March 24, 2017

April 28, 2012

Bart D. Ehrman admits that Jesus existed: liberal commenters shriek

I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner last night, and lucked out with some really enjoyable college-age table mates.  One gent shared that he’d found himself “In the strange situation of defending Bart Ehrman.” 

It seems that cultured Bible despiser Ehrman’s March 20 contribution to the Huffington Post, in which he made this stunning, right-wing conspiratorial admission,

Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed

was just too much for the even more cultured commenteriat at HuffPo:

I keep looking in the fiction section of the Library and book stores and still can’t find any of his books or the other books written by theologists! I think they keep misplacing them!

Harry Potter was inconveniently a tosspot, therefore he existed.

Paul did NOT write about Jesus and knew nothing about him. The brother (James) was was also the name of the brother of Jesus of Damneus (the High Priest that Josephus writes about). Strange coincidence? or post-added?

Attis was ALSO a “crucified messiah”, as was Horus and Mithras.

I note that Mr Ehrman gives no explicit proof of Jesus’ existence.

The comments go on and on, and it’s the usual smug stuff of people who “took a class in religion” and now know everything about anything.

The argument actually turns on the Bible.  Ehrman believes that the New Testament is a bunch of “biased” (his word) propaganda, but that this is just flawed interpretation of an actual, historical Jesus.

The commenters argue that if they don’t agree with what the NT says about Jesus theologically, then he could not possibly have existed historically.

Man, so glad “science and reason” are the guiding lights of our culture.


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I have a pet theory about this phenomenon which, true to form, I will not hesitate to bore everyone with.

I think we may be seeing one of the marks of the end times in that there are so many people in this world who have become closed off to any new knowledge that doesn’t fit what they already know or at least think they know. Thanks to the internet we are seeing the greatest spread of information over the widest possible field of exposure that we have ever seen in our history. It is so easy these days to find the information that we need to prove that what we believe is perfectly correct and therefore absolutely beyond any need to reconsider. Anyone can find the “empirical” proof that they need to support any opinion they wish to hold.

The loser here is of course any notion of objective truth. Instead everyone has their own version which is fully supported by the “facts”

I have finally reached the point where I am no longer make any effort to try and persuade anyone of anything anymore if the forum is on the internet. It represents the greatest collection of know-it-alls ever gathered with too much information at their finger tips to back up any argument whatever.

How does this relate to the end times. Think about the space that is left to convince others to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. It is shrinking at the current speed and spread of information. As fast as my words here can reach your eyes no matter where you are in the world, some person has found someone pretending to great learning who has all the facts and evidence to support their own world view. Just as fast, that person can post chapter and verse of their favorite expert to fortify their position that I and anyone who disagrees with them are total know-nothing idiots.

Now, I am not one of those crazy people who thinks that they can know the time of the end. I am not about to break out my end of the world sign and stake out a street corner somewhere. But as fellow Christians, we all believe the end IS coming. I just think it might just be possible to see some hint of how it might unfold even if we do not know the time. Yes, I am beginning to think that the Internet for all its wonders just might be an agent of the apocalypse. You heard it here first, folks grin

[1] Posted by StayinAnglican on 4-28-2012 at 12:39 PM · [top]

I glanced at the comments, 5,000 +.  Looks like too much brain power got wasted.

[2] Posted by Nikolaus on 4-28-2012 at 01:49 PM · [top]

5,308 comments on “whether Jesus existed”! Methinks the commenters do protest too much.

That being said, what Ehrman offered was a very weak cup of tea. “It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day.” Well, technically, that is true—Jesus died in A.D. 30, and there are no Roman authors before that date who mention him.

But we have a tiny, tiny fraction of all the Roman writings generated in the first thirty years of the first century. What counts is that we have the Annals of Tacitus, one of the greatest of Roman historians (that’s why his manuscripts were largely preserved), written about A.D. 96, based on official records of the Empire (to which Tacitus had been given access), and which name Jesus as a religious radical (from the Roman point of view) who was put to death by Pontius Pilate during the reign of Tiberius. How more explicit a Roman reference could you wish for?

For Ehrman to decline to mention Tacitus as one of the strongest, independent evidences for Jesus’ historical existence in an article devoted to that subject is reason enough to make me disinclined to open his book—even if he does come to the right conclusion.

[3] Posted by A. S. Haley on 4-28-2012 at 02:14 PM · [top]

Also, let’s not forget Suetonius, another Roman historian who, writing in Nero’s reign, mentioned the band of followers of “Christos” who had been so disruptive that the Emperor Claudius had banned them from Rome in about 51 A.D.—just 21 years after Jesus’ death. The reference is not as definitely historical as is that of Tacitus, but it is typical of how knowledge of a particular religious or movement leader would build up, bit by bit, among secular sources.

I am sure Ehrman must mention Tacitus and Suetonius in his book, because they provide such independent corroboration for his thesis. But why make it appear in his teaser article that there are no such sources? If you wanted to mislead the mass of unbelievers, you could scarcely do better than neglect to tell them about Tacitus and Suetonius. But then—that’s probably why 5000+ comments ensued, emboldened to attack by such a weak presentation.  And maybe many comments were what he was after; it could be.

The end result, however, has to be counterproductive. People informed as to the sources will be disinclined to buy Ehrman’s book, since he does such a terrible job of presenting them. And people who already believe that Jesus was mythical aren’t about to let such a wishy-washy apostate as Ehrman try to convince them otherwise.

[4] Posted by A. S. Haley on 4-28-2012 at 02:34 PM · [top]

Ehrman needs to be controversial to remain employed. He has promoted himself very well. He has very little to add to scholarship.

[5] Posted by Pb on 4-28-2012 at 03:33 PM · [top]

My favorite commenter is the one who says that if there’s no evidence for a thing ( or nothing recognized as evidence, to be more accurate), then a thing could not exist.

comment here:

Good thing Newton, or Pasteur, or any scientist since the invention of invention, didn’t think that way. A shame that logic got swapped for feelings in contemporary education.

[6] Posted by paradoxymoron on 4-28-2012 at 06:06 PM · [top]

So there weren’t any atoms before someone saw an atom?

Ain’t no chickens, ain’t no eggs…

[7] Posted by Jeffersonian on 4-28-2012 at 08:40 PM · [top]

The lack of Roman contemporary writings has not even slowed the impossible quest for the historical Jesus. Every Holy Week the cable channels are full of the Jesus Seminar folks promoting Jesus the rebel. We learn that the movement was a rebellion against Roman rule and the story was later rewritten. It is easier to conform this Jesus to your liking than to deny his existence.

[8] Posted by Pb on 4-29-2012 at 11:27 AM · [top]

Yep, dig for the historical Jesus to justify a political agenda.  If you run into a Jesus who is inconvenient to your agenda, simply declare him a myth!  The ultimate in sour grapes.

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life… as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.  (2 Corinthians 2:15-17 ESV)

[9] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 4-29-2012 at 01:41 PM · [top]

How do you avoid Lewis’ liar, lunatic or Lord dilemma?  Fix on the only other plausible option (one interestingly left out by Lewis, who was surely aware of it): Jesus as fictional, or better yet - since it allows the cafeteria atheist to keep the parts of Christianity that he likes - a quasi-fictional character.  If a first-rate intellect like Nietzsche’s (Der Antichrist) can find the temptation irresistible (it’s worth noting, as David Bentley Hart points out, that Nietzsche at least had the decency to dislike Christianity for what it actually is), why should we be in the least surprised that lesser lights do likewise?

[10] Posted by Daniel Muth on 4-30-2012 at 07:33 AM · [top]

A recent reading contained the question “Can a demon open the eyes of the blind.? It struck me that this might apply to NT scholarship. Something like believing in order to understand.

[11] Posted by Pb on 4-30-2012 at 11:59 AM · [top]

Paul did NOT write about Jesus and knew nothing about him. The brother (James) was was also the name of the brother of Jesus of Damneus (the High Priest that Josephus writes about). Strange coincidence? or post-added?

It would take up too much space to cite all of the mentions of Jesus in Paul’s letters, so I’ll just go with the first verse of his (possibly) earliest letter Galatians 1:1 and throw in 2 Timothy 4:1 from the conclusion of his (possibly) last letter. That would seem to refute the commenter’s ALLCAPS assertion pretty thoroughly.

Unless, of course, the phrase “post-added” indicates that the commenter subscribes to the totally objective and completely scientific school of biblical criticism in which the Bible is a completely accurate historical record except that everything the reader disagrees with is clearly a later addition.

[12] Posted by Ecclesiastes 1:18 on 4-30-2012 at 04:00 PM · [top]

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