowest heavenly sphere, associated with the material world"!
The translation as "in the sphere of the flesh" is according to Doherty "a suggestion put forward by C. K. Barrett." He adds "Such a translation is, in fact, quite useful and possibly accurate." No doubt! Doherty is treating that "possibly accurate" "suggestion" from "a translation" as if it were a piece of primary evidence.

But Doherty does not stop here. He contends "according to the spirit" can also be translated as "in the sphere of the "spirit"" (and from NO "suggestion" by anyone else!). On the next page (85), that opens the way for the concept of the two heavenly spheres, the one of the "flesh" (where Jesus is crucified) and, above, the one of the "spirit" (where the heavenly Jesus and God reside)!
Not bad for only one word from a suggested translation!
My dictionary includes in its definition for 'sphere': range, field of action, province, etc. My thesaurus shows domain, field, realm, way of life, etc. Did Doherty consider those? Obviously not!
But what did Barrett mean by "sphere" in that context? Here it is:
"The preposition here rendered 'in the sphere of' could also be rendered 'according to,' and 'according to the flesh' is a common Pauline phrase; in this verse, however, Paul does not mean that on a fleshly (human) judgment Jesus was a descendant of David, but that in the realm denoted by the word flesh (humanity) he was truly a descendant of David." C. K. Barrett, The Epistle to the Romans, page 78
Barrett never meant a fleshy heaven, in any context. Not even close!

Is there nothing else about a human Jesus in 'Romans'? Of course not, but all of the ensuing verses from 'Romans' are ignored in Doherty's book:
A) Ro15:12 Darby "And again, Esaias says, There shall be the root of Jesse [David's father], and one [Christ, according to Paul] that arises, to rule over [the] nations: in him shall [the] nations hopes."
Here Jesus' alleged descendance from David is reiterated.
B) Ro8:3 Darby "... God, having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin ..."
Don't we have a clear expression for incarnation? See here for an explanation on "likeness".
C) Ro9:4-5a YLT "Israelites, ... whose [are] the fathers, and of whom [is] the Christ, according to the flesh ..."
Here Jesus is from Israelites, "according to the flesh". Who else are Israelites? Paul, according to Ro11:1, quoted later, and also many of his contemporaries, by flesh:
Ro9:3b-4a NASB "... my brethren, my kinsmen [Paul's] according to the flesh, who are Israelites ..."
Did Paul think himself and his brethren/kinsmen lived "in the sphere of the flesh", some upper world above earth?
D) Ro5:15 Darby "... much rather has the grace of God, and the free gift in grace, which [is] by the one man Jesus Christ, abounded unto the many."

A) "according to the flesh" ('kata sarka', also translatable as "by flesh"), relative to human & earthly origin, is also used by Paul in:
Gal4:23 NKJV "But he [Ishmael, whose father is Abraham)] who was of the bondwoman [Hagar] was born according to the flesh ['kata sarka'], and he [Isaac] of the freewoman [Sarah, Abraham's wife] through promise [from God, but still fathered by Abraham]," (according to Ge16:1-16,21:2-5).
Does "according to the flesh" entail that "sphere" in the lower heavens?
B) For Jesus, Paul used "come/came" (root 'ginomai', which most "normal" translation would be "become") (Ro1:3, Gal4:4) instead of "born" (root 'gennao'), most likely in order to take in account the belief about Christ's pre-existence (well in evidence in 'Romans' and 'Galatians'): "born" would imply Christ was not existing before his human birth, but "come/made" suggests incarnation. Paul used the same expression in Gal4:4 Darby "... God sent forth his Son, come of woman, come under law".
C) In other Paul's epistles, there is more evidence about Jesus being from Israelites & Abraham, and again a man (as Adam), none of it mentioned by Doherty:
Gal3:16 Darby "But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he [God] does not say, And to seeds [of Abraham], as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed; which is Christ."
1Co15:21-22 Darby "For since by man [came] death, by man also resurrection of [those that are] dead. For as in the Adam all die, thus also in the Christ all shall be made alive."
Who else is of the seed of Abraham in 'Romans'?
a) Ro11:1 Darby "I [Paul] say then, Has God cast away his people [Israel]? Far be the thought. For *I* also am an Israelite, of [the] seed of Abraham, of [the] tribe of Benjamin."
So "flesh & blood" earthly Paul is also from the seed of Abraham!
b) Ro9:7 NKJV "nor are they all children because they [Jews of Israelite descent] are the seed of Abraham ..."
Most Jews were also from the seed of Abraham during Paul's days!
Outside of 'Romans', other Abraham's seed ('sperma') are also human & earthly, as for Paul's Christians in Galatia (figuratively only), Jews and Paul himself:
D) Gal3:29 NKJV "And if you [the recipients of the epistle] are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to ['kata'] the promise."
E) 2Co11:22 NKJV "Are they [other apostles] Hebrews? So am I [Paul]. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I."

So I think Doherty should reconsider "no other feature of Jesus' human incarnation appears in his letter"! And we have ample evidence the seeds of Abraham and descendants of Israelites (such as Paul) were all understood as earthly humans. Why would it be different for Jesus?

But why did Paul suddenly announce the Son (Jesus) "come of David's seed according to flesh", when he never made use of it next (except much later and briefly in Ro15:12)? And when Paul never depicted Jesus as King? And right at the very beginning of his epistle?
Paul was addressing a remote audience whom he never met (except a few, according to Ro16:3-16a), but expected his letter to be read also by/to Jews (Ro2:17, etc.). Such a statement would immediately attract their attention (favorably). But what about the others, the Gentiles? Could Paul have taken the risk to turn them off early on by claiming a (very much) Jewish attribute (unheard of before, according to Earl), and not even necessary for his ensuing discussion? Of course not!
Therefore, Jesus, as "Son of David", had to be already widely allowed, and Paul knew it. So he could mention it, out of the blue, without upsetting (or confusing!) anyone.

Note: in the front of his epistle (up to 2:17), it seems Paul tried to soften up his Jewish audience:
a) "concerning his Son (come of David's seed according to flesh,)" (Ro1:3 Darby)
b) "marked out Son of God in power, ... by resurrection of [the] dead" (Ro1:4 Darby)
It appears here there is no pre-existence for the Son, who is revealed only by his (alleged) resurrection.
c) Jesus is never identified as solely "(the) Lord".
d) From 1:10 to 2:15, there are twenty-four mentions of "God" in a row, with no Jesus/Son/Lord/Christ in between.
It is only after alluding to God's wrath to come and writing "in [the] day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my glad tidings, by Jesus Christ." (2:16 Darby) that Paul confronted the Jews about the Law and circumcision.

3.2. Jesus as from a woman:

3.2.1. Doherty on Galatians4:4
Gal4:4 YLT "... God sent forth His Son, come ['ginomai'] of a woman, come under the law"
In chapter 12, page 123-125, Doherty comments on "born of woman" from Gal4:4. He admits this passage "most suggests that he [Paul] has a human Jesus in mind."
But then he goes to work, starting by "God sent his own Son", but "forget" to take in account Ro8:3 Darby "... God, having sent his own Son, in likeness of flesh of sin ..." (the "sent" Son is not a spirit, as Earl argues (p.123) (& why would a woman be needed for the Son to "become" a spirit)! See also here for an explanation on "likeness")!
His convoluted argumentation does not disprove anything and looks rather like a series of red herrings. He is trying to raise doubts by way of speculative suppositions, using expressions "this can be taken", "seem", "not necessarily tied", "do not have to be seen" & "one interpretation that could be given" in order to counteract the obvious.
And any writing/myth known during Paul's time is considered a likely inspiration, such as Isa7:14 and Dionysos' birth, as if no man were born of woman in antiquity!
Doherty ventures "National gods were often regarded as having the same lineage as the nation itself, which is one interpretation that could be given to Christ as "born" under the Law [as a Jew]."
But he does not give any example for these "national" gods with their lineage (personally I know of none).
Finally Earl goes into some flamboyant rhetoric, calling for "dramatic reversal, even on the order of something like the Copernican revolution in astronomy" to change our views on Jesus' human origin. May I say Copernicus came with evidence for his theories, when Doherty can only be doubtful about 'Jesus as born of woman' and fling "feathers" at it.
3.2.2. Comments on Richard Carrier's review on Doherty's book about Galatians4:4
Richard wrote: "I am surprised he doesn't point out the most important support for his position: the fact that Paul actually says in the same letter that one woman he is talking about is allegorical, representing the "heavenly" Jerusalem, not an actual woman (Gal. 4:23-31)."
Carrier is correct into mentioning the allegorical woman in Gal4:26-27 (even if 'woman' is never spelled out!), but the whole passage (Gal4:24-27) is presented as an allegory. It is only here that Paul used the word-root 'allegoreo' (allegory) and also 'sustoicheo' (correspond) in all his epistles. Therefore he indicated the ensuing verses should not to be taken literally, including the "our mother" in 4:26 (the heavenly Jerusalem) and the "her" in 4:27 (as a quote from Isa54:1, where she is Jerusalem). In any case, Paul was clear about not referring to a real human female here. He did not even employ the word 'woman'!
And he never said the woman in Gal4:4 stands for the heavenly Jerusalem! Furthermore, all other women in Paul's letters are earthly ones, including the two right after Gal4:4, the biblical Hagar and Sarah (not named but identified as the "freewoman") (Gal4:21-25).
I quote the passage in question now. Judge for yourself:
Gal4:24-27 Darby "Which things have an allegorical sense; for these are two covenants: one from mount Sinai, gendering to bondage, which is Hagar. For Hagar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which [is] now, for she is in bondage with her children; but the Jerusalem above is free, which is our mother. For it is written,
Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break out and cry, thou that travailest not; because the children of the desolate are more numerous than [those] of her that has a husband."

3.2.3. By examining the whole of Galatians3:15-4:7, can we figure out what kind of woman Paul was thinking for Gal4:4?
Paul started by making a claim: "But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed; which is Christ."(3:16 Darby)
That seems to refer to Genesis17-22 but it is never specified here according to Paul's words. Anyway, the promise is about inheritance (3:18) for all (Gentiles and Jews --3:28-29,3:8,14) but the former is supplanted by the Law "until the seed [Christ] came ['erchomai', clear expression of the first coming!] to whom the promise was made" (3:16,19). Then everyone would be liberated from the Law by Christ (3:22-24,3:13) and "the promise, on the principle of faith of Jesus Christ, should be given to those that believe." (3:22), allowing Paul's Galatians to be God's sons & heirs and honorary seeds of Abraham (3:29,4:7,3:7).
What remains is for the Son/Christ to come as the seed of Abraham, that is as a Jew and earthly human (as other seeds of Abraham, like Paul, as previously discussed), in order to enable the promise. So we have:
Gal4:4-7 Darby "but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, come of woman [as an earthly human], come under law [as a Jew], that he might redeem those under law, that we might receive sonship. But because you are [Greek present tense] sons ... So you are [present again] no longer bondman, but son ..."
So Paul was thinking about an earthly "flesh & blood" mother! And Christ had already come and gone (1:1)!

3.3. James as brother of the Lord (Jesus):

3.3.1. Comments on Galatians 1:19
In chapter 6, page 57, Doherty tackles the problem caused by "James, the brother of the Lord" (Gal1:19). Here is the whole passage:
Gal1:18-19 Darby "Then after three years I [Paul] went up to Jerusalem to make acquaintance with Peter, and I remained with him fifteen days; but I saw none other of the apostles, but James the brother of the Lord."
First, Doherty states the term "brother(s)" ('adelphos', also translated as "brethren") appears often in Paul's epistles to indicate 'Christian(s)'.
Certainly, and even nowadays, it is used extensively in the fields of religion, cult, ethnicity, labor union, monastic institution, etc., in order to indicate the ones in the same group (of yours). It also confers a notion of equality, similarity & close association.

Then Doherty claims that "brother of the [Greek 'tou'] Lord" has the same meaning than "brothers in the [Greek 'en'] Lord" (as appearing only in Philippians1:14, meaning Christian preachers).
Here I object: Paul used often "in (the) Lord" or "in Christ" meaning "Christian(s)" or "in the Christian faith" (such as, for example:
Romans 16:11 Darby "Salute Herodion, my kinsman. Salute those who belong to Narcissus, who are in [the] Lord."
Ro16:7 NKJV "Greet Andronicus and Junia, ... who also were in Christ before me."
Ro16:8 Darby "Salute Amplias, my beloved in the Lord.")
but he never wrote "of the Lord" in a similar context. If Paul wanted to express James was a Christian, why didn't he write "James, brother in the Lord"?

Note: the form "brother(s)/brethren/mother of (Greek 'tou') someone" appears in Mk3:17 ("John the brother of James"), Josephus' Wars, I,II,1 ("Jonathan's brother") (also I,XXIV,2), Josephus' Antiquities, II,II,4 ("Joseph's brethren") (also XII,XI,2 & XIII,VIII,2), Josephus' life (39 & 40) and in Jn2:1, Jn2:3, Acts1:14 ("Jesus' mother" or "mother of Jesus", depending on the translation).

Later, Earl suggests the group in Jerusalem, headed by James, "seems to have called itself "brethren of/in the Lord." But we do not have any evidence on that whatsoever. In the NT, they are referred as 'the church of Jerusalem', the 'poor' (of Jerusalem) or the 'saints/holy ones' (of Jerusalem) but never as what Doherty postulated. Actually, Paul never said those were "in (the) Lord" or "in Christ", not even "brothers/brethren". And James is the only individual identified as "brother of the Lord". Other pillars of that church, as named by Paul (Peter/Cephas and John), are not.
Could a group or individual be titled "brother(s) of the Lord" in Jerusalem then? That would be understood as "brother(s) of Yahweh" by Jews, consequently extremely presumptuous and, considering the title deifies the bearer(s) (breaking up the sacred monotheism), overly sacrilegeous & liable of execution!

Note: the closest equivalent of that title, as related in ancient writings, is one that Caius (Caligula) attributed to himself:
Josephus' Ant., XIX, I, 1, "He also asserted his own divinity, and insisted on greater honors to be paid him by his subjects than are due to mankind. He also frequented that temple of Jupiter which they style the Capitol, which is with them the most holy of all their temples, and had boldness enough to call himself the brother of Jupiter."
Maybe a self-deified Roman emperor could claim being the brother of a god (and survive for a while!), but what about a regular Jew regarding God, in Jerusalem? Simply preposterous.

Further on, Earl makes an argument from silence (as he is well known to do a lot!): because James is not said to be Jesus' sibling in 'James', Christians then did not know about it! And, as in an act of desperation, in note 26 (p.335) Doherty suggests a Christian interpolation.
But there is another time when "brothers of the Lord" is used, and rather casually, in 1Co9:5 ("Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?" NASB). So the expression in Gal1:19 is not unique.
And then, this is the first reference of "James" in 'Galatians'. But at the time (around 38) of Paul's first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (as narrated in Gal1:18-20) there was another prominent member of the "church of Jerusalem" named James, the brother of John, who got executed around 42 (according to Ac12:1-2). Therefore, Paul probably wanted to identify the "James" he met then, more so because this one became most important later.

a) "Lord", Paul's favored title for Jesus, is used in passages relating to a "flesh & blood":
1Co11:23-25 Darby "the Lord Jesus, in the night in which he was delivered up, took bread, ... after having supped [supper] ..."
1Co11:27 Darby "So that whosoever shall eat the bread, or drink the cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty in respect of the body and of the blood of the Lord."
Php2:5-11 NIV "Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: ... taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself ... and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord ..."
b) Out of the six other occurrences of 'lord' in 'Galatians', five (1:3 "our Lord Jesus Christ"; 5:10 "in (the) Lord"; 6:14,16,17) are about Christ and none about God. The sixth one (4:1) refers to a heir, generally.
'Jesus' occurs in 'Galatians' (15 times), but never on its own, always accompanied by either 'Christ' (1:1,12;2:4,16(2);3:1,14,22,26,28;4:14;5:6) or 'Lord' (6:17) or both (1:3;6:14,18). But in one instance 'Lord' (meaning Jesus) is without 'Jesus' (5:10) (not including "brother of the Lord" --1:19).
c) For what other reason Paul did not write "James, the brother of Jesus"?
Paul was not the one to stress the humanity of his mostly heavenly Jesus, via having him, by his human name, as brother of a mortal.
3.3.2. Comments on Josephus' Antiquities, XX, IX, 1
Doherty comments on it are in his chapter 21, page 216-222.
First, I'll quote the passage in question:
"But this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrim of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James [better translated as "James by name"], and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned:
but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king, desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for that what he had already done was not to be justified; nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus, as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a sanhedrim without his consent.
Whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which king Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest."

Immediately Doherty acknowledges "The argument against the second passage referring to Jesus [the one just quoted] ... is more subtle and requires a consideration of external factors." Then Earl makes six points against the reference of "Jesus". Let's look at each one: The earliest manuscript is dated 10th century. So Earl thinks it could be a late inclusion. The same text is quoted by Eusebius (around 320), even if this bishop preferred Hegesippus' rendition, which is very different (and embellished) from Josephus' one.
Then why would an interpolator identify a 'James' as Jesus' brother, making a passage from Josephus' work conflicting with a text written earlier (around 165), raising doubts about the veracity of a Christian writing (by Hegesippus)?
See the two complete passages here Doherty speculates that "James by name" was originally on its own. But Josephus had the habit (with very few exceptions) to provide some further identification for any new character. As example, for all the other 'James' in Josephus' works, we have:
- "James, the son of Sosa" (Wars, VI, I, 8)
- "the sons of [former rebel] Judas of Galilee were now slain; ... The names of those sons were James and Simon" (Ant., XX, V, 2)
- "one of my guards, whose name was James" (Life, 18)
And a motivation of Josephus for naming Jesus (the so-called Christ) may well be to associate him with a breaker of the law.
On page 222, Earl exclaims "Why did Josephus not identify James more fully ...". But when the historian does just that (by saying James is Jesus' brother), Doherty suspects an interpolation!
Futhermore, it is very unlikely Josephus thought of "James" as just a man with a name, because he mentioned "others" were implicated with him; same charge, same trial, and same outcome: that suggests "the others" belonged to the same group, with James the best known and most prominent among them. Doherty mentions "him called Christ" ('tou legomenou christou') appearing also in Mt1:16 & Jn4:25. But there, it is slightly different ('ho legomenos christos'). Then he proceeds "The second suspicious aspect of the reference to Jesus is that it comes first in the text.". But Josephus did just that many times. Here are a few examples:
- "a man of Gischala [Galilee], the son of Levi, whose name was John [a Zealot leader]." (Wars, II, XXI, 1)
- "one of the priests, the son of Thebuthus, whose name was Jesus ..." (Wars, VI, VIII, 3)
- "there was one son of Ahimelech, whose name was Abiathar" (Ant., VI, XII, 6)
- "a daughter of Solomon's, whose name was Basima" (Ant., VIII, II, 2)
- "a brother of his [Jehoahaz], by the father's side, whose name was Eliakim" (Ant., X, V, 2)
- "Now about this time a son of Jeshua, whose name was Joacim, was the high priest" (Ant., XI, V, 1)
- "the sons of [former rebel] Judas of Galilee were now slain; ... The names of those sons were James and Simon" (Ant., XX, V, 2)

a) Josephus also used many expressions similar to "Jesus, who was called Christ". Here are a few of them, all from 'Antiquities':
"Quintus Metellus, who was called Metellus of Crete" (XIV, I, 2)
"Ptolemy, who was called Philometor" (XIII, III, 6) (Philometor means "mother-loving")
"his brother Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes" (XII, IV, 11)
Question: did Josephus believe that later king to be "God made manifest" (= Epiphanes)?
Certainly not, because he considered him to be evil for the Jews. In other words, Josephus acknowledged the commonly used epithet, but not as a real title/description. The same would apply to "called Christ" which does not mean the historian saw Jesus as the Christ!
And here, surprise, the king is referenced through his brother, not his father (even if the later was illustrious: Antiochus the Great).
b) Origen knew that "Jesus who is called Christ" did not mean "Jesus who is the Christ":
"James, the brother of Jesus who is called Christ. And the wonderful thing is, that, though he [Josephus] did not accept Jesus as Christ..." (Commentary on Matthew, X, 17) It has been argued a Christian interpolator would have mentioned Jesus with more than a few words. That's what Earl reports. Let's think about it:
- If the interpolation here was done after the one in Ant.18, the Testimonium Flavianum (TF) (Doherty & I take that one as totally spurious), then I think we would see more about Jesus than just a stern "the one called Christ".
- If done before, possibly not: why expand on Jesus, when it is James who was executed? Doherty commented about the same. But still, most Christian interpolators had a tendency to embellish (or Christianize) on anything they would insert (as for the TF) in a non-Christian text! Doherty relates the double identifications: one for James by way of 'Jesus', the other for Jesus through "the one called Christ". First, he writes: "it implies that the historian had explained just what "the Christ" was at some previous point."
I do not agree with that:
a) The audience of Josephus in the 90's, the educated Romans, were most likely aware of Christians, which term is derived from "Christ", the later being known as (at least) the (alleged) founder of the sect. Certainly Tacitus and Pliny the younger, writing some fifteen years after Josephus did (93), were aware of that. Furthermore, Nero's persecution against them, about thirty years before, was certain to make the Christians well known.
So the Roman intelligentsia could relate to "Christ" the same way Christians now associate Buddha with Buddhism.
Note: "Buddha" is not a human name, but a title, the "Enlightened".
b) Josephus identified some new "players" through a relative not mentioned before (out of the blue!):
- "one of the priests, the son of Thebuthus, whose name was Jesus" (Wars, VI, VIII, 3)
This is the only mention of "Thebuthus" in 'Wars'.
- "he had also another daughter by Petina, whose name was Antonia." (Wars, II, XII, 8)
This is the only mention of "Petina" in "Wars". Petina was the second wife of Claudius (he went through four of them).
- "After this Caesar sent Felix, the brother of Pallas, to be procurator of Galilee, and Samaria, and Perea ..." (Wars, II, XII, 8)
This is the only mention of "Pallas" in 'Wars' (the 'Pallas' in Wars I, XXVIII, 8 is another person, the mother of one of Herod the Great's sons), but is known to us through other historical records: he was a favorite in the court of Claudius, then the one of Nero. Because procurators/prefects/governors are rarely identified with father or brother in Josephus' works, the mention of Pallas can be explained because the historian felt like it (and thought Pallas was known by his readers)!

See my page about the Testimonium Flavianum for more information about my position on this matter.

Then Doherty comments about Josephus avoiding messianic expectations. Certainly the Jewish historian was not (at least in his books) a messianist, but his mention of "him called Christ" does not make one out of him either! (just like the mention of "Antiochus, who was called Epiphanes" does not imply Josephus believed that king was a manifestation of God!) Doherty speculates the Christian addition "began as a marginal gloss", to be later "transferred into the text itself". Nothing is new here, because Earl has been pleading for an interpolation all along.

Finally, on more than three pages (219-222), Doherty makes a very long argument about "The "Lost Reference" to James and Jesus.", using it to "prove" his alleged interpolation in Ant , XX, IX, 1. This passage, considered spurious by almost all scholars, is reported by Origen (around 220) and quoted later by Eusebius (around 320). Here is the quotation from Eusebius' History of the Church (2, 23):
"These miseries befell the Jews by way of revenge of James the Righteous, who was the brother of Jesus who was called Christ; because they had slain him, who was a most righteous person."
And Origen witnessed it as implied by:
"he [Josephus] had a mind to set down what was the cause why the people suffered such miseries, till the very holy house is demolished, he said, that these things befell them by the anger of God, on account to of what they had dared to do to James, the brother of Jesus ..." (Commentary on Matthew, X, 17)
It takes more than two pages for Earl to conclude "the 'lost reference' must have been inserted into manuscripts of Josephus at a relatively early period, certainly within the second century." I would agree with that. But then he claims "Certain consequences seem clear. The phrase "the one called the Christ," is demonstrably Christian in nature [but that is denied by Origen, as previously mentioned. And "the" is not in the Greek]. Since the reference to Jesus is virtually identical in the two places, and one can be shown to be part of an interpolation, this increases the probability that the other is an interpolation as well."

Of course I would object. The interpolator of the 'lost reference', for the sake of making his bit look authentic, had reason to copy "the one called Christ", as found in Ant., XX, IX, 1! And the argument that if one is an interpolation, so the other, is totally unfounded. One example would be '2Thessalonians', a speudo-Pauline letter (as agreed by Earl, myself and many critical scholars) using some of the same terminology than '1Thessalonians' (or '1Corinthians'), written by Paul:
"Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus to the assembly of Thessalonians in God [the] Father and [the] Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to you and peace ..." (1Th1:1, 2Th1:1-2a Darby)
"... working night and day, not to be chargeable to any one of you ..." (1Th2:9, 2Th3:8 Darby)
"The salutation of [me] Paul with mine own hand ..." (1Co16:21, 2Th3:17 KJV)
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ [be] with you ..." (1Th5:28, 2Th3:18 Darby)
Then Doherty assumes the reference of Jesus in Ant., XX, IX, 1 was written after the 'lost reference'. This is pure speculation, more so when we note the embellishments from plain "James" to "James the righteous ... a most righteous person" and from the stoning of James causing only the removal of a high priest to his slaying precipitating miseries on the Jews by Divine revenge. More, if the passsing reference to "James" had been done after the "James the righteous" interpolated passage, further embellishment would be expected, but instead we have the opposite.
Another point: the Synoptic gospels suggest the fall of Jerusalem was caused by Divine revenge due to the Son's execution (Mk12:6-9), which is explained by its Jews choosing a Zealot-like insurrectionist (Barabbas, likely fictional) rather than Jesus (Mk15:7-15). Then why would an interpolator claim God's wrath on the Jews was because of James' execution rather than Jesus' one?
Except, of course, if that interpolator had (only) the one about James (Ant., XX, IX, 1) to work on (and influenced by Hegesippus' rendition of it!).

3.3.3. Conclusion on James, the brother of Jesus:
I do not think Doherty, despite all his efforts, is convincing against the authenticity of the combined mention of Jesus' brother in Galatians4:4 and Josephus' Antiquities, XX, IX, 1. Even if, at some points, he can raise some doubts. It looks Doherty, as usual, is agenda-driven and trying to eradicate any blood brother because that would prove a human Jesus. Let's also note that Josephus was living in Jerusalem around 62, where and when James was tried & stoned.

3.4. The humanity of Jesus in 'Hebrews':

Let's examine Doherty's arguments for every occurrence of a human-like Jesus in 'Hebrews':

3.4.1. Heb2:3 NASB "how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord ["which first (= originally) received/taken (as) spoken through (= by) the Lord"], it was confirmed to us by those who heard,"
Note: the translation in brackets seems the most accurate, if not elegant.

On Chapter 13, page 129, Doherty comments "Jesus would hardly have taught the unique christology contained in this epistle." But since when the mention of 'a salvation' means the whole christology of 'Hebrews'? Let's note Earl quotes ""For this salvation was first announced through the Lord" [based on the NEB]", but "this salvation" (which, for Earl, seems of the same "scenario" as the one in the letter) is NOT in the Greek! So Jesus may have spoken of "a salvation", period. Later, the author of 'Hebrews' "explained" how and why it got "enabled" (through the crucifixion and the "sacrifice", the later "demonstrated" from scriptures taken out of context! As explained in HJ-3b).
Then Doherty remarks "in fact, the voice of Jesus teaching on earth is never heard in 'Hebrews'; everything the Son "says" comes from the scriptures." I agree with Doherty, but that does not take away Jesus spoke about salvation (generally), even if the author did not care about the specifics. And Jesus speaking "in the days of his flesh" is mentioned in:
Heb5:7 Darby "Who in the days of his flesh, having offered up both supplications and entreaties to him who was able to save him out of death, with strong crying and tears; (and having been heard because of his piety;)"
By that time (more so after reading my first page), I think my readers will agree that "in the days of his flesh" relates to a Jesus on earth (and not in Doherty's heaven!). And here, Jesus speaks and is heard (this time allegedly to/by God).
Note: I am not saying the passage is authentic (here God hears, not human witnesses!), just that the author pictured Jesus on earth.

For added measure, here are some close parallels where "(of) your/our/my/his flesh" refers to earthly & human condition:
Ro6:19 Darby "I speak humanly on account of the weakness of your flesh."
2Co7:5 Darby "For indeed, when we came into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest ..."
Gal4:14 Darby "and my temptation, which [was] in my flesh, you did not slight nor reject with contempt; ..."
Gal6:8 Darby "For he that sows to his own flesh, shall reap corruption from the flesh ..."
Gal6:13 Darby "... but they wish you to be circumcised, that they may boast in your flesh ..."
Col1:22 Darby "in the body of his [Christ] flesh through death ..." (not by Paul, but Earl used 'Colossians' as if it were! Furthermore 'Colossians' was probably written before the gospels)
Heb12:9 Darby "Moreover we have had the [real!] fathers of our flesh as chasteners, and we reverenced [them] ..."

And here is something that Earl does not address in his book, about a very human Jesus:
Heb2:14-18 Darby "Since therefore the children [Christians/"brethren", according to 2:12-13] partake [Greek perfect tense: should read "partook"] of blood and flesh, he [Jesus] also, in like manner, took part in the same [Jesus was as much flesh & blood as the contemporary Christians. An unequivocal confirmation follows:], ... Wherefore it behoved him in all things to be made like to [his] brethren, ... , to make propitiation for the sins of the people; for, in that himself has suffered [Greek second perfect: the suffering is over with!], being tempted, he is able to help those that are being tempted [on earth!]."
Note: in 4:15 Darby "For we have not a high priest not able to sympathize with our infirmities, but tempted [Greek perfect tense] in all things in like manner ...", Jesus has already been tempted.
And where would this "testing" (the same as the one affecting earthlies!) have been? In the demonic fleshy mid-world (between heaven and earth) or the highest heaven? Or on earth, known for its "flesh and blood" "brethren", subjected to temptations (similar of the ones faced by a human Christ in the past)?

Finally, let's wonder where Jesus would have been an apostle, more so when all other "apostles" in the NT lived on earth.
Heb3:1 Darby "... consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus"
The author explained (at length!) how Jesus became "High Priest" (by the sacrifice of himself), but did not about "Apostle", likely because it was already known. And in 'Hebrews', it is corroborated by (already quoted):
NASB 2:3 "... a salvation... After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,"
And to whom would he have preached?
To Jews, according to Paul:
Ro15:8 Darby "For I [Paul] say that Jesus Christ became a minister ['diakonos'] of [the] circumcision [Jews] for [the] truth of God, ..."
Note: "became" (root 'ginomai') can be translated as "came to pass" or "happened" (according to Strong). The verb is in the Greek perfect tense; therefore the action has been completed in the past.

3.4.2. Heb7:14 Darby "For it is clear that our Lord has sprung out of Juda [as David], as to which tribe Moses spake nothing as to priests."
Doherty comments on that through note 44, on page 340.
Earl starts by saying the statement is drawn from scriptures and therefore is not historical. But does someone claimed to be (truly or through scriptures) "sprung" from an Israelite tribe (or David, or Abraham) preclude the past existence of that person? Of course not. As a matter of fact, here, the author has Jesus ("our Lord") as an earthly human being, as for every descendant from any Israelite tribe.
Doherty argues on "the word "prodelon" means "clear, manifest"", does not say "a matter of historical record". For evidence, 1Ti5:24-25 is cited (only here the aforementioned word occurs in the NT outside Heb7:14). Let's look at it:
1Ti5:24-25 NASB "The sins of some men are quite evident [Greek root 'prodelos'], going before them to judgment; for others, their sins follow after. Likewise also, deeds that are good are quite evident ['prodelos'], and those which are otherwise cannot be concealed."
The translation as "evident" (or "clear", or "manifest") is justified by the context. But here Doherty notices the word relates only "to the senses or to judgment". It may happen this way in these two verses, but did Earl check outside the NT for occurrences of 'prodelos', in order to confirm this word is only used in that particular context? No mention! And '1Timothy' was not even written by the author of 'Hebrews'!
Note: here are two examples from Josephus' Wars about the usage of 'prodelos':
- II, III, 1 "This was foreseen by Varus, who accordingly, after Archelaus was sailed, went up to Jerusalem to restrain the promoters of the sedition, since it was manifest that the nation would not be at rest;"
- IV, IV, 5 "prodigious storm ... very strong winds ... largest showers of rain ... continual lightnings ... terrible thunderings ... These thing were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men,"
The first "manifest" relates to happenings, one already occurring (promotion of sedition), the other anticipated (troubles). Also it suggests a widely accepted belief then (about future agitation). The second one is linked to past & known events (seen as portents by Josephus).
It is clear the meaning of 'prodelos' is not as restricted as Earl contends.
Doherty writes: "there is no appeal to historical facts, or apostolic traditions concerning Jesus of Nazareth, no reference to Joseph and Mary, no mention of his lineage ..."
This is typical of Earl, who presupposes every reference to a human-like Jesus should come with many details attached. But why would the author digress on that here? His purpose is to demonstrate Jesus was not from the tribe normally assigned the priesthood, the Levites, as Doherty points out: "The point is, Christ must be of a new line in order to create a new order of priesthood." And why should more details be supplied when 'Jesus from the tribe of Judah' is already "manifest"? More so if Jesus, as a descendant of David (and father Jesse), was already "known" by Christians (see Ro1:3 & Ro15:12)!
Let's note here the author "explained" many things in the epistle, such as Jesus was pre-existent, the Son of God and, above all, performed the ultimate Sacrifice for sins (all of that new for his audience, according to Heb6:1-3). But the "manifest" descendance from the tribe of Judah comes out of the blue and is never "demonstrated": in all likelihood, the writer knew it was already allowed by his audience.

Earl remarks "The verb "anatellein," to spring (by birth), is also the language of scripture." Then he cites Ezekiel29:21 & Zechariah6:12. But that should not be surprising, because 'Hebrews' shows its author was an expert in scriptures. And then we have "Hebrews never says that Jesus is a descendent of David". What for? 'Hebrews' is not about Christ as the great Jewish King!

To conclude, Doherty can only throw "feathers" to that very damaging piece of evidence which goes against his theories.

3.4.3. Heb9:26 Darby "But now once in the consummation of the ages he has been manifested [Greek perfect tense] for [the] putting away of sin by his sacrifice."

In chapter 3, page 37, Doherty comments on the verse: "the author of Hebrews also uses phaneroo ("manifest") in speaking to what has happened in the present time." He goes on "... a whole range of Christians writers would consistently use this sort of language to speak of Christ's coming in the present time ..."
But "has been manifested" is in the Greek perfect tense and consequently this action happened and was completed in the past! And not too long ago because of "now"! Other actions about Jesus depicted in 'Hebrews' with verbs in the (Greek) perfect tense include: sufferance (2:18), temptation (4:15), separation from sinners (7:26), opposition from sinners (12:3) and perfection (unto others) through the "sacrifice", "For by one offering he has perfected in perpetuity the sanctified" (10:14 Darby).

3.4.4. Heb8:4-5a Darby "If then indeed he were [Greek imperfect tense] upon earth, he would not even be [imperfect] a priest, there being [Greek present tense] those who offer [Greek present tense] the gifts according to the law, (who serve [present]...)"

In Appendix 5, pages 310-312, Doherty calls it a "startling verse" because the imperfect tense in "he were" "is strictly a past tense" (as rendered by "if he had been on earth"). But he admits "the meaning is probably present, or at least temporally ambiguous, much like the conditional sense in which most other translations render it [as quoted]". That does not prevent Doherty to go into his usual speculations, some founded on argument from silence, such as the author should have specified "now" (but did not!). That leads him to say: "making the statement at all seems to preclude the idea that Jesus had ever performed a sacrifice in the earthly realm." (back to where he started!). I'll counteract that:

A) According to the overall context, Jesus "upon earth" is a supposition of an action happening at the same time as for the priests officiating in the temple, in the present (relative to when the epistle was written).

B) There are several examples in the NT with the same grammatical syntax ("if I/you/he/it/we/they were"). I searched for all occurrences of those in the KJV. Here are the results (notice the pattern! That is, in a present reference, the imperfect tense is used for both sides of a conditional argument):

Note: all unspecified tenses of verbs are in the Greek aorist, or second aorist, (past) tense.
a) Lk7:39 Darby "... Pharisee ... saying [present], This [person] if he were [imperfect] a prophet would have known [imperfect] who and what the woman is who touches [present] him, for she is [present] a sinner."
b) Jn 8:42-43 Darby "... If God were [imperfect] your father ye would have loved me [imperfect], ... Why do ye not know [present] my speech? Because ye cannot hear [present] my word."
c) Jn8:39 Darby "They answered and said to him, Abraham is [present] our father. Jesus says [present] to them, If ye were [imperfect] Abraham's children, ye would do [imperfect] the works of Abraham;" (this is the best example)
d) Jn9:33 Darby "If this [man] were not [imperfect] of God he would be able to do [imperfect] nothing."
e) Jn9:41 Darby "Jesus said to them, If ye were [imperfect] blind ye would not have sin [imperfect]; but now ye say [present], We see [present], your sin remains [present]."
f) Jn15:19 "If ye were [imperfect] of the world, the world would love [imperfect] its own; but because ye are [present] not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on account of this the world hates [present] you." (another excellent example)
g) Jn18:30 Darby "They answered and said to him, If this [man] were not [imperfect] an evildoer, we should not have delivered him up to thee."
h) Ac20:16 YLT "for he hastened [imperfect], if it were [imperfect] possible for him, on the day of the Pentecost to be at Jerusalem."
i) 1Co12:19-22 Darby "But if all were [imperfect] one member, where [no verb! typically Pauline] the body? But now the members [are] many, and the body one. ... the members of the body which seem to be [present] weaker are [present] necessary;"

I found only three exceptions:
- Ro5:10 Darby "For if, being enemies, we have been reconciled [Greek second aorist tense] to God through the death of his Son, much rather, having been reconciled [second aorist], we shall be saved [Greek future tense] ..."
But "For if" means mainly "because" and does not introduce a supposition (they are reconciled for sure!).
- Mk15:44 NASB "And Pilate wondered if he was [Greek perfect tense] dead by this time; ..."
However no conditional clause follows because the "if" states a concern, not a hypothetical conjecture.
- Mk14:35 KJV "... he ... prayed [imperfect] that, if it were [present; should read "is"] possible, the hour might pass [second aorist] from him."
Possibly an example of the dreadful Greek of "Mark"

In the syntax "if X were ... , then ...", the imperfect tense is used twice in a present context. And "were" does not mean "had been". That should put to rest Doherty's speculations on the matter.

3.5. Recapitulation:

Once again, despite Doherty's efforts, the evidence points strongly to a human Jesus on earth. In Paul's epistles & 'Hebrews', he is described as a man and a descendant of Abraham, Israelites, the tribe of Judah, Jesse & David and also requiring a woman in order to "come" as a Jew. He lived in a world of "flesh & blood", as one of them, among sinners, some opposing him. There he was tempted (in the same way as other humans) and heard by (earthly) witnesses. This Jesus, at one time an apostle, had a brother called James, that Paul met several times and Josephus knew about. His "manifestation", suffering and "sacrifice" happened in the near past (relative to the "ministries" of Paul and the author of 'Hebrews').
Against these, the best that Earl can do is to raise some doubts or/and mistreat the evidence.

4. Conclusion:

Note: my web site documents the claims in this paragraph.
It is obvious Paul and the author of 'Hebrews', in their letters, did not care about the earthly Jesus, except as "Christ crucified". They were emphasizing the heavenly Deity, who, after being "sent" by God, performed the "sacrifice" and went back to heaven as the Savior (when God's wrath was expected soon!). These "teachings" were attracting & keeping converts among Gentiles; and consequently, in the epistles, there was no incentive to digress on a rather unsignificant lower class Jew (with a short public life in a small rural area, benefiting & then victim of hysteria & flukes!). On the contrary! Therefore the "silences" about the "historical Jesus" are understandable (even necessary!).
Furthermore, these letters were "occasional", dealing about issues, disbeliefs and problems surfacing then. It just happened 'where Jesus lived & died' was never one of them. Why?
Uncontested acceptance of some celestial fleshy realm (with in it Israelites, Jews, a woman, sinners, temptations, cross, supper, bread, cup!)?
Highly unrealistic! And that "lower heaven" would have generated storms of controversy.
The solution can only be Jesus had been witnessed to live and die in real & earthly places, as gleaned from Paul, other competing apostles, etc. (& with no disagreement!). Let's not forget the epistles were addressed to Christians whom the authors (and other preachers!) already met in person (only some of them regarding the Romans): what shows in the letters is not all of what had been told before!

However, and despite their (aforementioned) inclinations, both writers clearly had Jesus, in the near past, as a mortal "flesh & blood" Jew and descendant of human earthly ancestors. Either casually or as part of their theological/christological discussions, each one mentioned more details, such as Jesus was poor (2Co8:9), an apostle heard speaking about salvation (Heb3:1,2:3), a minister to the Jews (Ro15:8) and had brothers (1Co8:5,Gal1:19). Paul even alluded the "sacrifice" was "out of Zion" (from Jerusalem) (Ro9:31-33,15:26-27).

On these matters, Doherty either ignores, overlooks, doubts or harasses the primary evidence. He is prone to use inaccurate translations and biased "mythicist" interpretations, many on dubious latter texts, in order to claim his points. He cannot find half-decent attestations about belief in antiquity of a "lower fleshy heaven" (far from that!), so crucial for his position. To substitute for the lacks, Earl relies on rhetoric, agenda-driven dating, arguments from silence, assumptions and convoluted & largely unsubstantiated theories (with hypotheses stacked on each other!). Through such a horrific "methodology", the chances of him being right are insignificant.

But because Doherty's mythicist case wipes out, from the start, any chance for a legitimate historical origin of Christianity, he has and will have enthusiastic takers among non-Christians and atheists!