In a interview with NPR (April 1, 2012), Did Jesus Exist? the interviewer summarizes New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s views on the debate about whether or not Jesus Christ is a mythical figure:
Mythicists’ arguments are fairly plausible, Ehrman says. According to them, Jesus was never mentioned in any Roman sources and there is no archeological evidence that Jesus ever existed. Even Christian sources are problematic – the Gospels come long after Jesus’ death, written by people who never saw the man…. Most importantly…these mythicists point out that there are Pagan gods who were said to die and rise again and so the idea is that Jesus was made up as a Jewish god who died and rose again…. The mythicists have some right things to say… The Gospels do portray Jesus in ways that are non-historical.
When I passed along that excerpt to Dr. Robert M. Price, another mythicist who, like me, was the subject of Ehrman’s wrath in his defamatory book Did Jesus Exist?, Bob exclaimed: “Wow! That sounds like a retraction!”
Is it? Did Bart Ehrman retract his hastily composed screed, in which he tosses out calumny that could be construed as libel?
The gospels were written long after the purported events by people who never saw Jesus – on that fact Bart Ehrman and I concur wholeheartedly. Yet, according to Ehrman, we are supposed simply to rely on the “Aramaic” texts hypothesized to be at the basis of these pseudepigraphical gospels for our posited “historical” Jesus!
All of my major points are wrong?!
Note also that in his “review” of my book The Christ Conspiracy, Ehrman claims that “all of Acharya’s major points are in fact wrong.” Yet, one of my major points therein is that the gospels “come long after Jesus’ death, written by people who never saw the man.” If that point is wrong, so too is Ehrman’s contention of same, when he asserts that the four canonical gospels were not written by those in whose name they are pretended to be.
In his book Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bible’s Authors are Not Who We Think They Are (9), Ehrman comments:
The crucial question is this: Is it possible that any of the early Christian forgeries made it into the New Testament? That some of the books of the New Testament were not written by the apostles whose names are attached to them? That some of Paul’s letters were not actually written by Paul, but by someone claiming to be Paul? That Peter’s letters were not written by Peter? That James and Jude did not write the books that bear their names? Or…that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were not actually written by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? Scholars for over a hundred years have known that in fact this is the case.
In Christ Con, I cited some of that earlier scholarship, since few modern scholars at the time were making honest assessments like this one of Ehrman’s. Again, what he has said in this paragraph constitutes one of my major points, with which I basically start off my book – it is difficult to believe that Ehrman would not have noticed this part of my initial premise when he hastened to assail my scholarship.
In CC, I further questioned the validity of a number of so-called Pauline epistles, another major point with which Ehrman concurs, as can be seen from the above paragraph.
In my book Who Was Jesus? – which Ehrman did not read – I cited his research to back up several of these major points, including that we possess not the original gospels but merely “error-ridden copies!” Again, if that major point of mine is wrong, so too is Ehrman.
From my reading of his rant against me and my book, it truly appears that Ehrman did not even read my work, as he conveniently skips all the points with which he concurs, such as the above, as well as the forgery elsewhere within Christianity:
In short, there were long, protracted and even heated debates in the early church over forged documents. Early Christians realized that there were numerous forgeries in circulation, and they want to know which books were written by their alleged authors and which were not. (Ehrman, Forged: Writing in the Name of God, 22)
One of my major points in Christ Con is that the canonical texts are significantly interpolated, and another is that the authenticity of various of these texts was disputed in antiquity – both facts likewise expounded upon by Ehrman:
A number of the books of the New Testament were disputed already in early Christianity, among the Christian scholars of the second to the fourth centuries, who were arguing over which books should be included in Scripture. (Ehrman, Forged, 21)
I have, in reality, cited Ehrman’s work specifically because he has essentially proved several major points I made in Christ Con, which I have been revising and in which revision I cite him.
I have been wondering in this regard and others, such as the phallic bronze brouhaha, whether or not Ehrman simply received “Cliff Notes” of my book from an intern/assistant. In any event, the contention that all of my “major points are in fact wrong” is incorrect, as are other claims in Errman’s book. I also have a longer draft rebuttal, in addition to our major response to the book.
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