This is just a quick note, mostly to myself, but also to you, dear readers, about my latest discovery. It turns out there exists a whole series of blog-posts relating to the Ascension of Isaiah at the blog Vridar, authored by Neil Godfrey, Roger Parvus, and perhaps a few others.
I haven’t read them as of yet, but I will soon.
While a number of different writers publish on the Vridar blog, the main “publisher” is apparently Neil Godfrey. According to the site’s “about” page, Godfrey is an Australian library scientist with a special interest in the study of Christian origins. His postings on that topic are mixed in among a variety of other randomly organized writings on a spectrum of interests.
A blogger after my own heart, to be sure!
Apparently Vridar gets associated—by its detractors? in spite of Godfrey’s protests to the contrary?—with the so-called “mythicist hypothesis” in Jesus-research, a school of thought called by some the Christ-myth-theory. This is the idea that “the Jesus of history” never existed. The view has a long pedigree, going back at least to Bruno Bauer in the mid-19th century.
I have no idea whether Vridar belongs to this scholarly camp or not, and no particular stake in the outcome of such disputes. I’m sure that Vridar has staked out some suitably nuanced position. A quick review of Godfrey’s bio and recent posts shows that he is a former Christian atheist who cares to examine and publicize so-called “secular” studies of Christian origins, and also that he is critical of theologians who do history. Naturally, this stance of his dooms his blog to being criticized by those who can’t get past the idea of secularists doing Biblical studies.
There is a relevant larger question about how we ought to theorize or describe the landscape of voices arguing over Christian Origins in the “blogosphere.” Insofar as it concerns the practices of “interpreters of the New Testament,” and “researchers on Christian origins,” such a question properly belongs to “religious studies.” If we ask what’s at stake among those squabbling about where Vridar should be positioned, relative to some “field,” we must begin a complex inquiry into the networks of actors and practitioners manufacturing their identities and affinities (as scholars, laypeople, experts, believers, non-believers, insiders, outsiders, members of schools and nations, etc.)—a tangled and diffuse web of contested discourses to be sure!
For the moment let’s not get caught up in all that. Right now I am just trying to get on with my (admittedly incohate) research on the Ascension of Isaiah. (“Full” disclosure: I not really ready to reveal, as of yet, why I care about this particular ancient book. But I will say something more on that soon.)
I will be interested to see what Godfrey and company make of the Ascension—by which I mean, to see what they do with it—and you can count on a follow-up here looking at their work.