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Have you read the latest Ehrman book?


Bernard Gui

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I just picked up Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted".

The purpose of the book is to present information

about the Bible that is taught in schools of theology,

but rarely is taught across the pulpit by graduates

of those schools, because it undermines the notion

that the Bible is the infallible word of God.

Has anyone read it? Any comments?

Bernard

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I just picked up Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted".

The purpose of the book is to present information

about the Bible that is taught in schools of theology,

but rarely is taught across the pulpit by graduates

of those schools, because it undermines the notion

that the Bible is the infallible word of God.

Has anyone read it? Any comments?

Bernard

Although not axiomatic attendance at schools of theology or institutions of higher learning in ancient studies or biblical studies usually leads people away from orthodoxy and many cases unbelief. I have the book in my reading rotation, but haven't really gotten into yet.

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Ehrman is turning into something of a one-trick pony with these profitable books! I actually just finished Misquoting Jesus, and enjoyed it, though not always agreeing with Ehrman. Oddly, some of his thinking is still rather fundamentalist, though he has become something of an agnostic. Bill Hamblin posted a link to a review of the book which I read in full, and again, while I don't agree with all of Witherington's conclusions either, it was profitable to read and actually made me less likely to read Inturrupted, though again, I liked Misquoting alright.

Caution: The review is very long, so, uh, "caution." I know how much guff I get when I recommend reading sources to folks around here (oddly this criticism comes from those who generally disagree with my positions).

http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2009/0...nalysis-of.html

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While I think Ehrman has been a solid scholar, and he was a very nice guy when I met him (save the perpetual turtleneck), he seems to be enjoying this profitable little crusade against Christian fundamentalists too much. He told someone I know that he was able to straight up purchase a nice house in London just from the sales of his book "Misquoting Jesus."

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Is he being hypocritical in any of his actions? Is he claiming to be something that he knows he isn't? Is he making a dishonest living?

No. He is very up-front about his position. In this book

he calls on pastors and teachers to teach their

congregations the historical/critical materials they

learned in their seminaries, not just the devotional

aspect of the Bible. In his case, he took the agnostic

path, not from his critical studies, but because he

cannot resolve the problem of human suffering.

He makes it plain that

he does not expect all Christians would follow the

same path. The book points out contradictions and

errors in the Bible that apparently cannot be resolved.

He claims that this information is basic study in

Christian seminaries, but most pastors ignore it once

they have a church and a congregation. He calls on them

to be honest in their teaching.

Bernard

Bernard

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While I think Ehrman has been a solid scholar, and he was a very nice guy when I met him (save the perpetual turtleneck), he seems to be enjoying this profitable little crusade against Christian fundamentalists too much. He told someone I know that he was able to straight up purchase a nice house in London just from the sales of his book "Misquoting Jesus."

Well I bought my copy at the DI for a few bucks, so I can't take any credit for his nice little home away from the colonies.

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I just picked up Bart Ehrman's "Jesus, Interrupted".

The purpose of the book is to present information

about the Bible that is taught in schools of theology,

but rarely is taught across the pulpit by graduates

of those schools, because it undermines the notion

that the Bible is the infallible word of God.

Has anyone read it? Any comments?

Bernard

I have read it a couple of times. I own several of Ehrman's books (Misquoting Jesus, Lost Scriptures, Lost Christianities, and Jesus Interrupted). It is definitely worth reading. His presentation is formidable. I expect it has ruffled the feathers of Dan Wallace and James White. Ehrman, as always, is unorthodox and challenges the 'orthodoxy' or 'proto-orthodoxy'...something that I believe more of LDS should be doing. Not as a means to destroy faith but to be critical of origin.

Is he being hypocritical in any of his actions? Is he claiming to be something that he knows he isn't? Is he making a dishonest living?

No. He has always been honest and doesn't overstate his case. He is by far one of the leading authorities on the NT scripture and its origins and inception. I know some LDS who feel conflicted over the NT as solely rely on the Book of Mormon to be the foundation of Christ and his ministry because it hasn't been tampered with in the same way as the NT.

Saint Sinner

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He is by far one of the leading authorities on the NT scripture and its origins and inception.

I think that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Most of his academic work has centered on NT textual criticism, not origins, and on the Patristic period rather than the first century.

For the most part, Ehrman is a gifted popularizer of others' scholarship. I take my hat off to him, but wish more people were interested in reading the real thing (such as Richard Bauckham's recent Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, reviewed here, or John P. Meier's latest installment in his multivolume Marginal Jew series).

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No. He is very up-front about his position. In this book

he calls on pastors and teachers to teach their

congregations the historical/critical materials they

learned in their seminaries, not just the devotional

aspect of the Bible.

:P What?!?!? You mean, they just do the "faith promoting" thing too, ya know, the kind the critics like to throw at us???

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For the most part, Ehrman is a gifted popularizer of others' scholarship.

Well, in his later books he is largely a popularizer of his own scholarship. The overwhelming majority of references are to his previously-published stuff in Misquoting. As Witherington points out, Ehrman does not really interact with some of the best and most recent findings which could call into question some of his conclusions in Inturrupted. But yes, a talent at speaking to us commoners!

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I think that might be a bit of an exaggeration. Most of his academic work has centered on NT textual criticism, not origins, and on the Patristic period rather than the first century.

For the most part, Ehrman is a gifted popularizer of others' scholarship. I take my hat off to him, but wish more people were interested in reading the real thing (such as Richard Bauckham's recent Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, reviewed here, or John P. Meier's latest installment in his multivolume Marginal Jew series).

Have you read his books Lost Christianities and Lost Scriptures? He extensively talks about the origins of scripture (not just Gnostic or other) and the origins of the real original Christian groups (Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcionites, and the somewhat unpopular Apostolics). I have talked to several professors from different schools (Fuller, Moody, PSR, Harvard, Princeton) who recommend him for Christian origins and textual criticism.

Saint Sinner

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So, are we saying that Ehrman is a plagiarizing

hack who is buying up expensive properties

with the ill-gotten profits from his popularized

pseudo-scholarship pot-boilers?

Bernard

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Have you read his books Lost Christianities and Lost Scriptures? He extensively talks about the origins of scripture (not just Gnostic or other) and the origins of the real original Christian groups (Ebionites, Gnostics, Marcionites, and the somewhat unpopular Apostolics). I have talked to several professors from different schools (Fuller, Moody, PSR, Harvard, Princeton) who recommend him for Christian origins and textual criticism.

Saint Sinner

I've only browsed Lost Christianities. But the "real original Christian groups" you describe all come after the first century. If by "Christian origins" you mean second- and third-century Christianity, then Ehrman is probably as good a guide as any.

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So, are we saying that Ehrman is a plagiarizing hack who is buying up expensive properties with the ill-gotten profits from his popularized pseudo-scholarship pot-boilers?

I'm certainly not saying that. Ehrman is producing well-written, engaging treatments of legitimate scholarship for the masses. I don't begrudge him his London house. I think he deserves his success.

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I've only browsed Lost Christianities. But the "real original Christian groups" you describe all come after the first century. If by "Christian origins" you mean second- and third-century Christianity, then Ehrman is probably as good a guide as any.
This actually may demonstrate one of the problems with Ehrman's books. Though he states openly that the earliest Christian groups are difficult to track (if there could be anything like "groups" at all, etc.) readers may come away with an overinflated confidence in what Ehrman has brought to the table. One of the shortcomings of writing for us ignorant folk.
So, are we saying that Ehrman is a plagiarizinghack who is buying up expensive propertieswith the ill-gotten profits from his popularizedpseudo-scholarship pot-boilers?Bernard
Not me. I think makes some pretty entertaining books and some pretty good points. I wish he was more apt to cite other perspectives, at least in footnotes, but that's not his bag and it doesn't suit the purposes of his target crowd. Again, I enjoyed Misquoting, but at the same time I wonder what things are slipping past me due to a lack of familiarity with some of the material. And in some cases I simply disagree with some conclusions.
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I've only browsed Lost Christianities. But the "real original Christian groups" you describe all come after the first century. If by "Christian origins" you mean second- and third-century Christianity, then Ehrman is probably as good a guide as any.

No...I mean the first century Christians. Ehrman extensively discusses them and why they were considered heretics and lost recognition to the 'winning' Christian group. There are specific sections of the book addressing individually the Marcionites, Ebionites and the Gnostics.

First century it is with his book.

Saint Sinner

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  • 2 weeks later...

Read this book while on vacation and enjoyed it, but agree with LOAP in many ways. I probably share many of Ehrman's feelings but think that his way of writing can seem too conclusive for audiences that are used to getting information in nice little packets that one either swallows whole or spits out as pure filth. Neither describes how one should take the material Ehrman presents and I applaud his latest book for the dialog it really should encourage.

This actually may demonstrate one of the problems with Ehrman's books. Though he states openly that the earliest Christian groups are difficult to track (if there could be anything like "groups" at all, etc.) readers may come away with an overinflated confidence in what Ehrman has brought to the table. One of the shortcomings of writing for us ignorant folk.

I'm curious about this trend in our perceptions to not be able to take something like this book which has much to offer, and seek to glean what we can from it even if it may not to be taken as the "gospel" truth in any absolute manner. Is it because we assume that some things can be? I would suspect this is part of the issue. Is Ehrman's style the problem then or a symptom?; is there something in our natre that makes it more difficult to carry on the type of civic dialog that would allow us to read, analysis, and synthesis from the writings a more closer approximation to what may be true? Are we failing ourselves?

I wish he was more apt to cite other perspectives, at least in footnotes, but that's not his bag and it doesn't suit the purposes of his target crowd. Again, I enjoyed Misquoting, but at the same time I wonder what things are slipping past me due to a lack of familiarity with some of the material. And in some cases I simply disagree with some conclusions.

Well put. As I was reading Jesus Interrupted, there were more than a few times where I felt he could have provided more information on the perspectives that he acknowledges exist, are valid scientifically, and in opposition to some extent from his own. Like you said, not his purpose. But if he is attempting to bridge the gap between typical sunday school and a Harvard divinity school doctorate, it would go a long way in showing the process of discussion in more detail and not just the discrepancy in what is being taught in both places.

That being said, I don't think anyone who has the interest to post on a forum such as this should avoid reading this book or it's like. There should be MADB homework assigned here...an end-of-summer reading assignment maybe.

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Ehrman is turning into something of a one-trick pony with these profitable books! I actually just finished Misquoting Jesus, and enjoyed it, though not always agreeing with Ehrman. Oddly, some of his thinking is still rather fundamentalist, though he has become something of an agnostic. Bill Hamblin posted a link to a review of the book which I read in full, and again, while I don't agree with all of Witherington's conclusions either, it was profitable to read and actually made me less likely to read Inturrupted, though again, I liked Misquoting alright.

Caution: The review is very long, so, uh, "caution." I know how much guff I get when I recommend reading sources to folks around here (oddly this criticism comes from those who generally disagree with my positions).

http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2009/0...nalysis-of.html

LOAP -

Having read the book and now having read this review, I have to say the review is rather poorly done. It was ironic to read, "The Gospels are not, and never were intended to be inspected as if they were ancient photographs of Jesus taken with a high resolution, all seeing lens. On the contrary these documents are much more like portraits, and portraits always are selective, tendentious, perspectival...My point is simple. The Gospels are not works of modern biography or historiography and they should not be evaluated by such canons. "

I say this since one of Erhman's overarching points was that to view the gospels this way was to make a serious error that would likely impact one's ability to fully understand what each author was wanting to say. In his words -

"The historical-critical approach to the bible does not assume that each author has the same message. It allows for the possibility that each author has his own perspective, his own views, his own understanding of what the Christian faith is and should be." (pg 63)

"...(speaking about his experiences teaching New testament to entering freshman at Rutgers and UNC at Chapel Hill) the lesson that I have found most difficult to convey to students - the lesson that is the hardest to convince them of - is the historical-critical claim that each author of the bible needs to be allowed to have his own say on a subject since in many instances what one author has to say on a subject is not what another says." (pg 99) "

Anyway, overall I think that Witherington suffers from the one point he congratulates Erhman on up front - Witherington does not admit his own biases upfront in the critique and instead lets them reveal themselves throughout his review. It reminded me of my reaction to Lee Strobel's The Case for Christ - it does a disservice in it's portrayal of the contradictory view it claims to be representing and opposing.

Anyway, my point is I think you should not let Witherington dissuade you from reading this book. To the contrary, it should be used as a good counterpoint to see how accurate you feel Witherington's points were made versus the points he argues he is refuting in Erhman.

As a side note, W's first critique of Ehrman is of what he perceives as his lack of scholarly publications (appealing instead to the layman as you stated). A google search or two with some follow-up on the results seems to indicate this is not the case. This includes, among many others, a book he co-authored with Bruce Metzger who Witherington seems to admire as a scholarly writer published in 2005 on a similar topic as Misquoting Jesus.

Again, my point is not to disparage Witherington any further than to suggest that his critique is not good grounds for avoiding Ehrman.

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I'm curious, for those LDS who have read this book, how you take the chapters that deal with Paul and the pseudepigraphic epistles? While on can take issue with some of Ehrman's conclusions on what it means that many of the books of the New Testament were not written by who they are said to have been written by, I am curious if it is possible to reconcile this view with the belief in a "true" christian faith of any kind? Or does this mean that for the LDS faith to be a true restoration, in fact much of the New Testament is actually false doctrine?

But if this is the case, then how does one reconcile the notion the epistles that spell out the organization of the church were not written by Paul and seem to even run counter to Paul's vision of the church as expressed by Ehrman? Can you refute Ehrman, maintain Pauline authorship, and do so in a manner that is scholarly rather than just traditional? And what to make of JS's apparent experience in having met Paul and giving a description of his physical appearance? You would think setting the record straight would be a high priority for Paul if they had actually met.

This topic alone should make this book a must read IMO.

Edit - I recognize most haven't read this book, but for those who have the relavent pages are 129 to 133 where he discussed the pastoral epistles of 1 and 2 Timothy as well as Titus. He makes the case that all three were not written by Paul and in fact contradict key points that Paul made in other writings that are generally agreed to have been authentically his. I am sure that there are plenty of internet sources that convey the same information regarding the debate of authorship of these books. I'll look around and post a couple, hopefully from both sides of the discussion.

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I'm not spending as much time chasing down articles as I perhaps should since I brought this topic up, but here are a few to help others understand the issue with Paul, the pastoral epistles and the nature of church organization:

1 Timothy

1 Authorship and date

1.1 Traditional view

The traditional view accepts Paul as the author, and a date around AD 66 or 67. According to Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897), "it is a letter from Paul to Timothy. Paul's authorship was undisputed in antiquity, as far as known, but is frequently doubted today.

"Paul in this epistle speaks of himself as having left Ephesus for Macedonia (1:3), and hence not Laodicea, as mentioned in the subscription; but probably Philippi, or some other city in that region, was the place where this epistle was written. During the interval between his first and second imprisonments he probably visited the scenes of his former labours in Greece and Asia, and then found his way into Macedonia, whence he wrote this letter to Timothy, whom he had left behind in Ephesus."

1.2 Critical view

Since none of the pastoral epistles were included in Marcion's canon of ten epistles, which was assembled c. 140 (Alternate uses, see Number 140''. Events Pope Pius I succeeded Pope Hyginus. Ptolemy completes his Almagest (approximate date). Births Deaths 140., ) and since there is no certain quotation of any of these epistles before Irenaeus, the critical view is that they were written about the middle of the 2nd. Critics examining the text fail to find its vocabulary and literary style similar to Paul's unquestionably authentic letters, fail to fit the situation of Paul in the epistle into Paul's reconstructed biography, and identify principles of the emerged Christian church rather than those of the apostolic generation. In the First Epistle to Timothy the task of preserving the tradition is entrusted to ordained presbyters, in a sense of presbuteros as an indication of an office that is alien to Paul and the apostolic generation

Another that presents both sides is here - USCCB on 1st Timothy

Anyway, it seems that the authentic Pauline epistles do not show a hierarchy of any type like that found in 1st Timothy, but that this was part of the various evidences that show a later, more developed church where the 2nd century author of the epistle used Paul's name to give this letter weight.

So, are bishops, elders, etc. an invention of the apostasy?

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I'm bumping this because it seems like it could be a topic that hasn't been rehashed to death.

It's a serious question - is the organization of the church that was supposedly restored by JS actually the product of the apostacy from the church taught by Christ and lived by the apostles in the first century CE? The debate over the authorship of the pastoral epistles indicated this may be so.

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It's a serious question - is the organization of the church that was supposedly restored by JS actually the product of the apostacy from the church taught by Christ and lived by the apostles in the first century CE? The debate over the authorship of the pastoral epistles indicated this may be so.

Even if the Pastoral Epistles were not authored by Paul, I'm not sure why we should think that they reflect a church organization that is "the product of the apostasy." If presbyters ("elders") weren't known to Paul, they were certainly known to other NT writers such as Luke (see, e.g., Acts 14:23; 20:17, 18).

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