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Dr. Hector Avalos - A Historical or Mythic Jesus? An Agnostic Viewpoint

  • Mar 16, 2014 · 10:30 AM

Scholars of Jesus usually divide themselves into Jesus historicists and Jesus mythicists. Historicists believe that there was a real historical person behind the Jesus of the Gospels even if there are many legendary additions to his biography. The historicists have an overwhelming majority, and include Bart Ehrman, a self-described agnostic, and virtually all Christian scholars. The mythicist position is a minority, and includes Robert Price, Earl Doherty, and Frank Zindler. They hold that Jesus is a completely fictional character, and perhaps originally part of a mystery religion. This lecture demonstrates that there is too little information from the time of Jesus to favor either side conclusively, and so agnosticism is the best position until more relevant new data can be acquired.

 Biography: Dr. Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies at Iowa State University, where he was named Professor of the Year in 1996, and a Master Teacher in 2003-04.  A former fundamentalist preacher and faith healer born in Nogales, Sonora, Mexico, Dr. Avalos is now one of the few openly atheist biblical scholars in academia. Avalos received a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona in 1982, and a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard Divinity School in 1985. In 1991, he became the first Mexican American to earn a Ph.D. in Hebrew Bible and Near Eastern Studies at Harvard. He is the author or editor of nine books, including Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005), The End of Biblical Studies (2007), and Slavery, Abolitionism, and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship(2011).

This event is sponsored by FreeThought Arizona and will be held at DuVal Auditorium

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  • Diane U.

    I enjoyed the presentation because it gave some follow up to some of the reading I had done previously by Dr. Avalos.

    March 17, 2014

  • Bobbie V.

    It was enlightening to hear his presentation. I hadn't thought much before about whether Jesus existed, just assumed it to be true. Now I'm wondering a lot about it. My friend also enjoyed his comments.

    March 16, 2014

  • Jim N.

    Carlos, I noticed the missing location at the top but at the bottom of the program write-up it does say it "will be held at DuVal Auditorium" as usual.

    March 15, 2014

  • Carlos M.

    Someone knows the location?

    March 15, 2014

  • John W. P.

    Hector and I publicly opposed religious groups on campus during the years when we were at Iowa State University. He generally focused on their biblical and religious claims, I on their (so-called) science.

    Long before Avalos joined the ISU faculty, my own Dean of Engineering was the most outspoken advocate, both on campus and off, for biblical inerrancy and a 6,000 -10,000 yr old age for the universe, which he called scientific creationism. In a 1982 paper published by the Iowa Academy of Science I, as one who was then teaching thermodynamics in Dean Boylan's College of Engineering, singled out Boylan as having authored of one of the most incompetent papers i had ever read on entropy and the second law. (Mine is available for $1.00 plus postage.) Hector hopes to visit Quail Creek (to or from visiting his mother in Nogales, Mexico on sat. afternoon March 15th. ). Shirley and I plan to break bread with him at our place on that occasion.

    1 · March 10, 2014

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