Proving History

  • by Richard Carrier
  • Narrated by Richard Carrier
  • 13 hrs and 3 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Anyone with an interest in historical methods, how historical knowledge can be justified, new applications of Bayes's Theorem, or the study of the historical Jesus will find this book to be essential reading. Almost all experts agree that the Jesus of the Bible is a composite of myth, legend, and some historical evidence. So what can we know about the real Jesus? For more than 150 years, scholars have attempted to answer this question.
Unfortunately, the quest for the historical Jesus has produced as many different images of the original Jesus as scholars who have studied the subject. The result is a confused mass of disparate opinions with no consensus view of what actually happened at the dawn of Christianity. And this uncertainty is not unique to the historical study of Jesus. The problems related to establishing the reliability of historical criteria apply equally to any historical analysis of the persons and events that have shaped our lives and the beliefs we hold dear.
This in-depth discussion of New Testament scholarship and the challenges of history as a whole proposes Bayes's Theorem, which deals with probabilities under conditions of uncertainty, as a solution to the problem of establishing reliable historical criteria. The author demonstrates that valid historical methods - not only in the study of Christian origins but in any historical study - can be described by, and reduced to, the logic of Bayes's Theorem. Conversely, he argues that any method that cannot be reduced to this theorem is invalid and should be abandoned.
Writing with thoroughness and clarity, the author explains Bayes's Theorem in terms that are easily understandable to professional historians and laypeople alike, employing nothing more than well-known primary school math. He then explores precisely how the theorem can be applied to history and addresses numerous challenges to and criticisms of its use in testing or justifying the conclusions that historians make about the important persons and events of the past. The traditional and established methods of historians are analyzed using the theorem, as well as all the major "historicity criteria" employed in the latest quest to establish the historicity of Jesus. The author demonstrates not only the deficiencies of these approaches but also ways to rehabilitate them using Bayes's Theorem.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

This is Mostly Technical. Read his other books!

What would have made Proving History better?

It's difficult to see how this could be improved as it is certainly a detailed piece of work, but much more suited to those who need to understand the technicalities of Bayes's Theorem.

Would you ever listen to anything by Richard Carrier again?

Yes, I've already listened to all his other Audio books, and they are excellent.

What does Richard Carrier bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Richard's tone and enthusiasm for his work is clearly evident.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


Any additional comments?

My lack of interest in this particular book is no way a criticism of Richard or the quality of his work. Indeed, it is clear that all his work is of the highest quality, but this book is just too technical for me. All his other books are excellent, and, for anyone interested in the field, 'On the Historicity of Jesus' is essential reading!

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Not much fun

Would you try another book written by Richard Carrier or narrated by Richard Carrier?


What was most disappointing about Richard Carrier’s story?

he spent hours saying basically the same thing

What didn’t you like about Richard Carrier’s performance?

A+C+D-true H = A lot of bored confused people

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Proving History?

Most of it

Any additional comments?


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- G. T. Dyson

Book Details

  • Release Date: 29-01-2014
  • Publisher: Pitchstone Publishing