Monday, April 25, 2011

A few questions for Bart Ehrman

Riffing off of my last post and Bart Ehrman's recent appearance on the Unbelievable? radio show, I'd like to transcribe here something that Ehrman said, at minute 44:12.

This isn't the biggest argument against Jesus having been raised from the dead, but one always has to look at what kind of witnesses you have, and when you look at the Gospels of the New Testament, it's striking just how many differences there are in their accounts of the resurrection.  I have my students do an exercise, my undergrads; I have them simply do a careful study of what Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all say about what happened on the morning of the resurrection, the alleged resurrection, and compare their notes, and they're struck at just how different they are. Who actually goes to the tomb that morning? Is it Mary Magdalene by herself or with other women? If with other women, how many other women? What are they named? It depends on which Gospel you read.  Was the stone rolled away before they got there or after they got there? It depends on which Gospel you read. 
So, given that, I have a few questions for Dr Ehrman.  

Where in your writings, scholarly or popular, or your lectures, have you interacted with harmonisations of these 4 accounts proposed by others who are a bit better educated in Bible exposition and exegesis than undergraduate students at a secular university, and demonstrated that they are insufficient? 

Do you commend the practice of having undergraduate students at a university that is not set up to appeal to the best and brightest on a given topic perform a "careful study" of that topic as a decisive test for truth? 
(After all, one would expect to find a much higher percentage of gifted and focused Bible exposition students in the PhD program at Reformed Theological Seminary or Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, not in New Testament 101 at UNC Chapel Hill.)

Since you apparently do, would you accept as a definitive conclusion that "Darwinian evolution as described by modern science did not happen, and the Earth is ~6-8000 years old" if I were to have 19 year old Bible college students perform a "careful study" of it? Would you nod in agreement or shake your head in bemused "What were they thinking?" dissent if I were to take that conclusion to a worldwide podcast, in conversation with a PhD-holding, leading proponent of Darwinian evolution like Richard Dawkins?  Should anyone expect that Dawkins would take such an assertion seriously?


  1. <3 Love the post. I'm a senior at University of Memphis and I see way too much of this. The religion professors never interact with anything half conservative or with the early sources or patristics. Most of the time they are just hatemongering, using ehrman's writings as a source of truth. Then their students walk around campus acting as though they have found the absolute answer to christianity. So, thank you for your diligent posting!

  2. Emailed Dr Ehrman with the contents of this post.

    Sorta doubt I'll get a reply though. :-D

  3. He did reply. Nice of him.

    I responded.