Photos of readers

Well, here’s a new feature: photos of readers as they go about their everyday lives. If you want to be part of it—and this will hopefully be ongoing—just send me a photo of yourself doing something interesting, even if it’s just you at work, petting your cats (you do have one, don’t you?), or just about anything. The idea is to put faces to the names we read here every day.

The only Rool is that you should give your real name, though if you feel strongly that you don’t want to use it, your posting name.  And here’s the first one, sent by lutist Daniel Shoskes. It shows him and another regular, Peter Nothnagle, who, you might recall, wrote an epic document on the fictionality of Jesus. (Peter’s “regular” job is producing classical-music CDs.) There are two other musicians as well, though I don’t know if they’re “readers.”

Daniel’s caption:

Peter Nothnagle and I, faithful readers working together again to record another CD. (We have made 3 CDs together in the past. This is #4). I’m playing the Renaissance Lute. Soprano is Elena Mullins, with Rebecca Landell-Reed playing the viola da gamba. Church of the Resurrection near Cleveland, please forgive us our sins.
I invite readers to send similar photos, and I’ll put them up one at a time over an extended period.  Thanks!

30 Comments

  1. Charles Sawicki
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    Guys, thanks for your work on the fictionality of Jesus. Nice summary! I didn’t get the earlier post by JAC about this document. To quote Jerry:
    “One of the things that’s always puzzled me is the rush to judgment about the historical Jesus by Biblical scholars, nearly all of whom, including Bart Ehrman, are eager to say that a historical (not a divine!) Jesus is probable, despite the woeful lack of evidence.”
    Bart Ehrman support for historicity surprised me also. But. imagine if you grew up in the cult of Mickey Mouse and spent your life studying and writing about his works and life and someone argued there was no evidence that he existed. Really depressing and hard to admit that you spent your time on an imaginary character.

    • Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

      Well somebody founded Christianity. The only real dispute is whether the Jesus in Christian writings is based on that person.

      • Charles Sawicki
        Posted August 11, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

        The founding of Christianity is a lot more obscure than that of Islam, for example where there is good evidence for Mohammad. Christianity developed and grew much more slowly, maybe the work of a group instead of a charismatic leader?

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:47 pm | Permalink

          There’s actually no more evidence that Mohammed was real than Jesus. For example, archeologists have found no evidence of the evidence of Mecca until a couple of hundred years after Mohammed’s supposed death. There’s a lot more too. It’s just that Muslims don’t question his existence the same way Christians didn’t question the existence of Jesus not so long ago.

          • RPGNo1
            Posted August 12, 2019 at 10:00 am | Permalink

            Thank you very much for the information.

            I have not been aware, that the history of Mecca is shrouded in obscurity. But a look in the Wikipedia confirms that the Romans who had extensive commercial networks did not mention Mecca. I cannot imagine that this power would overlook an important trading town.

            The Mecca of Mohammed and his immediate successors seems to be as much a myth as the Jerusalem of the biblical kings David and Solomon.

        • Posted August 12, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

          All the religions and cults where we know how they were founded seem to have a charismatic individual who was involved.

          If Islam was founded by Mohammed, that would be another example that supports the hypothesis “every cult has a founder”. Unfortunately, if you look at the historical evidence, Mohammed is about as elusive as Jesus.

          I don’t get why it is so important to some people that historical Jesus did not exist. It really doesn’t matter whether he is fictional or exactly as described in the gospels (minus the miraculous and supernatural stuff, of course), Christianity is not true and it won’t suddenly become true if we discover for certain Jesus really did exist.

  2. Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    By the way, if anybody wants to know what |I look like, my avatar is a photo of me.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:40 pm | Permalink

      I always assumed that. 😎

  3. Mark R.
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

    I think this will be a fun new feature.

    Man, that lute looks like a tough instrument to play (and tune!). I had a hard enough time with the guitar and bass.

  4. jhs
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Daniel and Peter. 🙂

  5. Heather Hastie
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this Daniel and Peter (and Jerry). This is really interesting. And what a cool instrument!

  6. Michael Fisher
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    Hello Daniel & Peter. Great pic.

    That lute playing malarkey looks tough, I think I count 17 pegs & thus there’s 17 strings on that particular lute? I read that most of those strings will be paired into “courses”, but I don’t really get it.

    Is it possible to vary the sound & duration of a string [or course?] in play to add variety to the result? Is it finger picking style only or are chords played too?

  7. rickflick
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 11:45 pm | Permalink

    Checking some of the music links, I am delighted.

  8. Raymond Cox
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    The early church in Jerusalem had to come from somewhere. I think it is more credible that it started as a group of followers of a charismatic preacher who they came to believe was more than human. Obviously the Roman occupation and collaboration by the Jewish establishment would be intolerable to pious Jews who believed that a divine being had promised the land to the Jewish people, providing fertile ground for teachers who argued for reform. It seems improbable that a group of relatively unsophisticated people would invent a new religion out of nothing.

    Since Paul apparently never met Jesus he obviously had an interest in promoting the idea of a celestial being, since otherwise his claims to authority in the church would be weak compared to those who had actually known Jesus.

  9. darrelle
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Nice to meet you Daniel and Peter. Are there any samples of your musical collaborations available on-line? I’d love to hear some of your music. That lute look daunting. The fret board looks too wide to manage, but obviously it isn’t.

  10. Posted August 12, 2019 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Greetings, fellow WEIT readers.

    You have raised several good questions about the historicity of Jesus, and lutes, which deserve thoughtful replies. I just got back from the recording session and now I have to tear off to the next one — so if you bookmark this page and check back at the end of the week, I’ll have come up with something.

  11. Evan Plommer
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    My chum.

  12. Monika
    Posted August 12, 2019 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Oooooh beautiful music! And those lutes and guitars played by a master lutier, delightful!

    I already love this new website feature.

  13. Posted August 12, 2019 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Glad you guys are interested in the instrument. It’s a 10 course Renaissance lute. Top course single, then a few pairs of strings in unison, then the rest of the pairs in octaves. The bottom 3 pairs are almost always played open (like a harp). Can be seen and heard on my youtube channel http://www.youtube.com/kidneykutter . Our 3 prior CD collaborations can be sampled here: https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/DanielShoskes

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Doc. I’ve subbed to your YouTube in expectation of new gems of old & I’m working through the lute videos for now & I’ll look at other instruments & your accompaniments after that.

      I’ve just enjoyed Quadro Galliard for Renaissance Lute from the Ballet Lute Book & it’s answered my question about the potential for varying the way a string [or course] can be played. I am wondering now – do you get the opportunity to host performances with dancers in appropriate period costume? That would be a sight to see. I’ve quickly scrolled through your twelve years of uploads & I don’t see any thumbnails with dancers.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 8:06 pm | Permalink

      Just bought Weiss Undercover digital download based on liking the first two tunes on it that I listened too.

      P.S. cdbaby thinks Birmingham, UK is a state 🙂

  14. Posted August 16, 2019 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Greetings, fellow WEIT faithful! Several commenters had some questions about lutes and the historical Jesus.

    As to the former topic, Daniel Shoskes has already weighed in. I’d like to add that the lute has a long and fascinating history, dating back to remote antiquity in the Middle East. The instrument in the above photo is a reproduction of the lute of Shakespeare’s time — by then it had been heard in Europe for over a thousand years. The lute has a lot of strings but it’s really not much more complicated to play than classical guitar (it’s quite a beast to keep in tune, though!). But like the guitar, you can devote a lifetime to learning to play it well!

    Now on to my pet topic, the historicity of Jesus. Jeremy Pereira wrote, “Well somebody founded Christianity. The only real dispute is whether the Jesus in Christian writings is based on that person.” Actually, I would say that the evidence doesn’t point to a single founder of Christianity. Christianity arose among diverse cultures who worshiped dying-and-rising savior deities of all descriptions, and there have always been many Christianities, from before 1 AD (yes, before!) down to the present. Note that a great deal of early Christian writings, both in and outside of the canonical New Testament, are criticisms of rival Christianities, and even Paul, the very first Christian writer, refers to teachings about “a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached” in 2 Corinthians 11:4. What we think of as “catholic” (the word means “universal”) Christianity didn’t even appear for centuries, and there have always been wildly diverse views of who or what Jesus was.

    Jeremy also wrote “All the religions and cults where we know how they were founded seem to have a charismatic individual who was involved.” Exactly — we don’t know how Christianity was established! The earliest written evidence (Paul’s letters) dates from the 50s AD, and Paul conspicuously says nothing about a living, breathing, walking, talking Jesus! Paul’s Jesus seems to have been some kind of celestial being that no one could ever have met personally, and whose message could only be delivered through visions and inspired interpretation of Scripture (and no one knew anything about Jesus until after his death and resurrection!).

    Raymond Cox wrote, “Since Paul apparently never met Jesus he obviously had an interest in promoting the idea of a celestial being, since otherwise his claims to authority in the church would be weak compared to those who had actually known Jesus.” But Paul never even mentioned the notion of anyone meeting Jesus face to face! Even when he traveled to Jerusalem and conferred with the Christian leaders there, he considered them fellow apostles (i.e., missionaries), not disciples (people who were personally taught by Jesus). It is only in the Gospels, written decades later, that Jesus appears as a human being and the Jerusalem Christians are referred to as disciples.

    A year and a half ago Jerry posted a link to a talk I gave on the historical Jesus, and since then I have revised and expanded it. So if the topic interests you, you might check it out.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 16, 2019 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

      Thanks Peter (a rock). I will check out your link.

    • rickflick
      Posted August 16, 2019 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

      It’s interesting that the two long genealogies in the bible designed to connect Jesus with the early Hebrews (Joseph, etc.) can’t logically be true. “…the two gospel accounts also say that Jesus was the bastard son of God, and his
      mother was a virgin, which can only mean that Jesus wasn’t related to Joseph,…”
      I’m going to bring this up with my bible thumping in-laws. 😎

      • Posted August 17, 2019 at 9:51 am | Permalink

        Hi rickflick. Before you talk to your in-laws you might enjoy this article which goes into detail about the contradictory birth narratives, and how they may have been intended as symbolic and not historical. Like I say, to try to read the Bible literally and force oneself to believe the superficial meaning of the words is to spectacularly miss the point of the authors. In fact it could be that the very absurdity of the stories is a signal to the reader not to take them literally.

        • rickflick
          Posted August 17, 2019 at 10:44 am | Permalink

          I agree. Anyone who is a serious, intelligent, Christian probably has incorporated the myths at the level of symbols. But, it doesn’t stop a vast number from being literalists. How odd.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted August 17, 2019 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Thank you Peter for your interesting comment. I had not appreciated before the wide variety of lute constructions down the years.

      I’m reading your PDF at the moment – very entertaining to me as a cured Catholic. I didn’t know that Paul is earlier than the Gospels – that for me underlines all the lies I was told as a lad, I’m up to “pew potato”, in another timeline that could be a more gullible version of me. Thank you very much!

      That bit about the Odyssey is especially interesting as I’ve not heard that before – going to read about that later.

      • Posted August 17, 2019 at 9:53 am | Permalink

        Thanks, Michael! Dennis MacDonald’s book about the parallels between the gospels and Homer is Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. Two essays that discuss this book may be found here (scroll down to the paragraph beginning with “The parallelism”), and here (scroll down to the heading “A Markan Odyssey”).

        • Michael Fisher
          Posted August 17, 2019 at 9:59 am | Permalink

          Thank you. Reading.


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