Bart Ehrman on God’s Problem and Human Solutions: How the Bible Explains Suffering

In September 2008, Bart Ehrman delivered one of the 2008 Foerster Lectures on the Immortality of the Soul at the University of California, Berkeley. The lecture series commenced in 1928, and has included lectures by Oliver Sacks, Thomas S. Kuhn, Aldous Huxley, and Paul Tillich.


openlyatheist said...

If anyone hasn't watched this yet, they should. Ehrman is a quality speaker who offers some potent food for thought. His handling of the q&a afterwards was particularly well done.

BobCMU76 said...

I sat through it several days ago. I was waiting for him to get to the New Testament, but he never did. That's his area of expertice, no?

Three distinct models of the problem of suffering are identified in the Old Testament. Early on, the emphasis was on the early rewards of devotion to the cult of YHWH. Later on, the emphasis was on demonic forces rewarding the wicked, and the introduction of karmic justice in the afterlife.

And somewhere in the midst of this, or closer to the end came the literary, rather than the priestly, viewpoint... the Ehrman finds appealing. Ecclesiastes shows that prosperity and want both come to all, and the proportion of each is not so important as our attitude. I call it the Backgammon theory. And it is compelling. It discards superstitous expectations and attributions.

But Dammit, I haven't read the book, and it's not on my BookMooch wishlist (John's book is), some of Ehrman's more academic works are, and I'm currently reading Misquoting Jesus. I want to know what was speculated in the first 2 centuries BCE and how that influenced the emergence of orthodoxy among all the competing responses to the Good News of the Gospel. But maybe he's too close to that era and couldn't get his mind around it.

Evan said...


In the book, Ehrman makes it plain (as I think he also does in the lecture) that apocalypticism is the New Testament answer to suffering.

a helmet said...


what do you mean by this?