Monday, April 25, 2016

Does God know Greek?

Der Spiegel

Micky Maus: Herr Doktor Ehrman, you used to believe in the verbal inspiration of Scripture. How did you lose your faith?

Ehrman: I was a student at Princeton, taking a course in Classical Hebrew. And it suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks: "Unless Yahweh knew Hebrew, how could he inspire the Hebrew Bible?"

Micky Maus: Could you flesh that out a bit?

Ehrman: Literacy was very rare in the ancient Near East. So how did Yahweh learn literary Hebrew? I couldn't locate any school records of Yahweh attending yeshiva. And Hebrew Union College didn't exist in the Second Millennium BC. So Yahweh might have been high school dropout, for all I know.  

Micky Maus: Isn't it possible, if not probable, that the records were lost?

Ehrman: Yes, but history is about what you can show. So unless you can show that Yahweh attended yeshiva, that's not a historical datum. And how else could he learn Hebrew? He didn't have parents. So it poses an insoluble conundrum for Christians. 

Micky Maus: What about the NT? 

Ehrman: Same problem. How did Yahweh learn literary Greek? There's no documentary evidence that he attended Plato's Academy. And I couldn't find a library card with Yahweh's name on it for the Royal Library of Alexandria. 

Micky Maus: Suppose it's a miracle? 

Ehrman: If it's a miracle, then it can't be a historical datum. Historians can only establish what probably happened in the past, and by definition a miracle is the least probable occurrence. And so, by the very nature of the canons of historical research, we can’t claim historically that a miracle probably happened. By definition, it probably didn’t. And history can only establish what probably did.

If I saw Jesus multiply fish with my own eyes, I wouldn't believe it. I mean, what am I gonna believe–Hume or my lying eyes? 

Micky Maus: But if you saw Jesus multiply fish with your very own eyes, how could you not believe it? In that event, what do you think really happened?

Ehrman: If I saw Jesus multiply the fish right before my eyes, I'd assume he was hiding them under his cloak. 

Micky Maus: Isn't 5000 fish a whole lot of fish to hide under his cloak?

Ehrman: I didn't say it was going to be easy, but anything is more likely than a miracle. So it must be Jesus pulling 5000 fish out of his loincloth.

Micky Maus: You think that's more probable than a miracle? 

Ehrman: Absolutely! Didn't you hear my definition? 

Micky Maus: What if someone rejects your definition?

Ehrman: They can't. By definition, my definition is true! 

1 comment:

  1. Took me a while to understand why you used the German references. First I thought you were going to use "the he's literally Hitler" fallacy but I realized that German NT scholars are notoriously liberal/left-leaning. Steve do you have any hypothesis how liberalism developed and grew and why it flourished in particular in Europe?