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Bart Ehrman

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Ehrman’s Orthodox Corruption of Scripture[1] was interesting but apart from that I have never understood why so many people seem to get excited over any work by Ehrman. The books of his I’ve read are very light-weight, often demonstrating an unprofessional ignorance of the current scholarship, riddled with logical fallacies, and sometimes containing fundamental errors of fact. How he acquired his reputation as such a prominent scholar I do not know.
—Neil Godfrey[2]

Bart D. Ehrman (1955–) is an American New Testament scholar and author, and the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the same said university. His books are mainly about the Bible and Scriptures and often contain textual criticism.

Bart Ehrman was an evangelical Christian as a teen, however through his hard, careful study of the Bible, along with the problem of evil, he now identifies himself as an agnostic.[3]

Although skeptical of classical Christian theological claims, Bart Ehrman does not subscribe to the "mythicist" theory that Jesus of Nazareth was an entirely fictional person. The first book describing his portrait of the historical Jesus was his 2000 Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, in which he heavily (but not entirely) followed Albert Schweitzer in arguing that Jesus was an apocalyptist who believed that cataclysmic end-time events were shortly going to occur. In March of 2012, Ehrman published a book giving his reasons for believing Jesus actually existed, entitled Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.

So why do many people get excited over any work by Ehrman? León Santiago opines:

Bart Ehrman is a rock star. Well … as close to a rock star as a geeky Ivy League academic with tenure can get, anyway. After a long industrious, prolific, and distinguished career teaching the historical Jesus, he now finds himself in a most enviable position, one that other lesser-known New Testament scholars drooly aspire to. He is without question the best-selling author in the field of New Testament studies today, penning one successful (and usually provocative—at least to the evangelical mindset) book on Christian origins after another. His is on an impressive (and lucrative) streak. Well-known among scholars, he's also become an ubiquitous presence in the talk-show circuit, in book-signing tours, on the radio, in documentaries that profile the latest reconstruction(s) of Jesus, and in all manner of media. He's big time, a go-to "professional expert", as ubiquitous now as Bishop Spong, Elaine Pagels, Dom Crossan, and N.T. Wright have been for a while.[4]

Erhman v. Craig[edit]

Bart Erhman debated Christian apologist William Lane Craig at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The topic was, Is there Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?. Dr. Ehrman's main problem was that he would not accept the possibility of God intervening in the physical world to Resurrect Jesus.
—From the Conservapedia article[5]

Well that certainly is a bizarre way of stating Erhman's "problem", which is not Erectile Dysfunction, but rather "he would not accept the possibility of God intervening in the physical world to Resurrect Jesus." However the more discerning viewer might note that "Ehrman hammers home the point that historians exclude appeals to miracles, on methodological grounds."[6] And that Craig's problem is that he is not credible (perhaps also suffering ED) and that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

Historicity of Jesus[edit]

Before and after writing that book [Did Jesus Exist?], Ehrman was and is capable of proper critical research on the biblical texts. But for some reason, during the writing of Did Jesus Exist?, Ehrman’s standards dropped remarkably, only for the ‘old Ehrman’ to return soon after, as if he suffered from a fugue state. I suspect that Ehrman consciously or unconsciously realised that the case for Jesus would be very poor indeed if he consistently applied his critical approach and all of his vast knowledge to this question, leading to this strange Jekyll and Hyde situation.
Raphael Lataster[7]

Apart from Maurice Casey,Wikipedia Ehrman's work on the question of the historicity of Jesus—as a sustained argument that Jesus lived—is not comparable to any other work by a contemporary scholar who also holds the historicity position. Ehrman and Casey are the only contemporary "secular" scholars to comprehensively address this issue. Ehrman writes, "Odd as it may seem, no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived."[8] Ehrman also notes that his book Did Jesus Exist? was written for a popular audience and that in regards to the question of the historicity of Jesus, "I was not arguing the case for scholars, because scholars already know the answer to that question."[9]

Ben Goren notes Ehrman's position on Jesus as:

Ehrman believes in a Jesus who was a Jewish preacher and teacher crucified during the reign of Pontius Pilate. Towards the end of his book, Mr. Ehrman indicates that he believes that his Jesus was born into poverty and was either a carpenter or a carpenter’s son. He began his public ministry while trapped in a poverty-stricken lower-class life. He was an “The end is nigh! Repent!” type of preacher. He was baptized by John the Baptist. He “raised the ire of Pharisees,” causing a ruckus in the Temple but not at the scale depicted by the Gospels. Pilate personally ordered his crucifixion after a brief trial at the beginning of Pesach, the holiest holiday of them all. Roman soliders flogged Mr. Ehrman's Jesus on his way to the Cross, and he was dead within six hours.[10]


  • No Greek or Roman author from the first-century mentions Jesus. [...] we do not have a single reference to Jesus by anyone—pagan, Jew, or Christian—who was a contemporary eyewitness [...] the Gospels of the New Testament are not eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus. [...] The Gospel writers (anonymous Greek-speaking Christians living thirty-five to sixty-five years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death) were simply writing down episodes that they had heard from the life of Jesus.[11]
  • "It is true that the Gospels are riddled with other kinds of historical problems [separate from the historicity of Jesus] and that they relate events that almost certainly did not happen."[12]
  • "[Per non-Christian references to Jesus in writings that were produced after a hundred years of when Jesus is traditionally thought to have died] writings after that time almost certainly cannot be considered independent and reliable witnesses to his life but were undoubtedly based simply on what the authors had heard about Jesus, probably from his followers."[13]

Contra Ehrman[edit]

  • Richard Carrier:
    • "Ehrman on Jesus: A Failure of Facts and Logic", Richard Carrier Blogs. Review of DJE.
    • “How Not to Defend Historicity”, An Evaluation of Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?. ISBN 9781578840199.
  • Raphael Lataster:
    • "Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus", Literature & Aesthetics 26 (1). Review of DJE [PDF].
    • "Ehrman’s Dual Approach towards the Gospels", Questioning the Historicity of Jesus. ISBN 978-9004397934.


  • Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium Oxford University Press, USA. (1999) ISBN 0-19-512474-X
  • Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew Oxford University Press, USA. (2003) ISBN 0-19-514183-0
  • The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings Oxford University Press, USA. (2003) ISBN 0-19-515462-2
  • Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why HarperSanFrancisco. (2005) ISBN 0-06-073817-0
  • God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question—Why We Suffer HarperCollins, USA. (2008) ISBN 0-06-117397-5
  • Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) HarperCollins, USA. (2009) ISBN 0-06-117393-2
  • Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperOne. 2012. ISBN 9780062206442. 

External links[edit]



  1. Countryman, Louis William (1997). "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament. By Bart D. Ehrman. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. xiii + 314 pp. $45.00.". Church History 66 (1): 81–83.  doi:10.2307/3169634.
  2. Comment by Neil Godfrey—2 July 2020—per "Prof. “Errorman” and the non-Christian sources — Part 3: Tacitus and Josephus". 30 June 2020.  Vridar.
  3. Ehrman, Bart D.. Jesus, Interrupted HarperCollins, 2009. ISBN 0061173932
  4. Santiago (13 May 2012). "Review of Bart Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist"".  quixotic infidel (the).
  5. Bart Ehrman, 12 July 2020.
  6. Cain, Benjamin (10 July 2020). "Clarifying and Debating the Christ Myth Theory: Round Two" (in en).  Medium.
  7. Lataster 2019b, p. 71.
  8. Ehrman (5 May 2012). "Did Jesus Exist as Part One".  The Bart Ehrman Blog.
  9. Ehrman (25 April 2012). "Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier".  The Bart Ehrman Blog.
  10. Goren, Ben (4 April 2012). "Ehrman’s Folly". Archived from the original on 14 April 2012.
  11. Ehrman 2012, pp. 43, 46, 49, 72.
  12. Ehrman 2012, Ch. 6 §. The Gospels Contain Nonhistorical Materials.
  13. Ehrman 2012, p. 50.