The Jesus Hoax: A Conversation with David Skrbina

Dr. David Skrbina makes the case that Christianity started as a hoax by St. Paul:

“Jesus of Nazareth is one of the most famous men in history.  There are good reasons to believe that he walked the earth some two thousand years ago, and was eventually crucified.

But what about Jesus Christ, son of God?  What if he never existed?  What if the divine, virgin-born, resurrected Jesus Christ was a myth, a lie—even a hoax?  That would have huge implications for modern-day Christianity; it would mean that there is a gigantic falsehood at the core of the religion of some two billion people.

In this book, Dr. David Skrbina presents a profound and stunning theory:  that St. Paul and a band of friends constructed a ‘Jesus hoax.’  They took a kernel of truth based on Jesus, the man, and turned him into the divine savior of humanity.  They did so as a way to strike back at the hated Roman Empire, and to undermine its strength among the common people.”

That is from the back cover of The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years, by Dr. David Skrbina.

This is the third part of series on Revisioning Christianity. Different scholars bring different views to help us understand the history of Christianity and its future. How did Christianity become empire’s religion? Is it believable today? Was it ever believable?

Does it yet have a message to inspire peace and justice? Or is it the result of a malicious hoax and a bad idea?

John Shuck’s five guests include

1) Bart Ehrman, author of the newly released, The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

2) John Dominic Crossan, who with his wife, Sarah Sexton Crossan have just released Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision.

3) John Shelby Spong, author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today,

4) Angela Yarber, creator of the Holy Women Icons Project, and this week,

5) David Skrbina, author of the newly released, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years,

Dr. David Skrbina is a senior lecturer in philosophy at the University of Michigan, Dearborn, where he’s taught since 2003.  His areas of expertise are philosophy of mind, philosophy of technology, and history of religion. Professor Skrbina’s books include Panpsychism in the West, The Metaphysics of Technology and Mind that Abides.

Professor Skrbina corresponded extensively with Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, and in 2010 published Technological Slavery. This was the first book written by Ted Kaczynski.  It contains the only corrected version of his manifesto, five previously unpublished essays, and about 100 pages of letters to Dr. Skrbina.

Dr. Skrbina is a pioneer in eco-philosophy encompassing ethics, metaphysics, and cosmology and is Deputy Director of the Eco-Philosophy Center. He ran for Lieutenant Governor for the state of Michigan in 2006 with the Green Party. He has a master’s degree in Mathematics and a Ph. D. In philosophy.

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The Triumph of Christianity: A Conversation with Bart Ehrman

Bart Ehrman asks how did a religion that began with a small group of illiterate day laborers become the dominant religion of the Roman Empire in just three centuries? What was gained and what was lost when the Roman Empire became the Christian Roman Empire?

This is the second part of series on Revisioning Christianity. Different scholars bring different views to help us understand the history of Christianity and its future. How did Christianity become empire’s religion? Was Christianity a hoax? Is it believable today? Does it yet have a message to inspire peace and justice?

John Shuck’s five guests include

1) John Dominic Crossan, who with his wife, Sarah Sexton Crossan have just released Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision.

2) John Shelby Spong, author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today,

3) David Skrbina, author of the newly released, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years,

4) Angela Yarber, creator of the Holy Women Icons Project, and this week,

5) Bart Ehrman, author of the newly released, The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

Bart Ehrman is a leading authority on the New Testament and the history of early Christianity. He is the author of more than 30 books and is Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has been on my program three times previously. Previously we discussed his books, Did Jesus Exist? Jesus Before the Gospels, and How Jesus Became God. Today we explore the question, “How did Christianity triumph?” His book is The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World.

Resisting Empire By Resurrecting Easter: A Conversation with John Dominic Crossan

John Shuck begins a five-part series on Revisioning Christianity. How did Christianity triumph? Was it a hoax? Is it unbelievable? Does it yet have a message to inspire peace and justice?

My five guests include:

1) Bart Ehrman, author of the newly released, The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World,

2) John Shelby Spong, author of the newly released, Unbelievable: Why Neither Ancient Creeds Nor the Reformation Can Produce a Living Faith Today,

3) David Skrbina, author of the newly released, The Jesus Hoax: How St. Paul’s Cabal Fooled the World for Two Thousand Years,

4) Angela Yarber, creator of the Holy Women Icons Project, and starting us off,

5) John Dominic Crossan, who with his wife, Sarah Sexton Crossan have just released Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Easter Vision.

Professor John Dominic Crossan is regarded as the foremost historical Jesus scholar of our time. He is the author of 30 or so books including his hugely influential, The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant.

This is the third time Professor Crossan has been on Progressive Spirit. Previously on this show we discussed his books, The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus became fiction about Jesus, and How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis Through Revelation.

In this episode, we discuss how the vision of Easter as depicted in the Eastern iconography of Anastasis “rising up” symbolizes non-violent resistance to empire.

The Real Causes and Solutions to Depression: A Conversation with Johann Hari

Johann Hari suffered from depression since he was a child and took anti-depressants as a teenager because he was told that depression is the result of a chemical imbalance in the brain. He went on a quest to see if this is really the case. In his book,  Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression—and the Unexpected Solutions, he discusses that journey. He interviewed many social scientists who are uncovering evidence that depression and anxiety are largely caused by key problems with the way we live today not brain chemistry.

Johann Hari is a New York Times best-selling author. His book, Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugshas been translated into 15 languages and is currently being adapted into a major Hollywood film, and into a non-fiction documentary series.

He is one of the most-viewed TED talkers of all time: his talk, ‘Everything You Think You Know About Addiction is Wrong’, has (along with the animation based on it) been viewed more than 20 million times.

He has written over the past seven years for some of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the Spectator, Le Monde Diplomatique, the Melbourne Age, and Politico. He has also appeared on leading TV shows, including HBO’s Realtime With Bill Maher.

He was twice named ‘National Newspaper Journalist of the Year’ by Amnesty International. He has also been named ‘Cultural Commentator of the Year’ and ‘Environmental Commentator of the Year’ at the Comment Awards.

PS 108 Hari Photo

I Will Not Fear: Melba Beals of the Little Rock Nine

In 1957, Melba Patillo Beals, was one of nine African-American high school students chosen to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She became a journalist, professor, author, and at the age of 52 adopted twin sons. In her book, I Will Not Fear: My Story of a Lifetime of Building Faith Under Fire, she tells her life story and how the faith she received from her grandmother grew and became her source of strength and inspiration.

In the interview, she takes us back to Little Rock in 1957. She recounts the hostility of the white mob, the overt and violent racism she encountered, and the ‘angels’ who helped her along the way.

PS 107 Melba photo

Analysis Of A Smear Campaign

[Reposted from Shuck and Jive]

UPDATE Saturday 10:40 am

Kevin Barrett, on March 16th’s False Flag Weekly News, talks about KBOO’s decision. The issue is about 9/11. Rather than debate, those who defend the official story censor.

The KBOO staff said the decision to cancel my interview at the last minute with Kevin Barrett was not due to “any type of pressure.” KBOO Program Advisory Committee member Herschel Soles sees it differently. He writes: “I heard via a call to the station that there were threats of cutting funding and death threats which suggest there was some pressure.”

UPDATE: Thursday 12:17 pm

AR Ross, an antifa leader of the smear campaign I wrote about below, has had an article he wrote removed from the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website.  The campaign against Barrett isn’t Mr. Ross’s first go-around regarding name-calling in an attempt to silence journalists and activists who are opposing the military industrial complex. According to Kevin Gastola of Shadowproof:

It lumped anti-war or anti-imperialist journalism in with the work of fascists, who are allegedly part of a massive Russian conspiracy to create a multipolar world where the United States is no longer the greatest superpower.

This is the SPLC’s “Explanation and Apology” for Ross’s article (Emphasis mine).

On March 9, 2018, we posted an article on our Hatewatch blog entitled “The multipolar spin: how fascists operationalize left-wing resentment.”

Shortly after its publication, we received complaints registered by or on behalf of several journalists mentioned in the article that it falsely described one or another of them as white supremacists, fascists, and/or anti-Semites, and falsely accused them of engaging in a conspiracy with the Putin regime to promote such views. Because neither we nor the article’s author intended to make any such accusations, we took it down while we re-examined its contents.

That re-examination has caused us to conclude that, while the intent of the article, which we thought was clear at the time of publication, was to show only that individuals on the left share some policy views with respect to multipolarism that are also held by the far right and/or appear on far-right media and conferences advocating them, the article did not make that point as clearly as it could or should have.

Accordingly, we have decided not to re-post it. In addition, we extend a sincere apology to those who believe they have been falsely described in it, including Max Blumenthal, Ben Norton, Tim Pool, Rania Khalek, and Brian Becker, and disclaim, as clearly as we can, any intention to suggest that any of them are white supremacists, fascists, and/or anti-Semites, that they hold such views, or that they are engaged in a conspiracy with the Russian government to promote such views or otherwise.

Meanwhile, KBOO’s management has released a statement about canceling Kevin Barrett’s appearance on my Friday show. When I spoke with them this morning, staff stated that the decision was not due to pressure. Morning news director, Derric Crooks, who was chiefly responsible for the decision, said he conducted his own research and helped draft the statement that said Barrett’s “speeches, writing, and other publicly available material are diametrically opposed to KBOO’s values.”

Obviously, I disagree.  Kevin is a well-researched scholar and academic and has sacrificed a great deal to point out some very uncomfortable truths about 9/11, Islamophobia, and Zionism which is exactly what we were going to talk about on my show.  The important stuff. Uncovering uncomfortable truths is a KBOO value.

UPDATE: Tuesday 5:59 PM

Kevin has declared a debate challenge with local antifa leader, AR Ross.

It has been an interesting series of events.

Dr. Kevin Barrett was not on my monthly KBOO show, Beloved Community, last Friday, March 9th as scheduled. Dr. Barrett is a Muslim and an Arabic scholar. We were going to discuss his thoughts about Islamophobia and what drives it.  Here is that story.

I had planned to have him on my show for some time and it received on-line and on-air promotions.  A couple of days before the show was to air, the Program Director sent me an email that had been sent to her, “”Stop Kevin Barrett from polluting the airwaves with anti-semitism….”

I knew it was a smear campaign when I first saw the trigger words (antisemite, holocaust denier, conspiracy theorist).  I didn’t take this email too seriously as I myself have been a target of smear campaigns. I wrote back to the program director that I would take responsibility because Kevin was my guest. I thought that would be it. I even replied to the RCA (Rose City Antifa) email and invited them to call in on the live show.

Then the smear campaign began in earnest. After a day’s worth of libelous Twitter attacks, emails and phone calls to KBOO, the staff (for reasons I am not sure as I have yet to speak with them), called me and forbade me from interviewing him. I love the staff and I assume the best of them. My guess is that they panicked.

Kevin offers his take on the bullying by RCA here (9:45) while speaking with Dr. John Andrew Morrow. By the way, Professor Morrow is an Islamic scholar, author and activist with The Covenants Initiative. I will be on a panel with him in Seattle April 28th for an interfaith event.

These are the Muslims who are ‘peace through justice and truth’ Muslims, not the Wahhabists. These covenants are about how to live together, how to coexist, Muslim and Christian. We keep saying, “Where are the peaceful Muslims?” Here they are. Do we really want to ban them from the airwaves?

My interest in having Kevin as a guest arose because I met him at a conference that was put on by Roots of Conflict. They invited me to moderate the discussion at Portland State on February 3rd  (Co-Sponsored by KBOO), because of my interfaith work with the masjid across from my church. We  have collaborated on the Ramadan Tent Project and shared birthday celebrations of prophets Mohammad and Jesus (Peace Be Upon Them).

This was the second conference in which Roots of Conflict had Kevin Barrett as a presenter. Here is a summation of the first. I was nervous about it at first as I knew he was outspoken about 9/11, but I said to myself, “These are the people my friends want me to hear. So I will.” 

My mind is opening. Islamophobia is real. Kevin has a defensible and interesting theory of how it arose and continues to do damage. Agree with his theory. Don’t agree. Or as I quoted Aristotle at the beginning of the conference,

“The mark of an educated mind is to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

Anyway, on Friday morning I had to scramble on what to air in the place of my interview with Dr. Barrett. Luckily, I had prepared a special program for my syndicated show, Progressive Spirit, featuring presentations by Dr. Aisha Jumaan and Mohammad Al-Nimr that were presented at the Roots of Conflict event at Portland State. KBOO was going to air it another time, but I decided to air it then in place of my live interview with Dr. Barrett.

[BTW, please listen to this and share widely. Look up Dr. Aisha Jumaan about the Yemen Catastrophe that would not happen without U.S. support. And look up the story of Saudi Cleric, Nimr Al-Nimr who was executed by the Saudis for speaking out about their human rights abuses.]

The irony is that Dr. Barrett also spoke at that event! I asked KBOO to co-sponsor it which it did.

Here is another irony. Sunday, I preached on Nicodemus. Nicodemus only appears in the Gospel of John and he appears three times.  Nicodemus is a member of the Pharisees, the religious establishment.  He is interested in Jesus and speaks with him about spiritual matters (chapter 3). Nicodemus also buys 75 pounds of spices to give Jesus a proper burial (chapter 19). In chapter 7, when Jesus is being maligned by religious leaders and their cops, Nicodemus comes to the defense of Jesus amidst a smear campaign.

Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’

The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’

Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.’

Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, ‘Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?’ 

They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.’ 

Smear campaigns are at least as old as the Bible and still as deadly. Before condemning him, maybe we should follow the wisdom of Nicodemus and give Dr. Kevin Barrett a hearing. Those who don’t like what he says can share their views too.

KBOO station management should hear from you about this.  As I wrote in my email to them:

It is important to me that Kevin not be considered an enemy (nor me for that matter) because we explore controversial and often taboo topics.  I want to be able to do that at KBOO and not freak you all out. I don’t want RCA members to be an enemy either, but I do want to call out this particular campaign tactic as unhealthy to a beloved community.

US – Saudi War Crimes Against Yemen

On February 3rd, 2018, Roots of Conflict and KBOO/Portland, co-sponsored a presentation at Portland State University called US-Saudi Coalition: Bringing Peace or War?

In this episode you will hear from Yemeni activist, Aisha Jumaan and Mohammad al-Nimr, son of executed Sheik Nimr. They speak boldly and clearly about the Saudi war crimes against Yemen that are assisted by the United States and the United Kingdom.

Dr. Aisha Jumaan is a public-health specialist working as a consultant on heath-related projects in Yemen. She offered a statistically detailed presentation of the human catastrophe going on in Yemen, as a result of the Saudi imposed war on that ancient country. More than fourteen million people require immediate humanitarian assistance and seven million are at risk of famine.

Dr. Jumaan is the President of Yemen Relief and Reconstruction Foundation.

Mohammad Al-Nimr, the son of Shia cleric, Shikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was executed by the Saudis for speaking out against Saudi human rights abuses, also spoke about the history of the formation of Saudi Arabia, its control by the royal family and Wahhabism and US complicity in the House of Sauds wars of aggression.

Special thanks to David Rogers for recording the event and giving Progressive Spirit permission to edit it for radio broadcast.

PS 106 Jumaan Nimr photo