Critical Review of Bart Ehrman.

The link is a review of Bart Ehrman’s most recent book, How Jesus Became God.  The reviewer, a New Testament scholar like Ehrman, correctly summarizes Ehrman’s case.  That is Jesus, a relatively unimportant itinerate Jewish preacher, became a god after his death.  It happened when two or three of his fans reported they saw him, possibly in visions or dreams.

The reviewer makes the accusation several times the Ehrman’s approach to this history of Jesus is polemic.  That is, it is not scholarly in the traditional sense but argumentative and challenging.

No one knows for certain the events around Jesus.  Take Erhman’s claim that Roman Jews knew of other gods.  That is reported in the Ten Commandments.  But, the reviewer’s “fact” is Roman Jews were not allowed to worship but one god.  He concludes Roman Jews could not consider the existence of any other god.

Then there is Ehrman’s historical evidence it is very unlikely the body of Jesus was turned over to his followers. This was based on non Biblical documents.  The reviewer brings up Jewish law to argue against Ehrman.  That, even though Jews were not in charge, Romans were.

To me, the reviewer is every bit as polemic as Ehrman–a case of the pot calling the kettle black.  In fact, everyone who studies the Bible or talks about it, believer or not, is polemic.

There is no way to talk about tiny bits of information dripping with emotion and political overtones without being at least a bit polemic.

http://www.christiancentury.org/reviews/2014-07/lord-and-god

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About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. There is more about me at Wikipedia.com.
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5 Responses to Critical Review of Bart Ehrman.

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    Every oozing deserves a dripping. Political- – - or not.

  2. Tyndale says:

    “No one knows for certain the events around Jesus. Take Erhman’s claim that Roman Jews knew of other gods. That is reported in the Ten Commandments. But, the reviewer’s “fact” is Roman Jews were not allowed to worship but one god. He concludes Roman Jews could not consider the existence of any other god.”

    Here is what is actually said:

    “An example of oversimplifying: in the first chapter Ehrman rightly notes that the Roman world was full of gods and deified humans (especially deified rulers), and he suggests that this phenomenon helps explain the emergence of beliefs about Jesus as divine. But he fails to indicate that for Roman-era Jews the plurality of deities and demigods and the practice of deifying rulers were repellent, even blasphemous. More of an explanation is needed as to how the multiplicity of deities in the Roman environment could have been a relevant and facilitating factor for considering Jesus divine in the circles of devout Jews among whom (as Ehrman readily grants) the divinity of Jesus was first asserted.”

    “Then there is Ehrman’s historical evidence it is very unlikely the body of Jesus was turned over to his followers. This was based on non Biblical documents. The reviewer brings up Jewish law to argue against Ehrman. That, even though Jews were not in charge, Romans were.”

    Even Roman law allowed bodies to be released to relatives. See “The Pandects of Justinian,” Book 48.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      Tyndale 3:07 Even Roman law allowed bodies to be released to relatives.

      But, Roman law did not require it. Ehrman spent a lot of time looking at non Biblical documents about Pontius Pilate. He came away with a different conclusion than did the anonymous authors of the Bible. In the Bible, Pilate becomes more and more a well meaning and wise figure in the writing that took place further from the execution time. Pilate was portrayed better as time went on, the Jews worse.

      In surviving records Pilate was a ruthless “off-with-their-heads” ruler. He was sent by Rome to collect money and keep enough order that the money kept flowing to Rome. His execution numbers are huge. Killing dissidents and leaving them hang there on crosses for the populace to see was a political strategy. When an unimportant preacher was rung up for trying to compete in politics, was that someone Pilate would say, “Gosh, I should violate my practice of taking the body down right away and giving it to the very people who are causing me problems.”?

      I suppose stranger things have happened. It just doesn’t add up from what records we have. But, no one was there who recorded what happened.

      • entech says:

        I don’t have my notes with me but I seem to recall that Pontius (Pilate was his title) was recalled for excessive actions. I suppose we could believe, if we really wanted to that he was so swayed by this man that he broke the habits of a lifetime, if we really had a desperate need to believe it. Given this it is strange that he did not himself convert ???

  3. QuietOne says:

    Jon: “The reviewer makes the accusation several times the Ehrman’s approach to this history of Jesus is polemic. That is, it is not scholarly in the traditional sense but argumentative and challenging.”

    It is interesting to read about Bart Ehrman. He became an agnostic when unable to make sense of the philosophical problems of evil & suffering. His life has been scholarly, but he found the evidence to be weak and flawed. It could be that none of us are meant to be exempt from suffering. There are too many innocent victims and untimely tragedies, for sure.

    https://bible.org/article/did-original-new-testament-manuscripts-still-exist-second-century

    The above link says the likelihood of original letters lasting several decades at the most suggests they were repeatedly examined and copied by interested parties struggling for their faith in a hostile environment. It leaves one wondering what was lost.

    Humanity seeks to gain knowledge and to understand. …and it’s not easy to have a childlike faith in something. For whom and what can you really trust? We learn to debate…to be argumentative and challenging. For many, too much so. The scholarly discussions on this site are much appreciated!

    It seems that one certainty is…there are too many situations of mishandling by humans.

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