About

Jericho Brisance first began in 2013 as a long open letter of sorts. It was intended to describe, for the sake of friends and family, my personal investigation into the foundations of Christianity, and indeed, of faith itself. I was in my mid-thirties at the time, and I had spent my whole life up to the Journey as a serious believer. Having since departed the faith, I now consider myself an atheist & humanist, and Jericho has transitioned to a blog for discussing religion- and science-related topics. 

Some have asked about the origins of the name Jericho Brisance. It was derived from the Personal Thesis section of my Journey, which closed with the following:

The brisance of Jericho derives not from the shattering force of Joshua’s trumpets on those ancient city walls. Indeed, Jericho seems unlikely to have had fortifications which could have been knocked down at the time of  the purported conquest. And it seems that there never were any invading hordes to march circles around the city. Instead, the true brisance has struck from the silence of a grand retraction, the vacuum of happenings that never were, and the realization that Judaism was but human from the first brick. The transgressions of those long dead stretch forward their hands, thieving the present.

And the crime echoes for me in a faith revoked.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope to interact with you. Feel free to follow (on the right), or email at jerichobrisance@gmail.com

Matt Barsotti

Comments

  1. I really like the way you’ve laid out your Journey, though I haven’t gotten far into it yet. I have a feeling our stories may be very similar…

    Looking forward to reading more!

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  2. Jericho, I’m here by way of Nate’s blog.

    I am married with two small boys. My husband and I have been atheists for just under a year and a half. We both left Christianity half a year before we turned forty years old. Mr Amazing hails from a Southern Baptist background and I was raised Pentecostal.

    I am looking forward to knowing your story.

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  3. Yeah, Jericho, “Mr. Amazing” is a name I gave hubby early on in our nine years of marriage. When I began blogging just this summer it seemed suitable to identify him as such. We can’t fully disclose our identities for we live in West Tennessee in a town just under ten thousand people. Mr. Amazing repairs equipment at a huge network of hospitals under a religious umbrella. Though our children go to a public school, my oldest is in the gifted program and it can be religious at times.

    Mr. Amazing doesn’t have his own blog, but I think it’s good for him to contribute to mine. He’s at a very different place than I am regarding healing from religion and his childhood. We’re both 40, I began my journey at 18 and he just began his a few years ago.

    It’s nice to meet your acquaintance. I wish you and your family well on your life’s journey. Have a great Labor Day weekend.

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    • Healing is a good word for it. I went through such a process as a young adult, moving from a sort of heretical Christianity to orthodoxy. Didn’t expect it to happen again. But this time, I believe the change has a better chance of being the last… its more of an inoculation. And healing takes time, and that’s OK. The race is long. Thanks for the encouragement. Cheers…

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  4. Hi, I’m visiting too from Nate’s blog – he and I are sort of mates. I’m a christian, but I’ll definitely try to behave inoffensively while visiting. 🙂

    You and I have a couple of points of connection. I trained as a civil engineer, which is not the same as your training, but I guess similar. I’m an Aussie, but I have a daughter living in Texas, and I have visited Texas 3 times in recent years. San Antonio was one of the places we enjoyed the most – the Riverwalk and the 5 missions especially. I too do a lot of reading.

    Nice to “meet” you.

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  5. Hi Jericho,
    Thank you for stopping by one of my blogs, for the like and follow. I see we have a mutual blogger friend, Charity. It’s a pleasure to meet you, and I look forward to reading about your journey. 🙂

    Wishing you and your family a fantastical weekend,
    Victoria

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    • Victoria,

      Yep, absolutely. Its been really interesting to connect with folks since opening the blog a few months back. Glad to be connected.

      Cheers,
      Matt

      Like

  6. I’m another visitor from Nate’s blog. 🙂

    I’m just starting Part 4 of your journey and enjoying it immensely. It would have been so perfect in a book! But then, perhaps the blog offers more exposure.

    My journey is similar and is outlined in my book, “Things I Never Learned in Sunday School: Facts about the Christian faith that will surprise and astound you.” It’s not nearly so “academic” as your story (I wrote from a more ‘personal’ perspective — although I have a substantial list of resources.)

    I plan to use some of your material on my own blog (with appropriate credit, of course) in the near future. You make some statements that, for me, literally jump off the page and, IMO, need additional exposure.

    I’m so grateful to Nate for directing me here and to you for bearing your soul.

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    • Absolutely, and thanks very much. I’ll head over to your blog as well. And yes, Nate is a good guy. Lot of similarities between our stories, and I really enjoyed reading his (though I haven’t gotten through his post series on prophecies yet). Cheers. 🙂

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  7. Greetings Brisancian!

    Many thanks for following my blog. I see we probably have several things in common — not the least of which is Texas. I too am grateful for my family, upbringing, and humanitarian education. However, as you might soon browse upon in my blog, I am no where near as proud of my home state that it blinds me of its many many faults and shortcomings. There is MUCH to be active about, particularly in its ‘religiosity’ and conservative orthodoxy.

    Looking forward to exploring more closely your blog. Thanks again Sir.

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    • Greetings Professor, I found you through Victoria at Neuronotes. I enjoyed your comments there and look forward to reading more on your blog over the weekend. 🙂

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      • Ah yes; Lady Neurotic…whoops, I mean Neuronotes, aka Victoria! LOL 😉

        Yes, tell her I said that; she’ll get a kick from it…. and probably onto my arse! Hah.

        And I will do the same Sir with your blog, as time allows us busy men. Enjoy your Friday and weekend! Great to cyber-meet you. 🙂

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  8. Dear Professor, you are projecting again. 😉

    *waves to Matt*

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  9. Residue left over from the past, I suppose? You are forgiven, kind *cough* Sir.

    *waves to Matt — again* 😀

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  10. Hi Matt, I hope you’ve had a great week thus far. Autumn is in the air. Ahhhhhh. 😀
    I just found this article published today, and thought you might want to have a look.
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/10/10/bible-scholar-christianity-invented-as-part-of-ancient-roman-psy-ops-campaign/

    I’m sure this isn’t a theory you haven’t already thought about — because I know I have. But what really intrigued me was this:

    “Atwill said he understands that his theory is bound to upset Christians, and he’s hoping skeptics will come to challenge him after his lecture as part of a symposium, “Covert Messiah,” along with Kenneth Humphreys, author of “Jesus Never Existed.”

    Oh this is so good. 😀 He’s hoping that his theory will be challenged. Now that’s what I’m talking about. He must have some solid data/evidence. I hope they record this symposium, should he be challenged.

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    • Entertaining concept, but notably fringe of course. I did see this quote:

      ““The biography of Jesus is actually constructed, tip to stern, on prior stories, but especially on the biography of a Roman Caesar,” he says.”

      Scholars like Marcus Borg point out the very clear adoption of Roman Imperial Theology terms for Jesus, including his many titles, the use of the term gospel, the deification, etc., and points out in credible ways that this was adoption of Roman terms as a counter-cultural statement against Roman oppression.

      But Atwill sounds a bit outside of mainstream. Interesting idea, but for myself I tend to think Jesus was a historical person papered over with increasing layers of exaggeration as time goes by. But if I play the game… This would mean that Paul was a secret agent of the empire! And there was a *reason* that he was recalled to Rome under pretenses of arrest! Luxurious retirement! LOL! Jeez, conspiracy theories never die…

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  11. Matt, I looked into Atwill’s theory a little more today. Also wanted to leave a link with Richard Carrier debunking it. http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4664

    Initially I got excited with his thesis regarding a peaceful Messiah strategy, because I was hoping that he was going to take this to another level with regard to the neurological and psychological aspects of bonding, attachment, loyalty and reward. This would, IMO, make parts of his theory quite plausible considering the neurological studies coming out that show what happens to the brain (neurotransmitter wise) when people fall in love and/or produce offspring — even when they fall in love with their god, i.e., Jesus – the ‘bridegroom’. A part of their brain involved in critical social assessment deactivates. So much more to share, but I’ll spare you here, lol. I plan to write a post about this, hopefully soon.

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    • Thanks for sending the follow up link. Yes, Carrier is just the sort to tackle this. I actually like Carrier quite a bit. I can’t get on board with his “Jesus probably never existed” conclusion, but I have respect for his seemingly unparalleled access to ancient mythology/lore. I actually look forward to his upcoming book, having seen several of his debates.

      I think the psychological points you mention are interesting and certainly are relevant for any startup religious movement.

      I have come to this conclusion: Christianity began as what we now would call a cult. A small and splinter faction of Judaism, which really didn’t garner much attention or much press from outsiders until quite some time later. All the dynamics of a cult were present in terms of leader loyalty, idolization, choosing the group over extant family/friends, etc. Christianity is big and mainstream now, but it began as small and provincially as any other cult. If we trace the arc and growth of Mormonism, it is very similar. It got big and mainstream at about the same age and maturity point. I think its really interesting we can see that happening with Mormonism in our generation. At any rate… thoughts.

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  12. Thanks for your feedback. As I mentioned previously, I initially got excited before getting more details because of the psy-ops angle. The whole Jesus story is based on symbolism of maternal love (bosom, birth, milk, security, comfort) – which releases oxytocin; and of committed lovers, (bride, groom, wedding night) which releases oxytocin, vasopressin and dopamine.

    But Atwill didn’t go there. Sadly, I don’t know of any Biblical scholars who do. Do you? Using reward and bonding tactics helps prevent rebellion of the people en masse, all the while keeping them ‘in their place’, obedient and loyal even when they are having to make great sacrifices, such as what most mothers would do for their child/children.

    As I mentioned previously, scientist using fMRI scans show that an area of the brain associated with critical social assessment, deactivates. Neuropharmacological studies demonstrate dopaminergic activation as the leading neurochemical feature associated with religious activity. This is valuable information when understanding the power that religion has over people.

    I do believe that Jesus was a historical figure, too, (Carrier does not) – with the personality type of a guru. But given the fact that the canons were corrupted through the centuries tells me that ‘authorities’ had a fairly good understanding of human behavior and their habits. it is quite plausible to get ‘herds’ of people to cooperate using various methods that manipulate emotion, as is evident in religions such as Christianity. “My sheep here my voice”. Studies from Leed University show that in crowds, approximately 95% of people follow without their awareness.

    Anyway, that’s my take. 😀

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    • I think you’re right. and no, I haven’t seen any biblical scholars that do too much on the psychological side. As guys like Carrier will admit – we can identify possible psychological dynamics, but the evidence is so poor that there is no way to make any strong claims to know what was going on. I tend to agree with that, even though – like you – I think Jesus was a legitimate historical figure.

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      • I think that’s interesting that Carrier would say that considering the massive research that exists regarding cults and the psychological dynamics involved, not to mention the abundant neurological research regarding how common hyper-religiosity is and it’s causes. Also it’s influences on a mass scale. Note the 7th Day Adventist, as I mentioned in one of my posts, regarding the BBC documentary “God on the Brain”.

        But also…Richard claims that there is no evidence of god. This is true, but there is also no evidence that there isn’t a god or gods. It is his assumption that people believe what they do because why? Psychological, neurological, culture? All having to do with the brain and neuroplasticity. It’s not rocket science. It seems like common sense to me.

        Personally, people are wasting their time trying to prove that Jesus and God doesn’t exist due to neurological mechanisms that solidify devout belief. Even if we found solid evidence that gods don’t exist, they still wouldn’t be convinced due to neural wiring, etc. Even the Bible has implanted a warning that the ‘devil’ and ‘God’ will test their faith. If we are to make a difference, we need to address these very issues that lead to belief. That’s my take, anyway. I’m incline to favor Ehrman’s stance more so than Carrier’s.

        Thanks for your feedback, Matt. I’ve really been enjoying our discourse.

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        • Well, just to clarify, I think Carrier does a great job arguing that there are several neurological/psychological explanations that could be viable, including the various factors you mention. However, as far as I’ve seen, he does well to refrain from final judgment. The position I’ve seen him take – say in the debate with Licona – is that we don’t have enough data to firmly back one hypothesis or definitively prove it to be true. Why? Because we have poor records of Paul and poor records in the gospels. His main point, however, is that there are more than one viable natural explanation, and any of those is more likely than the “resurrection is the best explanation” line of Licona, Craig, Habermas, etc. I think he makes a good point. He simply pops the balloon that there is no way to account for early follower’s belief except by appeal to the factuality of the bodily resurrection. And he’s correct, of course.

          Licona, Craig, & Habermas seem to have precious little experience with cults. They make the critical and gigantic assumption that no collection of reasonable persons would do what the disciples did unless the resurrection was real. Any reading about or personal exposure with cult practices demonstrates two things: (1) the people who form the early members of new religious movements are not a collection of reasonable individuals, but rather engage in the most bizarre types of group belief and delusional reinforcement, and (2) they are incapable of telling a straight and unembellished story that keeps fact separated from fiction.

          It took me some time to realize that the earliest Jesus followers were essentially just like the cult groups of my own past.

          Its hard for me to say what the strongest argument would be for persuading believers. Its really hard. Something – or someone – has to “crack the egg” for each individual. A fissure has to open that causes questioning. Having now emerged thrice, I see it as a common pattern in each case. People need a messenger that they can hear from, individually. Something has to get past the high walls of reflexive dismissiveness and crack the egg.

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  13. Speaking of Paul, in one of the many lectures I’ve listened to from Bart Erhman, he mentioned that had it not been for Paul’s Letters, Christianity would have most likely remained a small cult. It’s interesting that several of Paul’s Letters that are in the Bible were not written by Paul.

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  14. Ooops. Correction: its — not it’s. My right pinky can get carried away sometimes. 😀

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  15. Matt, I’m sorry I haven’t gotten by sooner to followup on your comment. I really appreciated your feedback, and will respond when I have more time. It’s been exceptionally busy for me lately — and to top it off, I received an email on Thursday from the WP editor that my post on vulnerability is going to be Freshly Pressed. Not sure when it will be pressed, but most likely it will happen within the next couple of days. After a day or two of ‘fame’, lol, things should get back to normal and I can do what I love the most here — reading blogs such as yours. Your posts are right up my alley. Meaty.

    Hope you’re having a great Fall weekend.
    Victoria

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  16. Thanks for visiting my blog. My golden retriever insists that I ask you to tell your poodle that he said “yo!”

    Cheers!

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  17. Great picture of you and the family. Hope you are doing well. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Thanks for challenging my faith. You help me not blindly follow. You make me think about what I believe in, research it, and become even stronger in my relationship with Christ. I have found some flaws in your infographic. Here’s some research for you to look into. Oh and the Gospels were written in Greek and Matthew and John were Jesus’ disciples which means that they were eyewitnesses. Haven’t researched all the topics in the infographic yet but here’s some of what I found, the last one is a personal favorite!
    http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=730
    https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=6&article=300
    http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-guard-at-the-tomb
    http://news.discovery.com/history/religion/jesus-crucifixion-120524.htm

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Megan, thanks for investigating. I’ll look a bit further into your links tomorrow and respond further. Correct regarding Greek, agree. Not so much on eyewitness authorship. Consider looking into the Journey pages for more on that.

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    • Hi Megan,

      I’ve had a chance to look at the four links that you included. Thanks for sending those.

      The first link is very clearly a method number 2 approach. That is, take the different Gospel accounts, weave them together, and claim that the sum of all the Gospels tells the complete story. The problem with this approach is that you wind up with an explanation that is not given in any of the Gospel accounts. A mega gospel. If we had one gospel that explained that there were two meetings, one in each of two places, and then we had a couple of Gospels that only mentioned one place or the other, then combining them or recognizing that there was simply some omission in one of the others might be defensible. But since none of them actually describes two different meeting locations, we have a simple difference in portrayal. And when that happens, we have to approach this kind of discrepancy the same way we would if we found it in any other historical documents. We don’t grant a priori that any set of historical documents are all equally correct especially where there are differences. What the author is asking you to do is to take a different approach with the Gospels giving them a benefit of the doubt of inerrancy that is never used in normal historical work in comparing different sources that recount the same events in different ways.

      The second source regarding color is what I would call a strained harmonization. The two colors were symbolic of two very different things, and it seems evident that the two authors were trying to symbolically represent different meanings to the robe episode. This is further bolstered by other symbolic mentions that each author makes, and the color that each of the Gospel writers chooses is consistent with the overall theme that each of the authors was trying to portray. If you try to make the colors the same when they were different, you actually lose the symbolic meaning that each author appeared to be going for.

      In the third article, William Lane Craig does his standard handwaving routine. At the conclusion of the routine, there still has not been an adequate answer given as to why something as important as the guard and seal of the tomb would be forgotten by three out of four Gospel writers. Baron mind also, that the Gospel of Matthew include some of the most egregious fabrications. The earthquakes appear only in Matthew for example, along with several other things. Matthew consistently comes up with story bylines that are missing from the other Gospels, that really cannot be explained as to why they would be missing.

      Finally, the article regarding the earthquake is an interesting one. If you could establish with a certainty that there was good historical reason to think that there was an earthquake associated with Passover, then that archaeological evidence would provide an interesting sort of corroboration. The problem is that there is approximately a ten year window with that earthquake, and we need not only to know that the earthquake happened within one of those particular years, but on one specific day of the year. If an earthquake of that magnitude really did happen on a high holy day, we could expect significant records in both Roman and Jewish sources — everyone was in town at the time. On the other hand, if it happened at some oddball time, on some random Tuesday, and we might not expect to see any particular record of it. And that’s actually what we find. So having an earthquake somewhere within a 10 year window of time doesn’t corroborate that the key claim of the Biblical account is true. Namely, that an earthquake happened at the exact year/day/hour that Jesus was crucified.

      I will include a link for you, that talks about a little bit more of the discrepancies pertaining to the Easter accounts. Specifically, those pertaining to Pontius Pilate. Hopefully that would help to shed a little more light on just how extended the problems are with the Gospels, and keeping only to the Easter accounts. It gets worse if you look further out into the rest of the texts.

      Best,
      Matt

      Like

    • The four part series on Pontius Pilate: https://jerichobrisance.com/2014/03/20/pontius-our-pilot-part-1/

      Like

  19. Matt, hope you’re doing well

    Hey, I just finished my book. A little number with a whole lot of mischief. To be read with a seriously stiff tongue in the cheek.

    I just posted a part of the Introduction to the Argument on my blog, and all the links are in the cover icon.

    If you get the chance, have a read. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. You have a great mind.

    Talk to you soon
    J

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Matt, great to see you back, but your current post doesn’t have a comments option.

    Like

Trackbacks

  1. […] Jericho Brisance published a very detailed article on his blog about the contradictions and omissions in the four Gospels regarding the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The article, Infographic: Taking Easter Seriously, is a pretty interesting read. Good work, Jericho! […]

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