First, James McGrath has pointed to Thompson’s recent essay, calling it rather odd. McGrath points out what many of us see in other academic mythicis that “Thompson seems to be trying to both defend mythicism and distance himself from it.”
That’s the problem, ain’t it. Mythicism is being redefined merely as a healthy dose of doubt. I would say that if we are redefining the word, then we should see that it is a healthy dose of the loss of reality, but…
Tom didn’t like that. He suggests that because McGrath doesn’t believe Thompson and then sees that Thompson is indeed a mythicist that somehow McGrath has failed to read his book.
I’m trying not to comment too much on Thompson’s article, finding some personal flaws in it, but it is rather clear that Thompson is a mythicist.
Jim has posted some of it, in response to Bart’s failure to respond properly here. Seems that Prof. Ehrman thinks that a challenge is mean-spirited.
I got this from Steph:
Maurice Casey has responded which I repost here:
“Ehrman’s blog comments are extraordinarily self-centred, and make one wonder which New Testament scholars he has ever talked to about the existence of Jesus. For example, he comments, ‘before writing the book, like most New Testament scholars, I knew almost nothing abut the mythicist movement’. Most of us knew perfectly well that there was a massive attack on the existence of the historical Jesus in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Until recently, however, we thought that the work of Case and Goguel, supported by lots of detailed comments in other scholarly works, made it unnecessary for us to keep publishing about it when we were trying to make a contribution to knowledge, not just to repeat what had been written before. Among much modern scholarship with which he seems unfamiliar is recent work on the term ‘Son of Man’: his comments (Did Jesus Exist?, pp. 305-7) imply a complete lack of familiarity with Aramaic sources from the Sefire Inscriptions through the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Yerushalmi and the literature of the Syriac-speaking church, as well as recent secondary literature.
“The notion that none of us has read the work of recent mythicists again makes one wonder again which New Testament scholars he has ever talked to about the existence of Jesus. He comments again, ‘no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived.’ Most of us have spent a regrettable amount of time becoming regrettably familiar with their regrettable outpourings, some of us have discussed it with each other, with varying opinions about what needs to be done, and I have a book in an advanced state of preparation for publication by T & T Clark/Continuum, hopefully before the end of 2012. We don’t expect or want Ehrman at meetings of British New Testament scholars, but does he not attend SNTS either?”
EVERYTHING BELOW IS CONTRIBUTED BY STEPH FISHER:
Steph writes, “Bart Ehrman had deleted my own comments on his blog and sent me an email:”
“Your comments are mean-spirited and not appropriate for the blog. If you want to try again in a more temperate tone, I would consider including them. As you might imagine, I do have a response to your points.”
I have been advised by Casey and others that they are entirely appropriate so I will reproduce my own unpublished comments here:
“You say that New Testament scholars have never taken mythicists seriously, they have never seen a need to argue against their views. This is false. Case and Goguel for example explicitly demonstrated with argument and evidence the mythicist arguments to be flawed in 1912 and 1925. Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazareth introduces Price, Doherty and Zindler for example and explicitly provides evidence for their mistakes. His forthcoming volume later this year is also a refutation of the main mythicist arguments. Also you claim NT scholars have never tried to prove the existence of Jesus and have simply assumed it. This is untrue of Case, Goguel and the entire life work of Maurice Casey who has never assumed the existence of Jesus at all and has dedicated his life’s academic research to providing argument and evidence. I know what the book is about – I helped edit it. Just read the ded and preface. You made some unusual assumptions about Aramaic in your latest book and didn’t engage with the most recent critical scholarship which is a shame because so few New Testament scholars are competent Aramaists.
“However I did enjoy reading Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. I bought it when it was release in the nineties and I had graduated. It inspired my direction to a degree and I still find it useful at times.
“You say “The book you’re referring to here is a fairly full exposition of what he thinks is historical information about Jesus, a nice contribution to the field.” – Hardly a fair description of an academic career devoted to Aramaic research culminating in a book designed for a wider audience and providing argument and evidence to demonstrate the existence of a historical figure, simultaneously engaging with mythicist arguments which argue the contrary, is it?
“I feel compelled to add that your derogatory insinuations about New Testament scholars are false and offensive. Responsible New Testament scholars around the world do take mythicists seriously. They do read the published work and even the blogs. They do not just dismiss them. That would be irresponsible. Jesus scholars do NOT assume the existence of the historical Jesus. I gave you three scholars spanning a century. I could give you three hundred more – or even more. And actually we read the German edition of Schweitzer (including his other work). You then say “many scholars in the field, I would venture to say, until my book had not even heard much about [mythicists]” which is an extraordinary outburst of self-confidence, effectively your own assumptions without evidence. It is utterly false – ‘until my book’?!”
One thing though… if I was Carrier, I’d go with the degree in Classics because it would seem that at least at that point, he would have a better chance to argue his points than a degree in Ancient History. His overblown rebuttal of the degree proffered by Ehrman by mistake only creates this sense that Carrier is a rather tiny little man, bent only on his own self-aggrandizement. Further, what I thought was a poor attempt by a Classicist to use a math formula has now turned into what I consider a laughable gag that someone with a degree in Ancient History, who should know better about how Ancient History was done, would attempt to pretend to use a math formula to discover the probability of the Historical Jesus.
Carrier has a review up on Bart Ehrman’s book on the historical Jesus. I haven’t yet read it yet, as I am, as you know, WRITING MY OWN (and while not dealing expressly with the historical Jesus, it will, however, I hope, have something to say in that regard).
Anyway, so as I started to read Carrier’s review, his opening paragraph essentially said all I needed to know:
Moreover, it completely fails at its one explicit task: to effectively critique the arguments for Jesus being a mythical person.
Here’s the thing… one would have to first assume that the arguments of the mythicists are worth considering. They aren’t. It is like Ken Ham asking a real scientist to prove that Creationism is false. First, one has to assume Creationism (6000 YEC) is true. Why waste time debunking garbage? Facts are presented in Science, but because the Hamites do not accept them, then they claim that they haven’t been “effectively critiques.”
I’m sure that there are a lot more fallacies in Carrier’s (world renowned? avid fans? Really?) thought process, but over all, the fact that one believes that someone else has to pay them attention or else is just silly.
“I wanted to approach this question as an historian to see whether that’s right or not,” Ehrman tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
The answer is straightforward and widely accepted among scholars of all faiths, but Ehrman says there is a large contingent of people claiming that Jesus never did exist. These people are also known as mythicists.
“It was a surprise to me to see how influential these mythicists are,” Ehrman says. “Historically, they’ve been significant and in the Soviet Union, in fact, the mythicist view was the dominant view, and even today, in some parts of the West – in parts of Scandinavia — it is a dominant view that Jesus never existed,” he says.
While reading this post, a commentator post a link to what we will examine below. One of the issues with KJV-Onlyism is that it is Anglo-centric, meaning that many of those who promote it would declare England/American as the lost tribe(s) of Israel. I want to just answer a few things from Sam Gipp’s take on why there is not perfect bible in any other language.
Had this [the epistle of Barnabas] remained in subsequent versions, “the suffering of Jews in the subsequent centuries would, if possible, have been even worse”, says the distinguished New Testament scholar Professor Bart Ehrman.
And although many of the other alterations and differences are minor, these may take some explaining for those who believe every word comes from God. Faced with differing texts, which is the truly authentic one? Mr Ehrman was a born again Bible-believing Evangelical until he read the original Greek texts and noticed some discrepancies. The Bible we now use can’t be the inerrant word of God, he says, since what we have are the sometimes mistaken words copied by fallible scribes.
Don’t you just love how BBC puts this – ‘noticed some discrepancies.’ Professor Ehrman’s faith was built upon what? Was it Christ? No – what Ehrman wanted was once single manuscript that was perfect, it seems, and when he could not find that, he lost all faith. This is where textual criticism comes into play – it removes the years of fallible scribes, political motivations, and doctrinal additions. As a science, it strives to uphold the word of God as it was written – yet, some are unable to handle the fact that when the hands of men touch something, more often than not, they seek to corrupt it.
“When people ask me if the Bible is the word of God I answer ‘which Bible?’”
The Codex – and other early manuscripts – omit some mentions of ascension of Jesus into heaven, and key references to the Resurrection, which the Archbishop of Canterbury has said is essential for Christian belief. Other differences concern how Jesus behaved. In one passage of the Codex, Jesus is saidto be “angry” as he healed a leper, whereas the modern text records him as healing with “compassion”. Also missing is the story of the woman taken in adultery and about to be stoned – until Jesus rebuked the Pharisees (a Jewish sect), inviting anyone without sin to cast the first stone. Nor are there words of forgiveness from the cross. Jesus does not say “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.
The Codex has been around a long time – yet it garners the attention of the deep-seated conspiracy theorists in each of us. The Codex is often seen as a ‘corrector’ yet we do have hold MSS. Indeed, some pieces are missing – but it is 1600 years old has was found in a desert monastery, split up by the reigning national powers in 1844, and subsequently had to endure Western Civilization.
The BBC may not be the best news outlet to right this – but I bet the National Geographic will run some conspiracy program about 4th century Christians who suddenly declared Jesus Christ divine and went about writing their own bible. Better yet, I saw we make a movie out of it!
CNN, in conjunction (I assume) with the new movie, Angels and Demons, is running a story which is laughable at best. First, the title – really? This one man has ‘debunked’ the bible? Read the rest of the story at the link below.
Just so you know, Bart Ehrman says he’s not the anti-Christ.Bart Ehrman says most of the New Testament is a forgery but it’s still an important body of work.
He says he’s not trying to destroy your faith. He’s not trying to bash the Bible. And, though his mother no longer talks to him about religion, Ehrman says some of his best friends are Christian.
Ehrman, a best-selling author and a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is a biblical sleuth whose investigations make some people very angry. Like the fictional Robert Langdon character played by actor Tom Hanks in the movie “Angels & Demons,” he delves into the past to challenge some of Christianity’s central claims.
In Ehrman’s latest book, “Jesus, Interrupted,” he concludes:
Doctrines such as the divinity of Jesus and heaven and hell are not based on anything Jesus or his earlier followers said.
At least 19 of the 27 books in the New Testament are forgeries.
Believing the Bible is infallible is not a condition for being a Christian.
“Christianity has never been about the Bible being the inerrant word of God,” Ehrman says. “Christianity is about the belief in Christ.”
“I never thought I’d say “Amen” to television satirist Stephen Colbert, but Colbert’s asking Bart Ehrman, “Oh, so you know the early Jews better than the early Jews?” is just classic. It’s a question that should be asked to more people, and more often. Colbert is here for a moment. So is Ehrman. So are we. But Jesus is risen, and he is everything.“
One of Ehrman’s main points goes unchallenged on the show, however. That being that the earliest Christians didn’t think Jesus was divine. Ehrman’s argument seems to be that even though Jesus is clearly portrayed as being divine in the Gospel of John (which he admits), in the (ostensibly earlier) synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke) he is not portrayed as being God. So, Ehrman is saying, since the synoptics are earlier and don’t portray Jesus as God, John can be dismissed as a later invention (or evolution) of the Jesus story.
At the outset, this black-and-white distinction is false, since reading the synoptics should not result in anyone thinking that the authors intended to portray Jesus as “just a guy”. Even if someone wants to claim Jesus is not divine in the synoptics, it would be ridiculous to say that Jesus is not seen as being utterly unique and far above and beyond all other people who have ever lived.
But when Ehrman’s claim that Jesus’ divinity is absent from the synoptic gospels is studied more carefully, there are at least two huge problems. First, I think it’s false that Jesus’ divinity is not found in the synoptics. There are in fact many ways the authors speak of Jesus’ divinity in the synoptics. I’ve explained one of these ways in depth in my post “Jesus Never Claimed to be God?“. I think we can see in the early synoptic gospel writings how the authors are struggling to comprehend this god-man, this real human being who lived and ate and walked with them, but who at the same time was nevertheless “God in the flesh”. (See also Glenn Miller on the subject of Jesus’ self-understanding in the synoptics.)
The second problem is that the synoptic gospels are not the earliest documents in the New Testament. The earliest documents are generally agreed to be Paul’s letters, which contain some of the strongest statements of Jesus’ divinity, such as Colossians 2:9: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” and Philippians 2:5-7: “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Therefore, going by Ehrman’s method, since Paul’s writings are earlier than the synoptics, the should be trusted instead, and these statements regarding Jesus’ divinity should be believed ahead of the later synoptic gospels’ descriptions.
A featured article series currently on TheLife.com, written by Canadian philosopher Michael Horner, investigates Jesus’ resurrection as final proof of Jesus’ divinity; ie, that not only did Jesus claim to be divine, but that the resurrection validated His claim. Please take a moment today to read “Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?”
Dr. West tells us of Bart Ehrman’s latest interview. Personally, I will Bart would should go away. We all know how he feels about the bible anyway.
Fresh Air from WHYY, · Bible scholar Bart Ehrman says that the Gospels are at odds with each other on important points regarding the life, death and divinity of Jesus. In his new book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them) Ehrman examines how these contradictions affect our understanding of the historical Jesus — and of the authors of the Gospels.
Ehrman is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of more than a dozen books, including Misquoting Jesus and God’s Problem.