Bart Ehrman: Caught in a Lie?

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So, I was scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, and J. Warner Wallace had a link to a lengthy blog post over at Christ the Tao that seems worthy if consideration.

Something about Dr. Bart Ehrman, he’s the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and has written several popular level books including God’s Problem, Misquoting Jesus, and his most recent work How Jesus Became God.

Just a sample from the post:

Let the little children come unto me,” said Jesus, “For of such is the Kingdom of God.”

Bart Ehrman similarly accepts youth into his classrooms, but offers them a radically different message: The Kingdom of God, if there be a God, had nothing to do with Jesus.  In fact, Jesus was “not unique:” there were any number of sages very much like Jesus.  Take Apollonius of Tyana, for example!

But Ehrman seems compelled to tell numerous half-truths and out-right falsehoods, to invent some facts and obscure others, so as to trick his kids and readers into accepting this alleged parallel.  …

Read more here

22 comments

  1. The fingerprints of human interaction is on every page of the Bible – from special revelation to it being written down, to it being copied, to it being translated; did you know that of the tens of thousands of manuscripts – bits and pieces of the story, a page here a paragraph there – none of them are identical? Some of them have the errors you’d expect to see, transposed letters and words, the same word twice, or a missing word; but there are whole sections of the story that are absent in one manuscript and present in others. Denying that humans wrote, copied, and translated the words seems to me to be more foolish than claiming special revelation explains away the inconsistencies as if God spoke the English and it fell out of the sky and onto our desks. The originals could very well have been inerrant, but those were lost to time centuries ago. Now all that is left is faith; to believe in the word anyway even when the evidence doesn’t go your way. Isn’t that more of the whole point? To understand that the Bible is a book thousands of years old with dozens of authors who lived hundreds of years apart from each other and yet still believe anyway that Jesus’ arms are open to the the strongest believers and the doubting Thomas’?

      • So how does that change the reality? The autographs, the original papyri, the ones that the authors penned and did not copy have decomposed and were disintegrated long ago. There’s no comparing the earliest manuscripts to the autographs to confirm inerrancy; at this point it’s just a belief with no evidence to support it. Besides, a document written and signed by a bunch of people doesn’t make it so. What proof is there is that these manuscripts have all the pieces of the original, inerrant autographs in them? How can we be sure that those guys weren’t making up this statement? What proof did they use to support it? You can put all of the manuscripts together and find pieces that are common to all of them that could be from the same source – but you’ll also find pieces that are common to none or few of them that probably aren’t from the original source. There’s no way to double-check and confirm what is and what isn’t from the autographs. If you ask me, when Jesus came it was give us a way to salvation, not to make the Bible the fourth person of the trinity whose authority cannot be challenged.

      • Actually I don’t know and I can’t, nobody can. In the ancient world, there was a lot of ambiguity when it comes to the hows and whys of spiritual things. The Greeks and Romans had a pantheon of gods that were mysterious in their own workings and relationships. I accept that the ancient world would have been okay with not knowing things. I just don’t think that I should put a lot of stock in inerrancy because it’s a document that does not originate with the Bible. You might as well link me to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and say it’s just as authoritative because it quotes the Bible. What really bothers me more is that my denomination used inerrancy to disfellowship churches who weren’t ideological clones of their ideas. That’s not the kingdom that Jesus wants us to create.

      • The problem is that you are asserting that authoritatively.
        When it comes to the New Testament, we have the earliest, most reliable, and most consistent stream of transmission of any ancient documents.
        See this debate:

        See this lecture:

  2. Why do Ehrman and other historians pretend they use the same New Testament that is sold throughout the world? They don’t. Their “book” doesn’t include any of the miracles contained in the New Testament.

  3. Drug companies spend millions to test the efficacy of the drugs they’d like to market, seeking to establish a statistically significant favorable response. It isn’t easy to do when the tests are controlled and double blind.

    From a time span of over 2,000 years and from around the world, people of all races, economic and educational backgrounds, young and old, male and female, some with criminal backgrounds, and some who never had a sip of wine, have expressed similar feelings, attitudes and responses to this One, Jesus Christ, the risen Son Of God. They say He changed them in wonderful ways, that He became so real, so beautiful, so forgiving, such an inspiration, such a great friend, so merciful, so loyal and kind, a very present help in times of trouble.

    Most of these folks never met all the others who make the same claims. Many knew nothing about what to expect as they received Christ. Many had little or no religious training or exposure. Yet, all of us knew we had had an encounter with Someone not of this world. All of us recognized either immediately or in time that God heard our prayer and Jesus came to live in us, and that He had lived, was crucified, arose and sent His Comforter in His place to be with and in us.

    How is something like that possible if He never existed or if He was not Who He said He was as described in the records we have of His life? Statistically, it is impossible. Scientifically, it is impossible. We identify Him not as a rule book or a set of beliefs but as a real, live personal presence. It is He who has changed and made us new, not some thing we practice or try to incorporate into our lifestyle.

  4. Let’s play pretend. Let’s say all the New Testament manuscripts we had in our possession, or copies of the copies of the copies, we were aware of contained just a few hundred verses. Let’s suppose that all we knew of Jesus we learned from John chapters 14, 15, 16 and the Beatitudes, one birth story and a resurrection story and a few other important verses. What if we were forced to base our beliefs about Christ solely on that limited information. After all, what did the repentant thief know?

    My hypothetical premise is that we actually need less to go on than what we have to be saved and heaven bound. The idea, hypothetically, is just this: if, IF, we discovered the rest of the N.T. was forged, altered, added to, deleted from, imagined, exaggerated, inaccurate, and all we had consisted of the most basic core of Christ’s biography and teachings, that would be sufficient for mankind to be able to acquire saving faith in Him.

    P.S. I would love to have a pet elephant and the opportunity to blast off earth on a Saturn Five rocket.

      • When the higher critic announces that the N.T. is the most significant factor and influence in the development of Western civilization, he has set the standard so high-while flattering those who believe it is the most important story ever told-he necessarily implies that it therefore demands the closest scrutiny. Be that as it may, go right ahead. By all means, examine every word with a fine tooth comb.

        We’ll join you. What a fascinating endeavor.

        Let’s bear in mind a couple key considerations as we move ahead. We are constantly reminded, in no uncertain terms, that Christians have an agenda and as a result, they know we come to conclusions about all things Christian that reflects our passion, our lack of expertise and mental acuity, our fanaticism, our closed-mindedness, our unwillingness to appreciate scholarly work and its conclusions, and our resistance to anything we don’t want to believe. Christians are brainwashed, accept whatever we’re told by our uneducated Pastors, we all adore Trump, we are racists, tobacco chewing rednecks, gun toting bigots and approve of everything America has ever done and will ever do.

        Additionally, Christians must keep in mind that those who disagree with us don’t have any biases, they are always correct, they are far superior in every way and they never write or publish anything but the absolute truth no matter how much money they rake in. In fact, it is vital that Christians never question their capacity for greed and sensationalism. They have neither.

  5. Therefore, we must not be surprised when we correct higher critics who make mistake after mistake after mistake, and they refuse to acknowledge their errors. We can’t begin to compare ourselves to them and we shouldn’t try. We must be scholars and we must be the same type of scholar they are.

    For example, the miracles described in the N.T., according to them, do not merit scholarly historical consideration. Wipe them away before beginning to scrutinize the N.T. They don’t count. Which is fine, just refrain from calling it the New Testament. Call it something else because it isn’t the N.T. when you remove much of its content right off the bat.

    I think these illustrious scholars should be honest and up front and no longer call a book the New Testament when it is nothing of the kind. What if we studied the Theory of Relativity, E=M. Forget the speed of light squared. You cannot square the speed of light. Nothing is faster than the speed of light so don’t go squaring it. How about that?

    It is inaccurate, wrong, dishonest, and ridiculous to mislabel the N.T. in that manner. It really is.

  6. Guess what? Did you know that Ehrman says it is not called lying when the writers of the New Testament are aware that Jesus came from Nazareth but they realize they must show He’s from Bethlehem? An Old Testament verse announces that little detail. Micah 5: 2

    “It is almost certainly because they both want to be able to claim that his birth was in Bethlehem, even though both of them know for a fact he did not come from Bethlehem, but from Nazareth.”

    Excuse me. That’s called lying.

    “I never have, never will, and never would call them liars.” Bart Ehrman

    “…a lie is a statement that the speaker states to be true while believing it to be false. I don’t think the Gospel writers knew/thought that what they said was false.” Bart Ehrman

    Why wouldn’t Bart call them liars? If they knew for a fact that He didn’t come from Bethlehem but rather Nazareth, and yet they create stories to show specifically He was from Bethlehem, that is lying, even by his definition. But Bart won’t call lying, lying. At least not when the N.T. writers are guilty of lying.

    Hmm. I wonder why? What would happen if it became well known that Dr. Bart Ehrman called the New Testament writers “liars”? How do you think he would be received? What’s your best guess?

    So, in reality, Bart defines what they do as lying. At the same time he refuses to say they are liars. What does that make Ehrman?

  7. And our tax dollars pay for him to teach his beliefs while he created a tax exempt charity which he uses to discriminate against Christians and encourages anti-Christian rhetoric by his supporters.

  8. Unless his followers decide to challenge the content in his books, who can say how far off track he will lead them?

    “To the individual with even rudimentary training in textual criticism, church history, philosophy, and logic the multitude of problems with this book are easily identifiable. Rather, I found this book difficult because virtually every assertion and every claim is so fully laden with exaggeration, misrepresentation, selective reporting, and outright falsehoods that almost every line requires a recasting in an accurate light and involves a lengthy response to a series of misrepresentations and half-truths, each built upon the conclusions of the previous. Ehrman has woven a tight web of exaggeration, partial truths, falsehood, and misrepresentation…”

    In response to Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”

    The International Society of Christian Apologetics
    © 2006 Thomas A. Howe, Ph.D.
    Professor of Bible and Biblical Languages
    Southern Evangelical Seminary

  9. if we do not have the original words, as Ehrman claims, then there is no basis for Ehrman’s claim to know that “the words God reputedly inspired had been changed . . .”170

    The only way to identify a change is to know what has been changed. For Ehrman to know that the words God inspired have changed, he would have to know what those words were and be able to compare them with the words we have in order to identify the changes. TOM HOWE

    Howe knows his stuff and he sees through Ehrman’s errors like it’s clear skies ahead. Almost every thing Ehrman says is bogus.

  10. “Ehrman’s double standard on this point is revealed in his matter-of-fact observation about
    the literacy of Hermas, a character in the early second century text called The Shepherd of
    Hermas. By simply reading this story Ehrman concludes, ‘He was obviously literate, and so
    comparatively well educated.’ Ehrman takes the statements in this text at face value and
    concludes that Hermas must have been literate and comparatively well educated. However, he is
    not willing to do the same with the writings of the New Testament even though there is far more
    historical evidence to support the existence, literacy, and education of men like John and Peter
    than that such a person as Hermas ever lived.” Tom Howe

    How true. Remarkably, our unbiased and always fair scholar, or so he says, Ehrman quickly grants authenticity where it could be easily doubted and routinely casts doubts on what easily could be considered authentic, and he does so almost always in favor of non-scriptural accounts. Ehrman is fixated on finding fault and error in Scripture, which obviously taints his capacity to interpret Scripture properly.

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