Bart D. Ehrman is My Hero!

After reading a few of his books, with more on the backburner, I just want to declare that Dr. Ehrman is my intellectual hero!

No one else has written so prolifically in arguing against Christianity. He publishes scholarly works with Oxford University Press, and popular ones through HarperCollins (bypassing the normal atheist publishers). He understands that which he argues against and does so respectably. Click on his Curriculum Vitae link at his homepage and look at the range of his publications and books in preparation. Maybe you'll agree with me that his assault on Christianity is probably the most sustained attack by any one skeptic in history. It's surely the most significant attack in today's world. While there are others I admire, when it comes to debunking Christianity, Ehrman stands above us all.

66 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Robert G. Ingersoll was important for his generation as an orator, and there are many volumes of his works, but that's the only other person who can compare with Ehrman. And yet, unlike him, Ehrman is a scholar and understands a whole lot more than Ingersoll. We need every skeptic throughout history, on every level, in every discipline, but when it comes to specifically debunking Christianity, Ehrman is a one man demolition machine.

Two other skeptical Biblical scholars I also admire are Hector Avalos and Robert M. Price

Evan said...

My favorite Ehrman line is one I saw on a video a while back. He says at the start of his classes he asks how many of his students believe the Bible is the word of God and about 80% of his students raise their hands. He then asks how many have read the whole Bible -- very few raise their hands.

One thing doesn't fit the other.

To be honest, I agree with Penn and Teller, studying the Bible is the single best route to atheism.

John Murphy said...

It is certainly true that Mr. Ehrman is inimical to historical Christianity, and through his books is trying to destroy confidence in the Scriptures (good luck at that Bart). What I find...curious about guys like him and this web page is their eagerness to draw others along with them. To what end, I wonder. Why are you so worked up about what you obviously believe is a myth? Why waste so much energy? Especially when your own alternative is so bleak. We live, we die, we rot. Wow, now there's a worldview that should catch on quickly.

It reminds me of the penguins in the movie Madagascar. They spend the whole movie in an intense, excited attempt to stow away on a ship for Antarctica. They succeed! The last view of them they are all standing in a bleak ice scape in Antarctica in a snowstorm and one of them says, "well this sucks." Yep, I think that's a pretty good illustration of the end of atheism.

SpongJohn SquarePantheist said...

I can hardly wait, next Jan 21, to see Mr. Bart "Typos exist therefore God can't" Ehrman
get his head handed to him
.

thompjs said...

Just do search on youtube for Bart Ehrman. Nice video of him discussing one of his books.

The line evan refers to is in that series.

Bruce said...

I'll second your motion on this one John. I've got his "Misquoting Jesus" on my bookshelf and his new one ("God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question") is waiting for me to pick up at my local library. I've enjoyed everything I've read by him. Highly recommended.

james said...

In other words you like the scholars who are known for being the most extreme scpetics (even by atheist standards!)

Interestingly, the scholars you mention are all like yourself, that is they came from fundamentalist Christian backgrounds and went from one extreme to another. Scholars who started off as atheists tend to not be as critical.

Finally, Bart Erhman debated William Lane Craig (click here) if anyone is interested.

Vinny said...

I have run across several Christian bloggers recently who insist that Ehrman is "just in it for the money." He definitely has them flailing.

Jamie Steele said...

I agree with Penn and Teller

That says it all!!!!!!!!!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

John~ You said he stand above you all, well he's falling quicker and harder than you aLL too. Richard Baucham, Daniel B. Wallace,Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd and KILLIN' him and refuting his assertions of form criticism quite EFFECTIVELY.

DANIEL B.WALLACE- "Unfortunately, Erhman too often turns mere possibility into probability, and probability into certainty, where other equally viable reasons for {textual} corruption exist. 'The Case For The Real Jesus' Lee Strobel 2007 (p.72).

"Somewhere between 70 to 80 percent of all textual variants are spelling differences that can't even be translated into English and have zero impact on meaning" Daniel B. Wallace'The Case For The Real Jesus' Lee Strobel 2007 (p.86)

"Part of the reason we have som nay variant is because we have so many manuscripts"- (5,700 or more}"it help us immensely in getting back to the original" Daniel B. Wallace'The Case For The Real Jesus' Lee Strobel 2007 (p.87)

"Ehrman is making the best case he can in 'Misquoting Jesus'", Wallace said. "The remarkable thing is you go through his whole book and you say, Where did he actually prove anything? Ehrman didn't prove any doctrine is jeapordized. Let me repeat the basic thesis that has been argued since 1707: No cardinal or essential doctrine is altered by any textual variant that has plausibility of going back to the original. The evidence for that has not changed to this day." Daniel B. Wallace'The Case For The Real Jesus' Lee Strobel 2007 (p.88-89)

"so the variations [between manuscripts], when they occur, tend to be minor rather than substantive?" (Lee's question)..."Yes, yes, that's correct, "Metzger replied, adding: "The more significant variations do not overthrow any doctrine of the church." Bruce M. Metzger (Ehrman's TEACHER)'The Case For The Real Jesus' Lee Strobel 2007 (p.99)

Once again, the ZERO foundation of your hero is REMARKABLE and crumbles under the weight of TRUTH only found in the Real Jesus.

Thanks.

exapologist said...

I find it hilarious that one commenter said that Bart is "extreme" in his views. He's about as conservative as you can get without being a believer. He thinks the synoptics were written from the late 60s-early 70s (Mark) to the 70s or so (Matthew and Luke). He also thinks the gospels provide plenty of reliable information about Jesus. Indeed, his views are less "extreme" than orthodox scholars like John P. Meier.

Lee Randolph said...

If you don't have time or place to read a book but do have an mp3 player, you can purchase for download courses taught by Ehrman at The Teaching Company.
Here is their list. Some of them are on sale right now as indicated in the list. You can generate your own list from their website by searching for Ehrman.

1. After the New Testament: The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers

2. Historical Jesus

3. Old Testament & New Testament (Set) (On Sale)

4. History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon (On Sale)

5. From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity (On Sale)

6. New Testament (On Sale)

7. Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication

I also highly recommend their courses on Great World Religions.

Lee Randolph said...

and in response to harvey et al,
Ehrman isn't the only one out there, he is just the most successful in getting his work out there to the public.

You can do the work yourself by looking at his sources or taking some university level history courses specific to that time period. Read up on Alexander the great, the byzantine empire, and the heads of the roman republic and resultant empire.
* 3 From the Republic to the Principate: Augustus (27 BC – AD 14)
o 3.1 Sources
* 4 Julio-Claudian Dynasty (14–68)
o 4.1 Tiberius (14–37)
o 4.2 Caligula (37–41)
o 4.3 Claudius (41–54)
o 4.4 Nero (54–68)
* 5 Rebellions
* 6 Year of the Four Emperors (68–69)
* 7 Flavian dynasty (69–96)
o 7.1 Vespasian (69–79)
o 7.2 Titus (79–81)
o 7.3 Domitian (81–96)
Read what the chrisitans were saying about each other, the infighting about doctrine, whether they should adhere to jewish law or not. You can read in the new testament how paul was angry about others teaching circumcision. Read the passage about false prophets, Read what the pagans were saying about the christians. read about the scism between the orthodox's, was jesus fully human or not?

christians were not killed because they were christians, they were killed because they were breaking the law, going against the grain of the established culture and a minority of them ached to be martyrs. Nero blamed the burning of rome on them because it was plausible given their reputation not because they were christians.

learn about the history of eastern asia, to see how they traded metals, spices and ideas with the western asians.

Learn about cro magnon shamans.

try to figure out where adam and eve fit into this big old world. Bet you can't.

I really shouldn't be blogging right now said...

Other commenters miss the big points about Ehrman here. It seems they haven't read him, but mediate their interaction with his work through the "buffers" of apologetics books who "defuse" potentially challenging material.

If you read The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, you see an established tendency of scribes to change things for theological reasons. You find scribes altering passages that have an adoptionist view of Jesus' christology, for example. You see that scribes have added the one verse (which is in John) that explicitly says that there are three persons who are one. So you're playing fast and loose with what alterations "affect Christian doctrine" here.

Also, no one is touching his primary work on the historical Jesus (Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millenium), which is the heart of his critique of Chistianity. There, he gives a knock-down, drag-out argument that Jesus was fundamentally an apocalyptic prophet heralding the imminent eschaton. Of course, his argument for this shouldn't be news to anyone, as this is the view that virtually all mainstream NT scholars hold, since it's so obvious. But if you read the apologists, and never read the actual scholars, you'd get the impression that there were three main camps:

i) the Jesus Seminar people who peddle a wise sage/social reformer Jesus

ii) the N.T. Wright species of Third Questers (plus some vague statements about how people like Sanders aren't quite believers, but think that we can know a lot about Jesus, and that his words and deeds make a lot of sense in the context of second=temple Judaism).

iii) the more skeptical Norman Perrin types.

iv) the Jesus Mythicists who aren't taken seriously

But this is misleading. For there's the people only vaguely referred to in (ii) who make up the *vast majority*, and who are the middle of the roaders:

v) we know pretty much exactly who Jesus was. He was a failed apocalyptic prophet of the eschaton, LIke John the Baptist. Now mystery here.

(v) is the mainstream view precisely because the evidence for it is overwhelming and obvious. But you'd never know it, reading (say) Moreland's Jesus Under Fire, Boyd's Cynic Sage or Son of God?, Blomberg's Historical Reliability of the Gospels, or anything by WLC. You've all been had.

Lee Randolph said...

oh yea, I forgot to mention constantinople.

Steven Carr said...

WALLACE
'"Part of the reason we have som nay variant is because we have so many manuscripts"- (5,700 or more}"it help us immensely in getting back to the original" Daniel B. Wallace'The Case For The Real Jesus' Lee Strobel 2007 (p.87)

CARR
Should I link to the article by Wallace where he accuses Carrier of totally distorting a passage by writing 'spirit' instead of 'his spirit'?

Wallace is blase about variations in the text, yet he thought that the difference in meaning between a translation that said 'spirit' and one that said 'his spirit' was so big that he was extreme in his denunciation of Carrier.

Actions speak louder than words.

Wallace might write that variations are unimportant, yet see what accusations he throws around when somebody misses a word out....

And, of course, the variations in some passages are much bigger than a change between 'spirit' and 'his spirit'.

Steven Carr said...

WALLACE
Ehrman didn't prove any doctrine is jeapordized.

CARR
Goalpost move.

Imagine Wallace seeing evidence that Muslims had changed the Koran to make Muhammad look better, and then saying 'These changes to make Muhammad look better don't jepoardize the doctrine that Muhammad was sinless'

The point is that if people tamper with texts to make them support Christian doctrines, to say that the changes support Christian doctrines is irrelevant.

John W. Loftus said...

SpongeBob, I know about his debate with Craig and I already commented on it.

Harry McCall said...

In 1997 I bought Bruce Metzger’s autobiography: “Reminiscences of an Octogenarian” hoping to find about his personal faith in Jesus or the authority of the Bible; I found neither.

In Britain, the leading New Testament textual scholar is John Keith Elliott (who re-edited M.R. James’ “The Apocryphal New Testament”, Oxford University Press) and received his PhD at Oxford under the late New Testament scholar George D. Kilpatrick who had begun the “International New Testament Greek Project” as a more thorough approach to the textual background than the popular “United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament” edited by Bruce Metzger and others.

In 1982, John K. Elliott published his critic of the truth of Christianity in: “Questioning Christian Origins”. His introduction, in part reads:

“In all this it is clear that the New Testament is being looked upon with some suspicion as an historical source. But this is a proper approach. The New Testament books are religious documents whose primary interest is not in historical facts for their own sake. Historical facts are there but are not always uppermost. Similarly the New Testament is biased: the motive of its writers was not to repeat events and sayings as a journal of record would, but to evoke faith in Jesus Christ as risen Lord and savior as expressly stated by John 20: 30-31 and Luke 1: 1-4.”

While the believing community may demand (and require) proof that the miraculous events recorded in the Bible are some how validated as historical facts, they will always remain an enigma of a religious past vindicated only in faith and creedal confessions.

Evan said...

No cardinal or essential doctrine is altered by any textual variant that has plausibility of going back to the original. The evidence for that has not changed to this day.

What about the resurrection? Is that a cardinal doctrine?

You see, if you consider Mark to be the primary Gospel and the other Gospels to be derivative of him the fact that his Gospel ends with no resurrection is pretty important.

Yet you can pick up any Bible from any Christian in church next time you go, and you will find a story about a resurrected Jesus at the end of Mark.

That, at least to me, seems pretty important. If Mark were published without the appended Coda, it would probably at a minimum confuse quite a few believers -- thus it is never done, even though there is zero doubt that the Coda is a later scribal addition.

Vinny said...

Let me repeat the basic thesis that has been argued since 1707: No cardinal or essential doctrine is altered by any textual variant that has plausibility of going back to the original.

How about the inspiration of the New Testament? In essence, the Second Epistle of Peter is just one big textual variant. Many (if not most) scholars reject Petrine authorship and don't believe that it was written until some time in the second century. Origen and St. Jerome doubted its authenticity and it was one of the last books to be accepted into the canon.

Without 2 Peter 3:14, you lose the primary proof text for treating Paul's letters as scripture. Without that, how do you argue that any of the books of the New Testament are inspired?


What about 2 Peter?

GordonBlood said...

I must say that I have a respect for Ehrman as a scholar. In one of my few religious studies classes I read a book of early Christian sources that he compiled and the introductions to the texts were well done. Now im not going to attack Dr. Ehrman for why he left Christianity, but I would note one thing. John I dont see how you can respect both Robert Price and Bart Ehrman as scholars. One is extremely fringe, indeed his scholarship is extremely questionable and obviously ad hoc. Ehrman on the other hand is most certainly not, and would probly have more than alittle to say about the sketchy workings of your freind Price.

John W. Loftus said...

Gordonblood, you repeatedly show how simplistic you are. As I said, I don't miss you here at all. I never asserted such an absurd proposition that in order to respect someone's scholarship I must accept everything he writes. I do think Price's work is very helpful enough to mention third, precisely because I disagree with him more than I do with Ehrman or Avalos.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Evan~ you said this:

"You see, if you consider Mark to be the primary Gospel and the other Gospels to be derivative of him the fact that his Gospel ends with no resurrection is pretty important."

I don't consider Mark to be the primary although there is good evidence on both sides of the issue but the amazing things is whether it was first or not it says this:

Mark 16:4-8 ~ " And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you. And they went out quickly, and fled from the sepulchre; for they trembled and were amazed: neither said they any thing to any man; for they were afraid."

READS like Resurrection to me...EASILY and CLEARLY.

Carr~ You said this: " The point is that if people tamper with texts to make them support Christian doctrines, to say that the changes support Christian doctrines is irrelevant"

There has been NO TAMPERING to either change or create doctrine. The book of First John DIDN'T create the Trinity and neither did the woman caught in adultery create the doctrine about the compassion of Jesus. Whether in the original text or scribed in those scriptures neither add or take away bible doctrine.

As stated, most variants were SPELLING not issues of substance. Even the refrence you offer in no way creates or takes away from either the doctrine of man or the doctrine of the Holy Ghost. Those are established throughout scripture and do not rely on ONE text.

Harry- You said Metzger's book said this: "The New Testament books are religious documents whose primary interest is not in historical facts for their own sake."

I'll agree the bible IS NOT ONLY a history book and it's primary focus IS RELIGION, HOWEVER as solid scholarship recognizes, that does not exclude it's historical value. The Bible was given in real time, real events and offer the proofs of historical verification such as 1- Multiple attestation (both by Christian and non-Christian sources), 2- Coherence, 3- Dating, being within 20 years of the actual historical events.

Finally, Vinny- I would use, 2 Tim. 3:16~ “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”

The NT is SCRIPTURE also given under another dispensation but as equally valid.

Thanks...I'll be back!

Vinny said...

The NT is SCRIPTURE also given under another dispensation but as equally valid.

An assertion rather than an argument.

GordonBlood said...

John while I certainly will grant you that my statement was slightly obtuse, I think the matter is alittle more acute than you would have us believe. It is a massive matter of degree. It would be like admiring both the scholarship of, I dont know, Ken Hamm (the Genesis fellow) and Richard Swinburne. The positions are so radically different that to respect the ones scholarship really does make it quite difficult to accept the other.

I really shouldn't be blogging right now said...

"READS like Resurrection to me...EASILY and CLEARLY."


Oh yeah. That's real good evidence. "Hey Peter, you know what? I saw these, like, angel guys, and they, like, told me, right, that Jesus rose from the dead. What? Why didn't he appear to you guys, his inner circle and all? Oh, well, get this. The angel guys told us to tell you about it. They wanted us to tell you to meet Jesus in Galilee. So you would have seen him if you were in Galilee to meet him. But you know what? We were, like, totally freaked out, you know? I mean, a couple of freaking ANGELS appeared to us, y'all! Yeah, I know, crazy, right? Anyway, we were so scared shitless that we just bolted out of there and didn't tell a soul. So, sorry about not getting the message to you. But believe me, you would've seen Jesus if we had gotten the message to you to meet him there. After all, angels told us, and they don't lie, right?"

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

TO: I really shouldn't be blogging right now ~

The title of your name is the ONE thing you got right.You obviously come from the OTHER side of the tracks...

So tell me what the scripture says...and what it means...I'd like to hear it in your words.

Secondly, maybe take a course in understanding and defining historical evidences of any sort as I believe that will be most helpful in having any fruitful dialogue about any writing or claims of antiquity.

Based on your last answer that'll be the BEST possible place for you to start.

Thanks.

Evan said...

DSHB the original Gospel of Mark ending at verse 8 does not report any sightings of Jesus after the resurrection.

While it does report hearsay evidence from an unnamed and unknown dude wearing white, that is qualitatively different evidence than a report of a witness sticking his fingers into someone's bloody flesh wounds, wouldn't you say?

John W. Loftus said...

Gordonblood, we disagree, but that doesn't surprise either of us. From what I can tell from your analogy, you can't even specify what scholarship is.

Spontaneous Order said...

As Mark ends at verse 8, Mark would be guilty of burying the headline. It is the post resurrection sightings that establish whether the resurrection was physical or not. Without these, Paul asserting 'witnesses are still living, go and ask yourself' as there is no Easter Day or subsequent physical evidence.

In the same vein, if John is indeed the last written gospel, the witness of Thomas is highly suspect and Pagel's theory rings true. First, this event reads too much like an event that a storyteller would create, a little too perfect. Second, this is in my opinion the most tangible post resurrection experience, but only recorded in one (presumably last written) gospel. Finally, the historical mismatch to other gospels of the women remaining silent and there being no other tomb visitors is very problematic and not synthesizable. This was the most important day of these people's lives - yet details are confused, not recorded, and in some cases outright contradicted.

Then we have the curious verses that close Matthew 27. We are to believe that the priests and Pharisees remembered Jesus said he would come back to life in 3 days, but his disciples huddled, hiding in dark rooms rather than on tomb watch. This unlikely event suggest to me that the gospel writers are willing to play fast and loose with the events of the resurrection.

Finally, we have the case of the dog that didn't bark (Sherlock Holmes reference). Many have pointed out the near total abscense of any contemporary non-Christian writings of the events that surrounding the crucifixion though some if true would almost certainly have been noted somewhere. In these I would include the rising of dead saints, the tearing of the temple curtain, the earthquake, and the daytime darkness.

Jamie Steele said...

In my opinion Bart has done a great service to Christianity.

Text critic genius Dan Wallace said that only about "1% of text variants" make any difference at all.

To me that means that only 1% can be debated. Which means out of 5,000 NT manuscripts 1% can be debated.

I am reminded of when Bart was on the Daily Show and presented his case to Jon Stewart. After Bart spoke Jon said something like "after hearing you and reading your book the Bible really comes alive...

Thanks Bart for all your hard work,
keep proving the Bible as God's Word.

“For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,…”
1 Corinthians 15:3

Evan said...

So Jamie, by your admission there are at least 50 points in the New Testament alone at which there is legitimate concern that the Bible as we understand it is wrong.

FIFTY points. That sounds like a book made by human beings. Sure doesn't sound like God would allow fifty mistakes into his perfect book.

Jamie Steele said...

Evan,
I believe what Bart proved is that 99% of the Word of God as we know it is without question.

I'll take those odds verses lighting striking a mud puddle and up came man any day.

Hope you guys have a good night and a great week.

zilch said...

jamie- need I point out to you, that even if the Bible is, by some measure, 99% free of textual errors, that does not prove that it was divinely inspired? I'm willing to bet that the Harry Potter books are far more than 99% free of textual errors, but that doesn't prove that Harry defeated Voldemort (oops, sorry for the plot spoiler!), does it? All it shows, at best, is that scribal copying was carried out meticulously- which is to be expected for something thought to be the Word of God.

Btw- I've posted at your website about Piltdown Man, if you're interested.

cheers from sunny Vienna, zilch

Jamie Steele said...

Zilch,
Harry Potter wasn't written by over 40 authors in 3 diff. continents and over a 1500yr period.

Think about how amazing it is that these books point to one major theme.
Man needs a Savior and that Christ died for our sins and has been resurrected.

Tyro said...

Jamie,

Hang on a mo... 40 authors, 1500 years... Are you saying that you think the entire bible has a single theme - Jesus? Some Jews may be surprised to learn that.

And are you really trying to argue that the mere presence of a single theme is enough to justify claims of divine inspiration?

Just a second ago you were saying that the absence of textual errors established divinity, now it's many authors with a unified theme. I'm a little confused as to exactly what qualities you're looking for, and I'm a little confused as to which books of the bible you're talking about.

Vinny said...

To the extent that the books of the Bible do have a common theme, isn't that a result of the fact that a common theme was one of the selection criteria? After all, I could select a bunch of books written by different white supremacists, but the fact that they all agreed would not indicate supernatural intervention.

Jamie Steele said...

Ty and vin,
Can you give me an example of any other book in history that can claim 40 authors from different backgrounds on 3 diff. cont. and spaced by about 1500yrs writing about a central theme.

i don't think so. If you can please let me know because i want to buy one.

"Some Jews may be surprised to learn that."
i would encourage them to read Isaiah 53 very closely.
Also Jesus was a Jew and he encouraged them to follow Him as the Messiah.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Evan~ Mark 8 Leaves the resurrection event in tact. The empty tomb indicates a missing body in this case as the angel said a LIVING body. ie: resurrection.

Now, none of you agnostics or atheists scare anybody. Some of Jesus own followers were the same (Thomas) and his own brother (James) did NOT believe him until they saw him for themselves in his resurrected state. So, if you need your own personal experience before you'll believe, that's ok. All I know is I don't need that. The evidence speaks for itself.

Let me hit a few of your falacious points before I leave:

Spontaneous~ you said: "First, this event reads too much like an event that a storyteller would create, a little too perfect"

In this you refrence Mark, which was one of the LEAST perfectly written narratives and one that was telling a story, not chronology or biography. Since Mark wasn't writing a biography and received his info by personal experience with APOSTLE Peter, he was in very good shape to relay the message accurately as he did. I won't go back over the arguments we had with Bart over the issues that's not the point here, only that Mark was intended to hit the facts and did not labor to go over the reasons why things were done the way they were.

You also said this: "We are to believe that the priests and Pharisees remembered Jesus said he would come back to life in 3 days, but his disciples huddled, hiding in dark rooms rather than on tomb watch. This unlikely event suggest to me that the gospel writers are willing to play fast and loose with the events of the resurrection."

Now to "play fast and loose" as you suggest is to play with DEATH. The disciples KNEW that if this claim were true they'd be risking their life and if it were false they'd die for a lie. How can one credulously believe that a group of people would concoct a lie that they knew was going to kill them and then do "good things" in life in response to it. The disciples and apostles were known by their adherence to moral and societal laws. It's highly implausible that they would lie (commit moral crimes)in order to do good. Here you, like every other God hater and some doubters, show your wishful thinking that a lie was conspired. That supposition is TOTALLY inconsistent with the facts.

There are a number of reasons why a conspiracy theory would be and is highly rejected by ANY CREDIBLE scholarship on the subject. 1- the women were the first witnesses. This would have been a bad move for anyone trying to create a fictitious story wanting someone to believe it. The story would have been doomed imploring the use of women as primary witnesses in that time period. That's why Thomas DID NOT believe until he saw Jesus himself.
2- The Romans and Jews attested to the fact that the body was gone. Tell me how a group of men afraid to even show themselves is gonna work up enough nerve to attack and subdue Roman soldiers that were GUARDING the tomb?

Ok...This is the gospel according to the atheist...Jesus, who really didn't exist, was so honored by the disciples, who were weaklings, that they conspired to themselves, to create a lie, solidified the lie by doing good things, then overcame their reluctance to stand up for a myth, that was being guarded by real soldiers...After a long struggle, they beat down the Roman soldiers, removed the myth from the tomb, went about doing good wherever they could and continued to preach the myth until their death????

WHAT THE HECK IS THAT?

I'll save the more indepth arguments for Bart W. because I know he's getting ready to put out some rediculous post about the resurrection so I'll save the meat for that one.

There seems to be a misunderstanding about what inspiration means here. Inspiration is what God breathed out and what he gave. The translations are not inspired neither are the scribes who translated the texts, however what was said is inspired and therefore perfect.

Now, there are problems going from Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic to English. We do not have some words or tenses to adequately translate some words, that's why with study of other writings, we are able to constantly make our interpretive better. So the bible over the years has changed some of the words that were used for certain other words historically. NONE of those changes were doctrine or what we call "Essential" changes. Then yes, there were some spelling errors and some places where a proper name such as 'Jesus' was inserted in place of 'he' so that the reader could understand who was being talked about.

Each insertion was considered a variant, but there was NO meaning or message change or variation. That's why we say with confidence that the word is the word that was delivered.

Once again I'll save a more detailed argument for others that want to go round and round with this.

Finally, the Biblical message is the same. Redemption by the provision of God himself.

Through all the various authors. The whole narrative is about God's redemption from beginning to end. The NT REVEALS the vehicle of that redemption for man. That's consistent.

To the atheist, agnostic, etc. everything I've said is suspect and falacious, but to them willing to follow the EVIDENCE it's all understandable and will only lead to a greater search for additional evidence, lead where it may.

Now one thing Ehrman has done...he's helping us to revive our bible study cirriculum. The more he produces ten times as many arguments are brought back to show why he's wrong and help the people of God add another dimension to study. So I invite all the textual critics to keep presenting their fallacious arguments. It only helps us to know more, and gain a deeper faith as a result.

Thanks.

Vinny said...

Can you give me an example of any other book in history that can claim 40 authors from different backgrounds on 3 diff. cont. and spaced by about 1500yrs writing about a central theme.

I can do something better.

I can explain it.

To the extent that there is a central theme (and I think its existence is greatly exaggerated), it is because the men who decided which books should be preserved and venerated did so based on whether the book supported beliefs that they already held. No magic required.

Evan said...

To the atheist, agnostic, etc. everything I've said is suspect and falacious, but to them willing to follow the EVIDENCE it's all understandable and will only lead to a greater search for additional evidence, lead where it may.

DSHB, doesn't this mean you are admitting that your arguments only bolster up the faithful and are unconvincing?

Tyro said...

Jamie,

Can you give me an example of any other book in history that can claim 40 authors from different backgrounds on 3 diff. cont. and spaced by about 1500yrs writing about a central theme.

First, I think you're trying to pull our legs if you're going to argue that the OT has a theme (other than, perhaps, obey god or be destroyed), or that it matches the NT.

It also doesn't address what Vinny has been saying - this is just editorial discretion. I imagine it would be the work of an afternoon for an historian to gather the works of 40 different authors from different cultures based around pretty much any theme you pick.


But let's say that you establish that the bible is unique in some fashion - I'm sure there is some way to do so. Then what? What is your working theory here? You seem to be arguing that different people writing about a common subject can only be explained by supernatural means - is this really your argument?

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Evan~ (I've really come to like you in a strange but pitiful sort of way) As for your question, No that's not what I mean...I mean that Atheists are sooooo Blind that you don't know you have a nose on your face if you can't see it in the mirror...

The arguments are very convincing IF atheists were as rational as they claim...but what more can we expect from people who try to DISPROVE something they they don't believe exists in the first place???

I don't know what that is but it certainly isn't rational.

Peace My Brutha!

Jamie Steele said...

Evan,
Are you a disciple of A.J. Ayer?
Because you argue like him!

Evan said...

The arguments are very convincing IF atheists were as rational as they claim...but what more can we expect from people who try to DISPROVE something they they don't believe exists in the first place???

Are you saying that you are trying to disprove something you DO believe in?

I haven't seen it. Most people try to disprove things they don't believe. I think that's the normal thing. It's only in science that people try very hard to disprove their beliefs and only accept them if they can't be disproven.

Evan said...

Evan,
Are you a disciple of A.J. Ayer?
Because you argue like him!


Nope. I'm not a disciple of anyone.

David said...

Thought you might be interested in the mp3 from the Ehrman/Wallace debate on New Testament Reliability. Both positions were presented clearly and passionately. Would like to hear thoughts from folks here at DC on it.

http://www.watchman.org/store/index.cfm?fuseaction=product.display&Product_ID=914

Vinny said...

I have been blogging about both the debate itself and Ed Komozsweski and Dan Wallace's comments about the debate at You Call This Culture? Here is the best line of the night from the Q&A session after the debate:

QUESTIONER: You asked the question why study variants if they don’t make a significant difference. Since many people abandon their faith because they don’t believe the truths taught by scripture can be relied on, wouldn’t one of the most important reasons for Christians to study textual criticism be to defend its integrity from people like you?

DR. EHRMAN: Good luck!

Earl Cruser said...

Just found this Blog while looking into Ehrman and find it enlightening and engaging. As a former liberal Protestant clergyman, I came to Ehrman's conclusions some years ago. I wonder why the mythycist view of the origin of Christianity is given short shrift by most posters. Have blog mavens taken a hard look at the arguments of Earl Doherty? Myths have great power and explain the attraction of Christianity that is beyond logic. As long as we accept that the Jesus of the NT walked the earth we are in debate with the District Superintendent about evidence.

Earl Cruser

Marno said...

Ehrman is like the emperor in his "new clothes" in the fabric of Doubt and Unbelief.

Along with many here, Ehrman seems committed to unbelief as a cause unto itself. Doubt and unbelief are the chief commitment and religion that rule the mind and heart no matter what.

If Ehrman personally witnessed a true miracle he would have to bow to Doubt and say, "Miracles are so improbable as to be impossible. Therefore what I have just myself witnessed and experienced did not actually happen."

And all the emperor's followers applaud.

Stephen J. Ardent said...

The more Ehrman separates himself from his former beliefs the less scholarly, and more agendized and decieving his books become.

He has become a master of opening the door to the methods of textual criticisms, and then pretending there is nothing but a problem behind each door.

One example is his statement that there are 200,000 to 400,000 variants to be found in the NT, and then implying that this invalidates any substance we might assign to the NT. What he conveniently, and intellectually dishonestly fails to go on to say is that most of these variants are misspellings that make no difference, quirks with greek language that make no difference, and infact less than 1% of these are meaningful in any way. And none of them change either the truth of what is recorded, nor doctrines associated therewith.

Ehrman has exchanged his title of scholar for charlatan.

Earl Cruser said...

I think the theologians who base their Christian faith on the reliability of Scripture have made a grave mistake--its contradictions, historical inaccuracies and mythical elements are hardly worthy of debate; e.g. Bishop Spong. The stronger critiques attack basic Christian doctrine as both contradictory and psychologically and environmentally toxic; e.g. Nietzsche and John Lamb Lash.

Vinny said...

Stephen,

I don’t like to call anyone a liar, but what you are saying is categorically and completely false. Ehrman always clearly states that the overwhelming majority of variants are completely trivial. He said it in Misquoting Jesus and he has said it on every occasion that I have heard him discuss the matter but one. That one exception was when he appeared on The Colbert Report. However, I would cut him some slack on that one since Stephen Colbert was shooting zingers at him so rapidly that I think Ehrman did very well just to maintain his composure.

On the other hand, I have seen and heard many Christian apologists cite the number of New Testament manuscripts as a reason to be confident in the transmission of the texts. However, they rarely acknowledge the fact that the vast majority of those manuscripts date as much as a thousand years after the autographs and that manuscript evidence from the first two centuries is very sparse and from the first century nearly nonexistent. Unlike Ehrman, the Christian apologists almost never offer the qualifying statements. The only exception I recall is Dan Wallace, and while I give him credit, I have not found him to be as clear and consistent with the qualifying statements as Ehrman.

I really wish Christians apologists would demonstrate a small fraction of Ehrman’s intellectual integrity.

Steven Carr said...

So variations don't affect doctrines?

You mean if forgers change things to make them more doctrinally pure, it no longer counts as forgery?

bfniii said...

wallace, et al, really had no problem dealing with the "criticisms" of biblical variants at the greer heard forum. they were also adept at pointing out the ehrman is much less critical of the variations among scholars than he is in the public square which smacks of sensationalism.

bfniii said...

"the vast majority of those manuscripts date as much as a thousand years after the autographs"
there are plenty of manuscripts from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries, when coupled with the patristic writings, that demonstrably show we can be as close to absolute certainty of the original meaning as possible.

bfniii said...

"So variations don't affect doctrines? You mean if forgers change things to make them more doctrinally pure, it no longer counts as forgery?"
you're describing what al-Hajjaj did to the qu'ran, not what happened to the Bible. there were way too many copyists in too many places for any alleged forgers to get away with changing the intent wholesale. what doctrine do you think got changed?

bfniii said...

"The stronger critiques attack basic Christian doctrine as both contradictory and psychologically and environmentally toxic; e.g. Nietzsche and John Lamb Lash."
it sounds to me like you're not familiar with the works of the best christian thinkers who have dealt with these kinds of issues. any disbelief remains a matter of personal preference, not rationality.

KC said...

Ehrman's extreme scepticism springs from an agenda. This 'ex Evangelical' wants to give Christianity a bloody nose. This is not a premise for sound scholarship and this is seen in Ehrman's strange choice of textual variants as the 'valid original.'

Symon said...

I don't think Ehrman is interested in turning anyone against Christianity or attacking it. He is merely a scholar positing theories based on available evidence, which you are free to agree with or argue against.

This idea of a "war" between Christians and Atheists is somewhat destructive and self defeating - I do not believe it helps either group.

Ehrman's work raises interesting questions with people of faith should not be afraid to explore. I do not think that apparent contradictions between gospels necessarily proves that Jesus was not divine. It does mean that Christians need to carefully examine their own professed holy texts closer than many of them do in order to determine a meaning deeper than that handed to them by pandering preachers.

I am a theist myself, though not a Christian and enjoy Ehrman's work purely from a historical point of view. However, I do not wholeheartedly accept all his findings. As he himself would admit the lot of the Biblical historian is not to conclusively prove but merely to suggest the most likely scenarios.

david said...

On one hand:
In the end does it really matter what motivates a scholar to research and publish on a topic? Usually the ones who are most obsessed and mad-driven make the most progress in their respective fields.

On the other:
I have no doubt that after abandoning deeply held beliefs and past experiences, one might acquire the desire to bloody a nose or two (case in point: this blog).

Ehrman probably is out to change people's minds...but so what if he is?

Earl Cruser said...

To bfniii: Right. Any belief rests on personal preference.

Earl Cruser said...

In my recent post I was, I think, suffering from "radical relativism." Although it is hard to argue that in the final analysis our beliefs are chosen, personal, private, we have a responsibility to others and to ourselves to explore what empirical and "expert" evidence has to teach or reveal to us. We do not face the existential questions alone. We usually have a host of witnesses to hear and evaluate and learn from.

Johnnie said...

One: Why do so many supposedly smart folks try to debunk that which even the Faithful admit cannot be proven. Protesthing too mucheth?

Two: I guess until somebody shows me how something can come from nothing, I'll just leave the God option on the table. The rest is human and therefore quite fallible. Shouting, "Eureka!" and then pointing that out is rather silly.

Johnnie said...

This is from Dan Crittenden - dancritt@charter.net (educated but unsure relative to what in this context)

First a question: Why do so many feel the urge to debunk that which even the Faithful admit is not provable.

Now a comment: Until somebody reveals how something can come from nothing, I'll just keep the God thing on the table. The rest (including the natuire of God)is human and therefore quite fallible.