Mormon Stories Podcast is honored to sit down with Dr. Bart Ehrman for a power-hour discussion covering the following topics:

  1. Did the historical figure we know as Jesus actually exist?
  2. How did the historical figure Jesus come to be viewed as divine/the Son of God?
  3. Who wrote the New Testament? (hint: it wasn’t Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc.)
  4. Do important contradictions exist between the four gospels of the New Testament, and what does that tell us?
  5. How was the New Testament assembled and changed over time?
  6. How/why did Dr. Bart Ehrman change from believing the Holy Bible to be the inerrant word of God, to an agnostic?
  7.  What are Dr. Ehrman’s thoughts on the historicity of the Book of Mormon?

As an expert on the New Testament and the history of Early Christianity, Dr. Ehrman has written or edited thirty books, numerous scholarly articles, and dozens of book reviews. Five of his books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list: Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem; Jesus Interrupted; Forged; and How Jesus Became God.  A comprehensive list of Dr. Ehrman’s works may be found here.



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  1. G. Kallen April 13, 2018 at 7:02 pm - Reply

    Thanks, John, for interviewing Professor Ehrman. A few years ago I checked out “Misquoting Jesus” from our local public library and really enjoyed it. During the chilly winter months, I purchase college lectures on DVD from the “Great Courses”. I enjoy religion courses especially and I have gone through Dr. Ehrman’s course on the New Testament and one on how Jesus became God, and am currently going through “The Making of the New Testament Canon”, and hope, the coming winter to take the newest one, a big one on the growth of Christianity. I recommend all ex-Mormons and investigating ones to read all you can find written by this man. After going through just a few books and the manuscripts of these Great Courses lectures, you will know more about Christianity and the Bible than most country preachers, as well as big city ones.

    I have discarded nearly all my Mormon-explanations of history. Now that I know without a doubt that Jesus is not divine, that knowledge in itself destroys the truthfulness of Mormonism. Thanks, John and Dr. Ehrman.

    • Chris B April 14, 2018 at 10:44 pm - Reply

      Thank You so much for this wonderful and very important podcast for the Mormon community. Dr. Ehrman is so engaging, unpretentious and respectful of others beliefs with his wealth of knowledge and experience. I really appreciate his candid, unbiased scholarly tone, letting the truth chips of history fall where they may. The LDS Church desperately needs to produce more scholars of the type of which are Dr. Bart Ehrman! Only regret not being able to have enjoyed him longer . John, I’m begging, please keep doing what you do!
      Thank You Dr. Bart Ehrman and Dr. John Dehlin!

  2. phil April 15, 2018 at 1:10 pm - Reply

    After listening to this podcast I purchased one of Dr. Erhmans books on audible. Great stuff, I plan on purchasing all of his works!

  3. Dwayne April 16, 2018 at 2:50 am - Reply

    John, I belong to the Ehrman blog. In January, he asked the bloggers for suggestions and recommendations on podcasts. I wrote the following: January 13, 2018.
    A podcast that may be helpful is The podcast is hosted by John Dehlin. John made national news when he was excommunicated from the Mormon church, primarily for this podcast which seeks answers to early Mormon history and the obvious conflicts that have arisen from recent scholarship in archeology, anthropology, and written testimony that was scarcely available before the internet. The other thorny issue that contributed to his expulsion from the church was his support of gay marriage.

    John has a PHD in Psychology. In his younger years, he served a 2-year mission in Guatemala. He seems to have a very diverse audience consisting of Mormons, Ex-Mormons, and others interested in Christianity, Mormon history, and social issues. While I don’t have access to concise numbers, on many occasions he has mentioned that the podcast has been viewed by millions of people since its inception in 2005 or 2006. If someone from the publishing office does contact him, they’ll find a kind, considerate, intelligent, level-headed guy.

    If this, in some small way, contributed to bringing this podcast to life, I’m glad to have helped. As a non-practicing Mormon Christian, I would venture to say that 50% of my comments on the blog somewhat butt heads with Dr. Ehrman. My comments on this podcast (very few) probably average about the same. That’s the way it should be. Freedom of honest and intellectual commentaries is something I would love to see enhanced on your podcast.

  4. Michael Webb April 16, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I challenge John to have a scholar with opposing views, like Darrell Bock or Daniel Wallace on the podcastadt; but I won’t hold my breath.

    • John Dehlin April 16, 2018 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      I would be happy to bring on an opposing view, Michael. You clearly don’t listen to Mormon Stories much. I bring on opposing views ALL THE TIME (when they’re willing to come on, that is).

      • Cameron Davis April 18, 2018 at 1:48 pm - Reply

        Hi John,

        I’d be happy to recommend some scholars who I think would be interesting and engaging, in addition to offering a different perspective. I do think it is worth noting, though, that even Ehrman admits that his scholarship (particularly concerning textual variants) does not undermine essential Christian tenets. Whether they will agree to come onto the program is a different matter. That said, here are my recommendations:

        Daniel B. Wallace
        Michael J. Kruger
        E.P. Sanders
        NT Wright
        Richard Bauckham
        James D.G. Dunn
        Ched Myers
        John P. Meier
        Dale Allison
        Richard Hays

        I would also love to see you engage with someone like Leah Libresco, the atheist blogger who became Catholic back in 2013.

        • Nancy Voss January 31, 2020 at 6:28 pm - Reply

          There are many brilliant scholars in the LDS church. Hugh Nibley, Truman Madsen and I could go on and on.
          What Bart has done for me is increase my testimony that the church of Jesus Christ and His doctrines HAD to be RESTORED. I won’t be surprised when Bart embraces this truth. He will be another great addition to our learned and inspired teachers.

    • Peter Koteles April 18, 2018 at 5:40 pm - Reply

      I agree wholeheartedly. in Wallace’s words, There is an embarassing wealth of evidence in support of the reliability of the New Testament manuscripts, and none of the variants call into question any of the core tenets of the Orthodox Christian faith (Dr. Ehrman’s words, not Wallace’s’ or mine).

  5. Rico April 16, 2018 at 3:37 pm - Reply

    Thank you John for having Dr. Ehrman as your guest in this interesting episode. In the 19th century, the latest fad was to promote the idea that Jesus was a myth, just as Horus, Mithra, or Dionysus were myths. For those ex-Mormons who ended up believing that 19th century theory after rejecting Mormonism, this should be an eye-opener. Dr. Ehrman treats Jesus as a historical figure, someone who actually lived in the ancient past.

    That’s not something one can say about Horus, Mithra, or Dionysus. Or for Nephi, Laman, and Mormon. These are all mythical persons. Jesus is definitely not.

    In 2005, the New Testament scholar Gary Habermas published a survey of the literature on the studies regarding the Resurrection of Jesus. This survey tracked all the research he could find for the last 30 years starting in 1975 from German, French, and English specialists.

    I would presume Dr. Ehrman’s writings were included in the more than 1,400 articles that Habermas found. So what did the majority of those scholars say in that survey? THE RESURRECTION IS AN INDISPUTABLE FACT OF HISTORY.

    And the Resurrection is the pillar of Christianity. As Paul said to the Corinthians, if the Resurrection did not happen, then their faith (in Jesus) is useless. The Resurrection event preceded the Church and the Christian movement. Christianity did not invent it. The Resurrection happened first. Then it was followed by the preaching of the apostles to the world. And then once Christianity has spread did the idea of writing down about the Resurrection came much later.

    Dr. Ehrman may wish to believe that because there are so many inconsistencies in the NT accounts of Jesus, that the inevitable conclusion is that there is nothing in there that we can rely on. Why believe something as incredible as the Resurrection if the sources don’t agree with each other?

    But if the sources are so bad and unreliable, how did scholars abandon the “Jesus is a myth” theory that was all the rage not so long ago? Perhaps the NT accounts are not so unreliable after all.

    Fortunately, his view belongs to those of a small minority of scholars in that field. Unlike him, the majority too have looked at the inconsistencies, yet somehow they can conclude that the Resurrection is a historical fact.

    Is it because they are Christian believers with an agenda? No, not at all. Habermas’ survey include authors who are Jewish and agnostics like Dr. Ehrman who have no reason to be Christians. Different scholars approach the question using different research methods and tools. It is reasonable to expect that not everyone will reach the same conclusion.

    Pinchas Lapide, a Jewish theologian and historian, believes the Resurrection of Jesus is a fact.

    I do not fault Dr. Ehrman for holding the minority view. That is where his search for the truth led him.

    But for those who will cling to his views, when the trend of current scholarship as of 2005 is to abandon the “the Resurrection is a myth” theory, it will be the equivalent of holding on to the 19th century “Jesus is a myth” theory.

    It will be an empty bag.

    • Jon April 17, 2018 at 5:54 pm - Reply

      I just read your Gary Habermas site. Nowhere does it say that “The Resurrection is an indisputable fact of history.” What everyone says is that the apostles believed in the resurrection. Maybe you ought to read it. I believe – and hundreds of millions of people believe – in ghosts. My “belief” that ghosts exist means nothing more than I believe it. Dr. Ehrman holds the majority view that people “believed” in something. A resurrection story is just another genus of ghost story. If all that was believed was a fact, then belief = fact. People had encounters with Zeus and many other gods and UFOs. Without investigation and confirmation, beliefs mean nothing.

      • Rico April 18, 2018 at 9:19 am - Reply

        It’s in the “Conclusion”…

        “Most crucially, current scholarship generally recognizes that Jesus’ early followers claimed to have had visual experiences that they at least thought were appearances of their risen Master. Fuller’s comment may be recalled that, as “one of the indisputable facts of history,” both believers as well as unbelievers can accept “[t]hat these experiences did occur.”[95] Continuing, Wright asks: “How, as historians, are we to describe this event . . . History therefore spotlights the question: what happened?”[96]

        The majority of scholars who have done research have that as their conclusion. Of course, that doesn’t sit well with those who wish that the Resurrection never happened at all. The only question left is “What happened?” and not “Did it really happen?” Historical evidence as evaluated by the best scholars out there have already answered the second question.

        • Lilli June 11, 2018 at 2:21 pm - Reply

          As much as I would like the resurrection to be true, after seeing how easily so many people are sure that Joseph really say God and Christ I have to wonder if the same thing happened in Christ’s day.

          Bottom line is, a reasonable God or Christ would want us to base our beliefs on facts, personal experience and proof and they would not expect or want anyone to just believe the testimony of others, no matter how many believe something.

          If Jesus wanted us to know what he said or did 2000 years ago he would have wrote it all down himself or had a scribe at his side and would have made numerous copies etc, at least something more sure than the way the Gospels came to be.

    • Phil April 25, 2018 at 4:29 am - Reply

      Exactly, how could Christianity not have resurrection. The Greeks and Romans had Attis whose resurrection was celebrated annually on March 25th. Likewise the god Adonis suffered a cruel death, descended to hell, rose again and ascended to heaven. Shrines to Adonis were common in Bethlehem. The Egyptians had the resurrection cult of Osiris as document by Herodotus no less.

      It’s a matter of keeping up with the Jones’s next door.

  6. Peter April 17, 2018 at 6:23 am - Reply

    It’s so timely to run across Bart Ehrman on Mormon Stories!

    This past year, my wife and I were accidentally introduced to gospel scholar Brant Pitre’s book “The Case for Jesus” (NOT to be confused with the ’90s book by Lee Strobel titled “The Case for Christ”). In the book, Pitre discussed his faith crisis while working on his doctorate in the New Testament scripture led him to agnosticism and to the brink of atheism. The book walks through arguments for and against Jesus claiming to be God/divine, the reliability/historicity of the gospels, gospel authorship, etc. It opened our eyes to scripture scholarship that my wife and I never had a clue existed.

    Anyway, in the book, Pitre discussed various scholars that influenced him during his academic studies, including Bart Ehrman. Pitre said that the further he went into his studies, he was increasingly concerned that Ehrman’s approach was anachronistic (viewing everything through a 20th century lens instead of an ancient Jew’s contemporary perspective) and relyed too much on “pop” theories rather than evidence-based scholarship.

    It’d be interesting if Brant Pitre was also on Mormon Stories to discuss his approach to evidence-based scholarship (NOT to battle Ehrman beliefs!). Here’s a 90-minute lecture that I’ve seen where Pitre gives a high-level overview of a single chapter from his book explaining how the the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) actually do identify Jesus as God in a number of places. In the lecture, Pitre doesn’t argue that Jesus is divine, just that Matthew, Mark, and Luke do present Jesus as being divine (personally, I think it’s a nice overview, but I think his book has a more robust discussion of the facts — so this is just a flavor of Pitre’s approach). One of the more engaging academic conversations that I’ve heard recently!

    • Peter April 17, 2018 at 10:07 am - Reply

      Been thinking a lot about this episode, very engaging! I don’t want my last post to sound as if I was smearing Dr. Ehrman, I know that he’s a legit scholar! It’s just that the mixture of ideas intrigues me!

      For example, Bart Ehrman said that he thought all four gospels were written anonymously. I’m curious about where that position comes from. My understanding is that all off the earliest versions/copies of each gospel are all attributed to the specific author we refer to today (although there are slight variations for how each title is written, especially with later manuscripts). No anonymous manuscripts exist.

      Plus, as copies of the gospels have been uncovered from all over Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East it seems almost impossible that all of these independent Christian communities randomly decided to add a title that connects their version/copy with the same obscure Biblical character (for example, why say that your gospel was written by Mark or Luke when it would be more “impressive” to say it was written by Peter or Paul?). Since the early Christian manuscripts from all over the world consistently identify the Biblical author despite being thousands of miles apart from each other, I would think that this would strongly suggest that the gospels have a single source and were never written anonymously.

      With the consistent authorship claims and the fact that none of the earliest manuscripts were anonymous, it seems strange that there is a claim that all four gospels were written anonymously. I’ll need to track down a copy of Ehrman’s books and better understand what I’m missing. Here’s what I’m talking about:

      Gospel Title (Greek manuscript where gospel was written) Estimated Date Range

      Gospel according to Matthew (Papyrus 4) 2nd century
      Gospel according to Matthew (Papyrus 62) 2nd century
      According to Matthew (Codex Sinaiticus) 4th century
      According to Matthew (Codex Vaticanus) 4th century
      Gospel according to Matthew (Codex Washingtonianus) 4th-5th century
      Gospel according to Matthew (Codex Alexandrinus) 5th century
      Gospel according to Matthew (Codex Ephraemi) 5th century
      Gospel according to Matthew (Codex Bezae) 5th century

      According to Mark (Codex Sinaiticus) 4th century
      According to Mark (Codex Vaticanus) 4th century
      Gospel according to Mark (Codex Washingtonianus) 4th-5th century
      Gospel according to Mark (Codex Alexandrinus) 5th century
      Gospel according to Mark (Codex Ephraemi) 5th century
      Gospel according to Mark (Codex Bezae) 5th century

      Gospel according to Luke (Papyrus 75) 2nd-3rd century
      According to Luke (Codex Sinaiticus 4th century)
      According to Luke (Codex Vaticanus) 4th century
      Gospel according to Luke (Codex Washingtonianus) 4th-5th century
      Gospel according to Luke (Codex Alexandrinus) 5th century
      Gospel according to Luke (Codex Bezae) 5th century

      Gospel according to John (Papyrus 66) late 2nd century
      Gospel according to John (Papyrus 75) 2nd-3rd century
      According to John (Codex Sinaiticus) 4th century
      According to John (Codex Vaticanus) 4th century
      According to John (Codex Washingtonianus) 4th-5th century
      Gospel according to John (Codex Alexandrinus) 5th century
      Gospel according to John (Codex Bezae) 5th century

  7. Isaac April 17, 2018 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    While I never finished my PhD in biblical studies I do have graduate training in the subject area, and during my time in the academy I learned that the level of popularity that is enjoyed by scholars such as Bart Ehrman and NT Wright gives a false sense of how their scholarly works have been accepted and circulated among the biblical scholarship community. Ehrman’s popularity is due less to how masterful and insightful is scholarship is than it is to the fortuitous timing of his major publications, some of which happened to debut during the Da Vinci Code phenomenon.

    I am not claiming that Ehrman is a poor New Testament scholar; he has done reputable work. Rather, I think it is important for people to understand that he isn’t a conclusive or authoritative voice on the New Testament and he has received importsnt criticisms from both those who take an even more skeptical view, like Richard Carrier, and those who take a more faithful view, like James D.G. Dunn and Ched Myers.

    I guess the TL;DR version of what I would like to convey is that reading a book or two by Bart Ehrman doesn’t make you an expert on contemporary biblical scholarship, and it is good to survey a wider scope of contemporary biblical scholarship.

  8. G. Kallen April 17, 2018 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    If you read “Misquoting Jesus”, you can surely see how misinterpretations, mistakes, and intentional changes had to have crept into translations of the thousands of Bible manuscripts. Unless students of scripture will say that God, somehow, inspired all of the mistakes, since those thousands of manuscripts do not agree. And since we have no original manuscripts of those New Testament manuscripts, there is absolutely no way that we can be certain that those writings said what we think they say today. And Dr. Ehrman is not the only scholar who understands the history of the New Testament and Jesus. There are many who have researched the names added to the books called the Gospels. And they know, for example, that only some of the books attributed to Paul, were actually written by him. And why are the Gospels of Thomas, Judas, Mary Magdalene, to name a few not included in the New Testament? Who determined which books went into the canon?

    Jesus probably existed, though not by Carrier’s notions, but he was definitelynot a divine . Even most of our Founding Fathers of this country did not think of Jesus as divine. And good Mormons even think of the Constitution that many of them signed is inspired by God. Jefferson admitted that he was a Christian but said he did not believe Jesus to be divine. The same with Washington, Franklyn, Madison, and Monroe among others. But their sources were limited when compared with those of the Biblical scholars of today.

    And why should the Bible be any more inspired than the Qu’ran? Muslims consider Jesus to be a great teacher and prophet but not divine. And of course the Jews did not believe he was the Messiah because he did not have the characteristics of a messiah that was foretold in the Old Testament. And it is easy to see that writers of the NT wrote their manuscripts to give the idea that Old Testament scripture foretold Jesus when it did not. When researching Biblical history and Jesus we need to have some humility, realizing that scholars who have spent their lives researching may have some good ideas. Dr. Ehrman along with many other enlightened researches should be listened to. Dan Barker, President of The Freedom From Religion Foundation, is another good source. But “Misquoting Jesus”, if one uses reasoning, makes the best point.

    • Rico April 18, 2018 at 11:22 am - Reply

      G. Kallen,

      Dan Barker is a not a New Testament scholar. He has not done research in that specialized field and published them for critical review by other NT scholars. He was formally trained to be a Christian pastor and ordained to the ministry. He has a talent for music from which he still earns royalties. His music is published by Manna Music, a Christian publisher. Barker became atheist and is now a firm believer in the “Jesus is myth” superstition of the 19th century.

      Is the Bible more reliable than the Quran? YES, BY LEAPS AND BOUNDS. How? Because the Resurrection is a historical event. Mohammed cannot resurrect himself. Jesus did.

  9. Dwayne April 17, 2018 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    I would encourage anyone who reads my comment to google a bit and discover for themselves who the top NT scholars are. Dr. Ehrman has many, many NT scholars who belong to his blog and I’ve had the opportunity to interact with many of them. He chairs the Religious Studies Dept. at North Carolina, which consistently ranks as one of the top programs in the country. His college textbooks are used at Yale University and a gazillion other schools around the nation. He is widely recognized as one of the top authorities of NT history in America. True scholars such as Daniel Wallace (mentioned above) has called him, “one of North America’s leading textual critics” and “one of the most brilliant and creative textual critics I have ever known.” N.T. Wright is a genius. Oft times, his peers have referred to him as the #1 NT scholar in the world. The two of them probably agree on about 85% of NT issues but it’s that other 15% (major issues) that has led each of them to vastly different conclusions. Independently, they are responsible for translating volumes of ancient Greek texts into modern English.

    Richard Carrier is a common Mythicist. He is *not* an NT scholar. His degrees are in ancient history, not NT history. I know of no reputable publication ever asking him to review the works of someone like Ehrman or Wright, although he consistently self-reviews their works and posts them on his blog. Of the thousands of NT scholars in America and Western Europe, he has exactly one supporter, fellow Mythicist, Robert Price.

    • Isaac April 18, 2018 at 10:51 am - Reply

      The issue is that a simple google search isn’t a window into the actual field of New Testament scholarship. Anyone can make a blog and offer their opinions regarding who are or are not the best scholars out there.

      UNC-Chapel Hill is consistently ranked among the best religious studies programs in the country, but that is a broad category. If one is considering the best programs for New Testament scholarship, specifically, one should instead consider programs like Yale, Duke, Notre Dame, Emory, U Chicago, and Princeton Theological Seminary where Ehrman himself attended.

  10. Danny April 18, 2018 at 9:07 am - Reply

    This is a wonderful topic and should be explored more. Most Christians do not understand the purpose of the writings contained in the New Testament, and even some in the Old Testament. The culture of the United States accepts the Bible without any doubt and people questioning it are ridiculed. In the LDS church, we are so focused on the truthfulness of the church and BofM, the facts and criticisms of the Bible are never examined in debt. Understanding who the early Christians really were and their agendas are critical to all Christians. While attending a Jesuit University in Denver and forced into religious classes, this is where I lost belief in the LDS church and Christianity because of the issues with the Bible. While there, the Jesuit scholar acted like it was common knowledge that the Gospels were either written by the same person, or copied or no one knows for sure, but the names on the books are not the authors. The books in the Bible are as credible as the gnostic writings. The “Q” source is never talked about and all the Gnostic writings and their relevance to Christianity. This topic is threatening to Christians, but just like the LDS historical problems, the issues with the Bible should be known. If MS continues to interview Biblical scholars, stories of angels, miracles from the early LDS church become ridiculous.

    • Peter April 20, 2018 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      I think it depends what you’re reading when it comes to discussion about the “Q source” that may or may not have contributed to the content in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Most “casual” Catholic and Protestant Bible studies won’t discuss “Q source,” but I would expect every commentary, text book, journal, and “Intro to the New Testament” to discuss the “Q source” theory. In my experience “Q source” theory is probably too prevalent in academic and non-academic circles as I often see it treated as fact when it’s just one of many popular theories about source data used when writing the Gospels of Matthew and Mark (albeit the most popular current theory). “Q source” theory is a good theory and should be discussed and dissected, but it isn’t a perfect theory. It kind of reminds me of when Belgian priest Fr. Georges Lemaitre first proposed the formulation of what is now known as the Big Bang Theory. Fr. Lemaitre was onto something, but his theory continues to be developed and finessed and will never be “complete” even though it was one of the landmark “discoveries” of the last century. “Q source” theory is onto something but is far from being a “complete” answer.

      I know that this is a comments section and not an academic discussion, but we need to be careful with phrases like “The books in the Bible are as credible as the gnostic writings.” I don’t mean to pick apart your phrases (and I apologize if it comes off like that! I wouldn’t want anyone to do that my my casually written comments either!), but the gnostic gospels aren’t generally viewed “as credible” for various reasons (generally speaking) such as how much later they were written than the four Biblical gospels, how they do not appear to have received such wide-spread adoption into the first Christian’s liturgical Masses, and that some of their theology doesn’t mesh as well with other more widely-accepted Christian texts. Of course, there are many other Christians texts from the first century (dating according to many scholars, but not all) like the Didache (my favorite!) and the letters/epistles of Clement (one of the first bishops of Rome) and Ignatius (one of the first bishops of Antioch in Syria). Now, I’m not trying to argue how credible the four gospels are in this comment, but that they can generally be viewed as more reliable than gnostic writings.

      • Danny April 21, 2018 at 9:42 pm - Reply

        Peter- You are correct, the books in the New Testament have more credibility than the gnostic writings. However, where does that credibility come from? Christians, Bible scholars, or just culture? The books should still be criticized as it is apparent the authors are unknown, just like the gnostic writings. It was common form early Christians to write, then attach a name to a book to give it credibility. Of course, that didn’t always work. To further my point, the timing of when the books are written is not relevant, all the books from what we know are written by unknown authors, therefore, the content should be examined carefully. This alone creates the credibility problem. To tie this back to Christianity, and even Mormonism, growing up in the LDS church, pounding on doors for two years and learning about other Christain religions, the New Testament is the furthest thing from what I was taught, and what most mainstream Christians believe. Also, please feel free to criticize my post, I am on the path for truth, not just acceptance.

        • Rico April 23, 2018 at 1:11 pm - Reply


          You asked: “where does that credibility come from? Christians, Bible scholars, or just culture?” The straight answer is “The Catholic Church”.

          As a former adherent of Manichaenism, St . Augustine refuted the logical errors of the Manicheans with several arguments. One of his more famous argument is this:

          “…For my part, I should not believe the gospel except as moved by the authority of the Catholic Church. So when those on whose authority I have consented to believe in the gospel tell me not to believe in Manichæus, how can I but consent? Take your choice. If you say, Believe the Catholics: their advice to me is to put no faith in you; so that, believing them, I am precluded from believing you — If you say, Do not believe the Catholics: you cannot fairly use the gospel in bringing me to faith in Manichæus; for it was at the command of the Catholics that I believed the gospel…”

          (“Against the Fundamental Epistle of Manichaeus”, Chap. 5 – Against the Title of the Epistle of Manichaeus”.

          Just as the Mormons today claim Joseph Smith is a prophet of Jesus, so did the Manicheans claim that Manichaeus or Mani was an apostle of Jesus. But the refutation is the same. It’s as ancient as St. Augustine or the other Church Fathers who battled heresies in their day. Don’t believe Joseph Smith and his writings because the Catholic Church says he is a false prophet.

          The same mechanism that rejects the gnostic Christian writings and their authors as worthless is the same mechanism that assures the canonical Christian writings and their authors are trustworthy. The New Testament is not self-evidential. Many of the things Jesus said and did there are not self-evidently true. Therefore, the credibility of the New Testament rests on the authority and witness of the Catholic Church.

          After all, the Catholic Church did not come from the New Testament, unlike the many “Bible-based” religions that pervade the American landscape. The New Testament came from the Catholic Church.

  11. Norm April 19, 2018 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Having Bart Ehrman on appears to have really struck a nerve with some people. I count eight Ehrman books in my library, among several hundred volumes on the both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. I believe Ehrman is an important voice– a careful, engaging scholar, one voice among many competent writers. Having publically declared his disbelief, however, he is a lighting rod for people who believe “The Resurrection is an indisputable fact of history.” I personally believe such people lack much expertise on how the human brain actually works and what might have led them to such a belief (not an “indisputable fact.”) I commend John for having Ehrman on. And he might entertain also having an opposing view, which he has often done. But, reading some of the “scholars” cited above reminds of their Mormon equivalents– like Daniel Peterson or Louis Midgley– I believe they have their own publications.

    • Rico April 20, 2018 at 11:49 am - Reply

      Is the Resurrection an indisputable fact?

      In 2006, Dr. Ehrman had the opportunity to answer the question “Is there historical evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus?” This was in a public debate held at the College of the Holy Cross in Massachusetts with Dr. William Lane Craig.

      The debate started with Dr. Craig presenting four historical facts in the NT narratives on Jesus. If you’re interested to know what those four historical facts are, you can watch the debate. It’s out there in Dr. Ehrman’s blog. Or you can read the transcript of the debate here:

      Dr. Craig pointed out that nothing explains those four facts except the Resurrection. Here then were four pieces of evidence laid on the table for Dr. Ehrman to attack, demolish, and refute. Unfortunately, nothing like that ever happened.

      In essence, Dr. Ehrman’s response was 1) the NT accounts are not “good enough” to be historically reliable and 2) miracles are highly improbable.

      Now are the NT accounts not “good enough” to be historically reliable? Well… what do you think? With your several books by Dr. Ehrman, I’m sure the answer is not hard to find.

      Unfortunately, the debate pretty much ended with Dr. Craig’s four facts still standing, barely scratched. I didn’t see a single successful refutation on any of them by Dr. Ehrman. All I saw from him was one big whopper after another.

      I saw him dispute the Resurrection, and I saw him fail. Therefore for me, the Resurrection is indisputable.

  12. G. Kallen April 20, 2018 at 10:43 am - Reply

    I would sort of like to envision Jesus as a non-myth, but there does not seem to be any tangible evidence that he was. Richard Carrier, PhD from Columbia University, says there isn’t. Before you folks get to thinking that Ehrman is out in left field because of all the supposed evidence for the divinity of Jesus, you probably need to spend a few hours on: https;// Or you can just Google Francesca Stavrakopoulou. There are many scholars on this site, including Professor Stavrakopoulou. I heard her on “The Big Questions”, a BBC production online. The British are much more open in discussing religion than we Americans are. Francesca, in my opinion, is the best Biblical scholar out there.

    And if so many scholars seem to believe in the divinity, why did the chief writer of that great document the U.S. Constitution, Thomas Jefferson think of Jesus as a great teacher, but did not believe in his miracles, the virgin birth, or the resurrection? The resurrection of Jesus was NOT an historical event. And why is there no mention of Jesus in the Constitution? And if Christianity is so important, why is our nation not based on it?

    We have no way of knowing whether or not Jesus, if he existed, resurrected himself, because we have no original writings to compare. And even the Muslims say that the Qu’ran was dictated by god. We have no more evidence of Jesus than we do of the angel Gabriel dictating the Qu’ran. You believe in Jesus because you want to, not because of evidence. I think it interesting that there are four different religions that are all based on Abraham but they have different names for their god. Mormons–Elohim (Heavenly Father), Jews–Yahweh, Christians–Jesus, Muslims–Allah.

    I used to believe in Mormonism. Then upon evidence I became a Protestant, then a Messianic, then a Karrite, and am now an atheist. I have been reading many years now on both sides and all religions are based on faith of what someone in history has said.

    And what will be said of Jesus and Christianity when at the turn of the next century, Islam replaces Christianity as the largest religion in the world. And they will unless the Christians are able to kill them all. Or when the “nones” replace Christians in the U,S.? When in doubt regarding Christianity, you can always read Lawrence Krauss or Richard Dawkins, or Sam Harris, but Francesca Stavrakopoulou (Those Greek names are tough to remember.).

    • Peter April 20, 2018 at 4:23 pm - Reply

      The arguments for Jesus being a myth are fascinating to me from a historical perspective. I think that those who view Jesus as a myth approach all ancient documentation with much more skepticism than most historians and scholars (which I guess makes sense since the “Jesus is a myth” theory is more of a fringe view). I’d love to better understand their perspective on other ancient people and groups. Certainly, anything written about any ancient person could be fabricated, but there does have to be a line in the sand where a person needs to make a leap of faith on deciding if “Ancient Person X” is likely to have existed. I guess everyone’s line in the sand is different. How do “Jesus is a myth” believers view other historical figures? How much of history are they confident in?

      Unless I’m mistaken, the academic discussion about Jesus’s divinity is not about whether Jesus was divine. I believe the academic discussion surrounds whether the authors of Matthew, Mark, and Luke present Jesus as being divine and analyze the texts by viewing them through a Jewish and ancient-world lenses. With that perspective, many scholars feel that Matthew, Mark, and Luke present Jesus as being God.

      I may be mistaking sarcasm, but the US Constitution was developed by number of people with a variety of faith backgrounds (many of who were deists) and was heavily influenced by the Enlightenment movement of the 1700s. I’m not aware of an argument regarding the US Constitution’s relationship with Judeo-Christian beliefs. I missed the sarcasm, didn’t I?

      And a quick note about the four names for God. There is a lot more interchangeability with those names than you might realize. I believe that Allah is just the Arabic word for God and that the term for God is used by Christians, Jews, etc., especially Christians and Jews living in Arabic-speaking countries. Yahweh and Elohim are also terms for God used by Jews and Christians. Lastly, at least, Jews and Christians do not use these terms as God’s “official” name. These terms are used to describe their view of God’s wholly unique, non-human and non-created nature/essence.

    • Isaac April 22, 2018 at 10:22 am - Reply

      If one seeks to determine whether or not Jesus existed by looking solely for direct, physical evidence of Jesus himself, then of course one is going to conclude that Jesus never existed, along with 99% of historical figures people learn about in textbooks. This is why scholars like Ehrman look to sequential and surrounding events and evidence to determine the most likely explanations. For example, one might ask how one explains the association that existed among the diverse Christian communities which held different, often conflicting beliefs, if the person Jesus never was.

      As for Carrier’s scholarship itself, it is actually quite spurious and has been criticized for its misapplication of Bayesian methodology to historical questions which fall outside its scope, and for its erroneous readings of myth narratives he claims are similar to the New Testament narratives pertaining to the life of Jesus. There is a reason that over 99% of biblical scholars reject Carrier’s thesis, and it isn’t because they are dismissive or “don’t get it.”

      • RLeeG June 25, 2018 at 4:12 pm - Reply

        Hmmm. While there may be some truth to this, I think the skepticism about Jesus’ existence is not just that there is a lack of evidence, but that the evidence that does exist has an agenda behind it. The writings we rely on for his existence are writings that promote his divinity or are for the purpose of proselytizing. This bias creates an additional skepticism. Also, the manuscripts of his life, as well as references to him, all come after his life, and most of them long after. This also creates some additional curiosity. You can also point to some strange things from the authorships of the gospels in relation to the dependency those accounts seem to have had on Mark’s, as well as the very late appearance of these manuscripts. Then you have the additions made to Mark’s manuscript of the resurrection. Mark himself does not appear to have been familiar with the region even, as he makes geographical errors and some cultural ones as well. He has Jesus misquoting Hebrew scriptures using the greek versions, something a Hebrew would certainly not have done, and mentioning the idea that women who divorce their husbands and remarry create adultery. Women were not permitted to divorce. These obvious errors indicate to most scholars that Mark was gentile, not overly familiar with the jewish customs or even the region, let alone a good eye witness account of anything that occurred.

        I guess to better explain why so many doubt the existence of Christ, can be better summed up by the argument that a Christian author once posed, “I have taken it for granted that Jesus of Nazareth existed. Some writers feel a need to justify this assumption at length against people who try from time to time to deny it. It would be easier, frankly, to believe that Tiberius Caesar, Jesus’ contemporary, was a figment of the imagination than to believe that there never was such a person as Jesus.”
        – N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God

        When such arguments are made and believed by christian scholars, it casts suspicion on the entire work of Christian Scholars. The argument is frankly beyond ridiculous. The evidence for Tiberius is so overwhelmingly large, both from contemporaries DURING his lifetime and from his posterity as well. Not only do we not have evidence during Christ’s lifetime, but he has no known lineage or any other thing we can point to as lasting evidence beyond the stories from those that were growing a religion based on those stories. A favorite source, Josephus, was born after Jesus’ death. Again, no writings exist, no journals, or diaries, or anything that I know of were made during the claimed lifetime of Jesus, and this will always leave some suspicion.

  13. G. Kallen April 21, 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

    But though the Muslims say that Jesus existed but they are unhappy that Christians think he is divine, they believe in one god rather than three. And though Christians like to say that the Old Testament scriptures prophesy the coming of Jesus, the Jews don’t interpret the Hebrew Bible in that way. Why not? And as for the Founding Fathers, had they lived in our time with the availability of much evidence, I think it very likely that they would have either been agnostics or atheists. Christianity, like all Abrahamic religions, use exclusivity for their ideas. “I’m right, so you’re wrong.” And why can’t those religions get along and love one another? They preach it but they don’t practice it.

    But, after so many discussions by so many scholars, Dr. Ehrman’s book, “Misquoting Jesus”, makes the most sense to me. I don’t adhere to the thought that God forced man to write correct manuscripts, and that he allowed for all those errors to be made throughout the centuries of copying so that when we are reading a version today, they are his words; even though all the versions read differently. When I attended a Baptist Sunday School class, I was following along (or trying to) when the minister read from his version, and the guy next to me had another version, and I had the KJV. Is the Christian god inclined to keep humanity so confused with reading varying versions of his supposed holy book, that they can never become interested in finding correctness by evidence and reasoning? There are no original complete versions of the New Testament so of course we can’t compare. That is a bit like Joseph Smith writing about ancient Central American civilizations, when his people never could have used LiDar to find out what was really there. “Keep the populace ignorant”. That is how religions and political and economic systems control populations.

    I also found Dr. Ehrman’s conclusions in “How Jesus Became God”, to make total sense comparing the Synoptic Gospels to the book of John when it came to talking about Jesus. In those first three books Jesus discourages his disciples from thinking that he is god. He tells them to not talk of his miracles but in John he does miracles to prove he is John. So at first he was a teacher of Jewry and later became a god.

    Although there are many good scholarly Biblical works that tell it like it is, Dr. Ehrman’s works are some of the best and I continue to thank John for a good presentation. It is sure great to be free of religious control, after 40 years as a believing Mormon Christian. I finally woke up and began using evidence and reasoning rather than non-scientific feelings!

    • Rico April 23, 2018 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      G. Kallen,

      Muslims shoot themselves in the foot when they reject Jesus as God and yet accept him as an inspired prophet. In Mark’s gospel alone, Jesus is said to “forgive sins” (Mk 2:9-11) and is the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27-28). These statements make no sense unless Jesus himself was revealing his divinity in them. For who else can forgive sins, or who else established the Sabbath except God himself?

      The Muslim counter-argument is that the apostles corrupted the teachings of Jesus, especially Paul. But this reasoning strains credulity. Why should anyone believe the Muslims whose religion appeared several hundred years after Christianity? If the apostles themselves didn’t understand Jesus, what makes Mohammed any better in telling us what Jesus actually taught?
      Therefore, it is self-contradictory to accept Jesus as an inspired prophet, which the Muslims do, and yet reject his claims to divinity.

      As for the Jews and their rejection of Jesus’ messianic claims, you have to study the writings of Paul in the NT. As a former rabid persecutor of the first Jews who accepted Jesus as their Messiah, he had no inclination to join them. But after his miraculous conversion, he understood exactly the blinders that prevented the other Jews from seeing who Jesus really is.

      As for Dr. Ehrman’s claims, his books seem impressive at first look by ordinary people with no formal training in the science of historical research or textual criticism. Their lack of expertise prevents them from spotting Dr. Ehrman’s biases and blinders. But for those who are equipped, his arguments and conclusions leave very little to be desired. Here is Daniel Wallace’s chapter-by-chapter analysis of “Misquoting Jesus” from the perspective of a textual expert on the NT.

      “God is not the God of confusion, but of peace.” (1 Cor 4:33). Paul affirmed that idea to the Christians at Corinth who at that early time have already been wracked by divisions and conflicts. In the pages of the NT, we see how Jesus set up the Church so that it does not collapse from internal strife. We see this mechanism at work in Acts 15 when the Church was faced with the issue of Jewish circumcision.

      The problem nowadays is that many Christians read the NT apart from the mind of the very Church that gave birth to it. Instead, they read their preconceived notions into it, and refuse to be corrected. They reject the very authority that separated the wheat from the chaff, the authentic scriptures from worthless, pseudo- Christian writings. The never-ending confusion that result from this tragic rejection is not hard to see.

      • G. Kallen April 27, 2018 at 8:50 am - Reply

        Regardless of how many experts you throw out there, if I simply use my reasoning, If something was written down anciently and then copied and re-copied hundreds or thousands of times, someone will make a mistake either intentionally or accidentally. And I don’t go for that business about God forcing each copier to make certain mistakes so that eventually when it comes to our day, it will be what the Christian God wanted in the first place. And my reasoning, for me, is as good as any expert who has ever lived. I cannot prove that God didn’t exist, nor can I prove that he (or she or it) did exist. But because of copying, the Bible, whichever version you use, is not a reliable historical source, nor are the works of Josephus or any other ancient writer, or the Book of Mormon.

        • Rico April 27, 2018 at 4:06 pm - Reply

          G. Kallen,

          Textual criticism is a *science.* It is the kind of science used in order to recover and restore ancient texts. Few lay people, especially Mormons AND ex-Mormons, realize that this science actually exists. Yet this is one of the many tools that scholars routinely use to study history and the ancient past. Nobody denies that the ancient texts we have of the NT have corruptions and mistakes in them. But it is the science of textual criticism that makes it possible to restore these ancient texts to their original reading.

          In the US, Dr. Ehrman is the best in this field of study. As he can tell you, in the NT there are about 138,000 Greek words, and less than 2,000 of them have meanings that are uncertain. In other words, you are looking at a body of ancient text for which less than 1% have words that have an uncertain meaning. For the other 99%, we can be sure that what we have in our Bibles is what matches the ancient texts. How did textual experts come up with these numbers? Because they actually counted them. Remember, it is a science, not science fiction.

          So if a textual critic like Dr. Ehrman says that the Greek of the NT text has been 99% restored from various ancient manuscripts, and a layman like you will say that the ancient texts have been corrupted, who should I believe? It’s his word versus yours. He’s an expert in that science, and you’re not. Common sense tells me I have no reason to rely on your word.

          Now let’s turn to the atheist Bible scholar Francesca Stavrakopoulou. She made the claim that in the Genesis story, the “Garden of Eden” was actually the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, that Adam was a “King of Jerusalem” and the Fall of Adam was the destruction of Jerusalem in 597 BC. Nobody knows where she got these ideas. She says that some parts of the Bible have been removed. I don’t know if Dr. Ehrman will agree with her. All I know is that when it comes to the corruption and restoration of the Biblical text, she has ZERO expertise in that field. Dr. Ehrman is the authority there.

          The problem with her claims is that story of the Fall of Adam in Genesis was written during the 10th BC. This was more than 300 years before the Fall of Jerusalem. Again, common sense tells me something is very wrong with her claims.

          There are no good reasons to believe the claims of atheism. Some ten years ago, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Lawrence Krauss, Sean Carroll, etc. have all debated William Lane Craig, and hands-down they all did badly. None of their reasons actually hold up when scrutinized on the stage of a public debate. All of sudden their grand claims look so small. This is why Richard Dawkins refuse until today to face Dr. Craig. Apparently, he doesn’t want to see his silly reasons for atheism exposed.

          So before you go and reject God’s existence, why not examine what the arguments are? Dr. Craig has a website called You’ll see all his debates with atheists there. Then there’s “Strange Notions” ( ). Most atheists these days become atheists for emotional reasons. These two websites are good enough to show why there are good rational arguments for God’s existence.

  14. G. Kallen April 29, 2018 at 11:32 am - Reply

    I am a layperson, but I can use my reasoning to make things make sense to me. I have watched several debates with William Lane Craig, who is a great philosopher. Now since I am not well versed in philosophy, having only taken one college course in it some 55 years ago, and realizing then as now that the study of philosophy seems to be how to say simple things with a lot of confusing words and phrases, I find absolutely no interest in listening to Dr. Craig, again.

    Now when you say that all those thousands of manuscripts matches what we have in our Bibles today, and surely realizing that we do not have one Bible but many different versions saying different things, how can those manuscripts match? There is no original of the many versions of the Bible, unless you talk to the people running the new Bible Museum, but even then you find that there are no real original manuscripts.

    I became an atheist after dropping from the Mormon Church, but I did not become one because of emotions. After dropping Mormonism, I studied the Bible some and thought I would become a Christian, but upon more study especially learning of the Biblical Feasts through Seventh Day Adventist teachings, I began leaning toward Messianism. Made a lot of sense until I read more in the OT. Along the way I read a lot of “The Gnostic Bible”, all of Everett Fox’ “First Five Books of Moses”, “Noah’s Flood”, by two geologists, “The Restored New Testament”, by Dr. Brownstone, “Faiths of the Founding Fathers”, by Dr. Holmes, “The Jefferson Bible”, by Thomas Jefferson. I have a neighbor who evolved from being a Baptist to a Messianic to a Karrite and from him and his Hebrew speaking family, I participated in some of the Feasts and learned of God’s calendar. I went through the power point presentation of “The Hebrew Roots of Christianity” online. And I have gone through most of the BBC show, “The Big Questions”, and have listened to many debates. During the winter months I purchase college courses from “The Great Courses. Of those, I have taken the following: “How Jesus Became God”, by Dr. Ehrman, “Beginnings of Judaism”, by Dr. Gafni, “The Darwinian Revolution”, by Dr. Gregory, “The Old Testament”, by Dr. Amy Levine, “Cultural Literacy For Religion’, by Dr. Berkson, “The New Testament”, by Dr. Ehrman, and “The History of the Bible”, by Dr. Ehrman. You should be able to see that I did not become an atheist for emotional reasons. And I will continue next winter, though I have gone through courses on geology and medicine and law.

    I have no problem with others being Christians or Muslims, or Hindus, etc., like Dawkins and Harris seem to. I just do not think that in this country, religionists, namely the Christian Right should use their influence to push Christianity on me. This country was not founded on the Christian religion and hopefully Christians will not be able to change our laws to make our country a theocracy.

    I am not trying to get you or anyone else to believe as I do. If you want to believe in any one or many of the world’s religions, you are free to do so. As for me I have never seen any proof for the Christian God or the Muslim God, or the many Hindu Gods, or Zeus, or even a teapot orbiting the sun. I cannot prove that any of these do not exist or exist. But I do not need philosophical arguments to convince me of the existence of a deity; rather I will revert to my scientific studies of many years past. I am currently happy to be free of religious entanglements.

    • Rico April 30, 2018 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      G. Kallen,

      I believe you when you say you’re not trying to get anyone to believe as you do. My aim is simply to interact with whatever cards you lay on the table. For example, the claims of Francesca Stavrakopoulou.

      In exchange, I put down my cards so that you too have something to comment and criticize. I hope this remains a cordial interaction. Like you, I have no desire either to convert you or anyone to my way of thinking.

      As far as the GREEK of the NT is concerned, it is not me, but textual critics like Dr. Ehrman who assure us that what we now have is 99% accurate. Here is a book he co-authored with his mentor Dr. Bruce Metzger that explains this textual restoration in detail:

      The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration (4th Edition)

      As you can see, I am not making this claim myself, nor am I just doing so out of thin air. It is a well-documented scientific claim that goes as far back as the 1960s when Dr. Ehrman’s mentor wrote that book. For critics to say otherwise, they’ll have to come up with their own study based on scientific evidence. Mormons of all people love to repeat the claim that we don’t have the original text of the Bible. Therefore, they (falsely) conclude, the Bible is unreliable. Unfortunately, the burden of proof for such leaps of logic is on their court, and science is not on their side.

      When it comes to philosophy, I too am a layman in this area. But learning a few of its fundamentals is never too late. For example, let’s take a look at your statement:

      “As for me I have never seen any proof for the Christian God or the Muslim God, or the many Hindu Gods, or Zeus, or even a teapot orbiting the sun. I cannot prove that any of these do not exist or exist. But I do not need philosophical arguments to convince me of the existence of a deity; rather I will revert to my scientific studies of many years past.”

      Such statement presupposes that the existence or non-existence of God can be determined by science. And yet, have you ever asked yourself in all those years of study: “How do I know that science itself is true? Who tells me that science is true?” Science is a process that works on logic, evidence, and proof. So, can the scientific process prove that its own method and logic is true? If it can, well… how is that supposed to be demonstrated?

      Carl Sagan has been famous for saying that “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.” But is that claim backed with scientific proof? Unfortunately, no one has ever asked Sagan this question in public and pressed him to answer. The awful truth is, it’s not even a scientific claim. Sagan never performed a scientific experiment to prove it. Nor is there a scientific study that has already proven it. It’s a philosophical claim cleverly disguised as a scientific one.

      Such claims are not self-evidential truths. Yet they need to be proven first if we are to believe them. And the lack of proof has never been a serious obstacle for many to believe them. Few believers realize that the proof for these claims lie outside the realm of science. Science does not have the tools for such inquiries. IF something exists outside the physical Cosmos, science cannot determine that. To presume that God’s existence can be determined by science, when science itself cannot prove that science is true, is to grossly misunderstand science. It is to use it to find answers to questions it was never designed to answer.

      So how do we know that the Cosmos is not all there is, contra Sagan? Well, let’s look at another of your statements again: “I just do not think that in this country, religionists, namely the Christian Right should use their influence to push Christianity on me.”

      If that is so, then what is the scientific basis for restricting their actions? Are they violating any scientific law? If so, can science tell us how the Christian Right should behave to others who don’t share their beliefs? Unfortunately, no. Science can’t tell them that any more than it can tell how the Nazis ought to treat the Jewish people in the 1940s. Science cannot tell us what our moral values and obligations are. It cannot tell us how communities of people ought to be governed. It can only describe to us the natural world as it exists or why natural phenomena happens. It cannot tell us how humans ought to treat each other.

      Questions like those are beyond the scope of scientific inquiry. That is why the physical Cosmos is not all there is, no matter how much Sagan repeats such nonsense. To commit yourself to a worldview that claims science alone has the answers to all human inquiry is to commit a serious philosophical error. As serious as how the Germans of the 1940s, for all their scientific and technological brilliance, arrived at the “Final Solution” to the so-called Jewish question.

      • G. Kallen May 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm - Reply

        I just finished listening to yesterday’s Sam Harris podcast where he interviews Bart Ehrman for nearly 2 hours. And Ehrman does not say that 99% of what we now have is accurate. And he is agnostic when it comes to the surety of the existence of Jesus. He thinks it very probable that Jesus existed, but in no way does he believe in the Resurrection and he believes that such a belief (in the Resurrection) is the main criteria for being a Christian

        On the issue of truth, I continue to have disagreements with one neighbor, a strong Mormon, and another, a fundamentalist evangelical Christian. One believes the Bible to be the inerrant word of God and the other that the BoM is the inerrant word of God, and both study their respective holy books. They both cannot understand why I do not accept the fact that “truth” is a universal concept. In Mormonism the concept of the godhead being Father, Son and Holy Ghost as three separate personages is an absolute, but when I state such a concept to my evangelical friend, he counters with, “That is Satan’s ideas.” He has also told me that the Mormon Church is Satan’s church. So here we have two supposed Christians, one believing in a separateness of the Godhead and the other believing in three essenses of the same God. Both believe their concepts are the absolute truth. Which one is really right and who or what determines what is truth? The Mormon will say God determines truth and the evangelical will agree, but truth seems to reside in their respectable gods. And most likely the Muslim scholars would think neither is truth.

        I thought it interesting that the reason why Ehrman and Dan Barker “lost” their faith, and probably why I did, was because of the suffering in the world. Either God does not want to alleviate the world’s suffering or else he (or she 0r it) cannot alleviate suffering. Barker uses the idea of children suffering in a children’s hospital. My daughter was once in ICU while all around her were children’ with terminal diseases. Now if you are a Mormon and your child gets a priesthood blessing for a long life and then the child dies, the parent sees no problem in this because “God wants the child on the other side to help fight the war in heaven”. And probably other Christians think of similar ways to rationalize such deaths.

        An interesting question asked of Ehrman by Harris was “How can evangelicals justify supporting Donald Trump as president when he flounts his immorality and continues to lie every day?” I understand the answer as to why but I guess that is why in this country there is little different between good and bad. (And I know that such terms are not universal.).

        And Ehrman stated very clearly that in his college classes he does not attempt to change anyone’s minds regarding theology–only history.

        The more I study and the more podcasts I listen to, the more I remain strong in my beliefs. And the more I want to purchase more of Ehrman’s books.

  15. Ryan Wimmer July 4, 2018 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    I love Ehrman’s books. While I done think he will go down in history as one of the elite biblical scholars as far as original ideas or having conducted essential work in the field (something his mentor Bruce Metzger certainly accomplished). But he will go down in history as having brought mainline biblical scholarship to the masses. Who else can write a book about the Bible that is such a page turners they are best sellers? His ability to write and communicate is superb. I also think his writings will be remembered for contributing to the current trajectory towards a less religious America far beyond any influence of books by Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, or Christopher Hitchens.

    One of his best sellers that is not talked about as much that I think is his absolute best is God’s Problem, it is intellectually stimulating as well as emotionally touching.

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