- Nov 2016
A statistical approach cannot possibly provide any certainty in this case but at best a rather high probability, say 98,7 %, of the correctness of Carrier´s hypothesis. So there remains a rest of probability that the hypothesis is wrong. There cannot possibly be proven a, as you put it, "historical certainty".Can a Bayes equation demonstrate that these parallels establish something approaching a "historical certainty" that Mark depended upon Josephus?
But the main problem with such an approach is that a Bayes calculation needs a certain amount of definite figures with which it calculates. However, 22 events in text A and similar 22 events in text B is not enough for calculating the probability that they are causally related. You have exactly to know, for example, if and how many other similar cases of persons, who were called Jesus and who lamented over the temple and were interrogated by authorities and were scourged and so on, were given in the decades before the Mark gospel was written, and which could have served a a model for the Markan Jesus, instead of Jesus ben Ananus. If you say it is very improbable that more such cases were given, you have to calculate this improbability before you calculate Carrier´s hypothesis. But how to calculate this? You have exactly to know, for example, how many Jeshuas lived in Jerusalem in the decades before the Mark gospel was written. This is impossible. So you cannot rule out the possibility that there actually were more such cases like the Jesus ben Ananus case, even including the name forename.
Therefore a statistical approach turns out to be a phantom calculation since there are too many unknown factors to take into account, so that the whole enterprise of calculating the probability of the hypothesis proves to be a grotesque sleight of hand.
Look at some examples of Bayesian calculations on the web and you will find that they are all working with exact figures within an exactly defined frame of conditions, what is impossible in the case of the Carrier hypothesis.
This is similar to what I proposed (contextualization). As to the chronology, Carrier of course assumes that Mark is later than Josephus. It´s at any rate extremely improbable that Josephus copied from Mark.In a situation like that, the first thing to determine is who could have copied who, that is to say the chronology of the two "portraits".
The second step would be to try and understand if the copycat acted to interpolate [to feel in the blanks of an incomplete tale of a personage] or simply transposed a "historical" figure on an other one [historical or not].
Clearly in the second case the real identity of the later "Jesus" would be not above suspicion.