The Bart Ehrman Spin

Image result for Metacrock's blog Manuscripts and authorship

I like Bart Ehrman and I was greatly amused by his take down of Richard Carrier imn their tussle over the Jesus myther delusion, Yet I have an ax to grind against Ehrman because no matter how good his scholarship (it is fine ) he put's a pin on everything that purposely casts a poll over belief, His book Forged is a good example.[1] I have not read the book but I am going by what he says in his Cambridge lectures,which I have seen on You Tube. [2]

In his review of Forged  Mike Licona  says: 
Ehrman’s bottom line message is that literary forgeries were plentiful in antiquity, many of which were written by Christians and that approximately 70 percent of the New Testament writings were not written by those to whom they are attributed. Ehrman is well read on the subject, citing from a number of doctoral dissertations, scholarly monographs, and journal articles in both English and German. Why is  the subject matter of this book important? For years, a significant number of biblical scholars have contended that the traditional authorship of a large portion of the New Testament literature is mistaken. This raises an important question: If, lets say, Peter was not at all involved in writing 2 Peter and the letter was not written until several decades after Peter’s death, should it be included in the New Testament canon and regarded as authoritative to the Christian? After all, if God does not lie, it would seem that he would not have inspired a letter written by someone who was deceiving others by claiming to be someone he was not. So, if it can be soundly concluded that some of the New Testament literature were not written by the traditional authors, should the guilty literature be removed from the New Testament canon?[3]
Licona is making too much of it, as is Ehman, at least Ehrman knows that (Licona teaches at Huston Baptist U.he's required to make a big deal out of inerrency). Erman brashly calls the biblical authors liars and speaks of the dishonesty how the lies of false authorship re hidden in innocent words like "pseudepigrapha" which literally means "so called or false writing." Erhman hits the reader in the face with the stock of of his rifle by calling it "forgery." I see that as casting a poll or putting an anti-faith spin on it because he knows full well,that liberal theologians are walking these things every day it does not make them lose faith if they have faith. Yes, there are some who do.

Examples of "lies" connected with  Authorship of New Testament books used by Ehrman include: 1 Peter, Jude, and the Pseudonymous Pauline corpus [4]. None of these three examples are known factually to be "forgeries," They are considered to be  pseudepigraphal by the majority of scholars, but not proven absolutely to be so. I will not go into great detail here on authorship arguments because next time I will deal with authorship of 1 Peter. The major issue for Peter, however, is literacy. There are several studies which prove literacy rates for time of Christ in Palestine were about 3% of population.[5] Erman points to the Harris study,[6] Peter being a fisherman from rural Galilee would most probably have been illiterate, and the book of Acts alludes to this fact,(4:13) Peterian authorship is most often defended by the idea of someone writing the book for him with his participation. Ehrman asserts there is no example of someone writing a book for another in ancient world,[7]

Now here is what I mean about the spin. People did not write books for people but 1 Peter is hardly War and Peace.It's only about as long as your first homesick letter from college, It's a New Testament book. Moreover, we know that Paul dictated Romans to someone  who wrote for him, (Romans 16: 22 "I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord"). Furthermore, 1 Peter says  "With the help of Silas,[b] whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly," (1 Pete 5:12). There is no way Ehrman doesn't know this, It looks pretty dishonest at this point. In the lecture he blurts it out "cut and dried,...illiterate..."no way he wrote it" he says. But obviously he;s ignoring the fact that in this light the literacy of the author is moot, This is a spin.

Jude is Less clear cut but still there is room for argumet and thus calling the author a liar is too brash. Judy purports to be  the work of Jesus brother Judas (called"Jude" to distinguish him from the bad Judas). Mysteriously the book actually says "bother of James,"
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for[a] Jesus Christ:2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. 
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, 3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
This strike me as as though the Preamble is added on to the work which really begins,"dear friends..." We don't know much about the book but it was accepted as authoritative by almost all apostolic "fathers" an other early church notables.[8] The attribution of the preamble to "servant of Christ, brother of James" has been understood as humility which would imply that the author wrote the preamble. But there could be another reason, namely that the implication is being made that Christ and James don't have the same father thus hinting at Christ's divine nature. All we know is that the book is by someone early on who taken as a great authority by the whole church, It could easily be that someone who thought this to be Jesus' brother owing to the importance of the author, rightly or wrongly,  stuck on the preamble introducing who he thought the author was. In any case does that really warrant calling the author a "liar?"

The issue here is not authorship per se. I am willing to accept that half of the Pauline corpus is not written by Paul. I'm not sure I'm willing to call them all liars.  I suppose Ehrman get's credit for honesty but he overdoes it.Pauline Corpus is.too complicated to go into here, but I will make a brief observation. The church obviously did not condone forgery.The author of the Acts f Paul and Theckla
was taken out of office because he forged the document. [9] The possibilities for 1 Peter and Jude Illustrate the possibilities for scholarly error and hold open the notion that maybe they weren't all lying.

Another example of the Spin is Ehrman's statement in debate with Bauckham about the for Gospels, He asserts that the four canonical Gospels were never lined up the way they are and mentioned side by side as fold testimony before Irenaeus in late second century,.[10] That is true literally, but when Bauckham tries to argue Papias says Peter was Mark's source and Papis was Irenaeus' teacher so he got his info from the same source as did Papias (which was the eye witness to Jesus' Elder John). Irenaeus is quite clear thathis authority for the four gospels comes to him from John through Papias.
Ehrman just says the text of Mark does not say that Mark is writing by authority of Peter and he refuses to considered it. Of course when the text of 1 Pete says he dictated the letter to Silas he refuses to accept that too. We see the spin is born of double standard. Of course the odds are Irenaeus lining up of the four gospels was not the first anyone ha done that, it;s not likely our first example would really be the first time it happened.

Where I went to seminary no no one believed in inerrency, it was rarely mentioned. But there was beloief, Liberals have known about these issues for 200 years and have struggled through a lot harder unbelief than we find in liberal seminaries today. The spin does not have to come down on the side of unbelef every time,we can use fair standards and ot make double standards and not hide inconvenient facts. Ehrman is feeding the atheist agenda and feeding skepticism and unbreakable, Liberal theology is the only rational answer to unbelief. My principle that has guided me since I began internet apologetics in 1999 has been to use liberal sources whenever the skeptic will have less to criticize AsI just illustrated a n orthodox position can be supported with liberal theology,

Sources and notes

[1] Bart Ehrman, Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. NewYork:Harper Collins Publishers, 2012,1.

[2] Bart Erham, "Ehrman's Cambridge Lecture on Forged," Video, You Tube, (Published on Jul 18, 2015)

Program discussed on Bart Ehrman's Foundation Blog:
from You Tube:
Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He came to UNC in 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. A graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois), Professor Ehrman received both his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where his 1985 doctoral dissertation was awarded magna cum laude.

[3] Mike Licona, "Review of Bart Ehrman's Book Forged: Writing in the Name of God." Risen Jesus"Monstrosity Mike Licona, blog, (July 15, 2015) (accessed 7/9/17)

Mike Licona teaches at Houston Baptist university,

[4] The accepted Pauline works are:(Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, GalatiansPhilippians1 ThessaloniansPhilemon the unaccepted or Deutero-Pauline epistles (2 Thessalonians, Colossians, and Ephesians) and the Pastoral Epistles (1-2 Timothy and Titus). 

[5] MIKE GANTT,"Bart Ehrman on Literacy in the First Century," Current Events In Light of The Kingdom of God, blog, ()

He also mentions this in Cambridge lecture.

[7] Bart Ehrman, "Cambridge Lecture...," op cit.

[8] Victor Paul Furnish "Ephesians, Epistle to the" in Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary Ed. David Noel Freedman (Doubleday, 1992), 2:539-544.

[9]Latin Christianity: Its Founder, Tertullian – Chapter XVII. - Of the Power of Conferring Baptism".
On line version Christian Classics Eterhal Libtary (accessed 9/7/17) URL:

[10]  "Bart Ehrman vs Richard Bauckham - Round 1." Video, moderator Justin Brierley , published on You Tiube, (Published on Apr 13, 2016) (access 9/7/17)

Program discussed on Bart Ehrman's Foundation Blog:

Christian radio show "Unbelievable" hosted by Justin Brierley: 

"On Saturday 9th April 2016 - 02:30 pm, Bart D. Ehrman and Richard J. Bauckham join as guests with moderator Justin Brierley on radio show "Unbelievable," a weekly program aired on UK Premier Christian Radio from the London studio. They discuss "Are the Gospels Based on Eyewitness Testimony?" 

Richard J. Bauckham is a New Testament scholar and professor of New Testament studies at St. Mary's College, University of St. Andrews, Scotland. "Bauckham is perhaps best known for his studies of the book of Revelation and for his commentaries on Jude and 2 Peter. He is also a thoughtful theologian who has written an introduction to the theology of Jürgen Moltmann. In his book God Crucified (1999), Bauckham displays the craft of both a careful exegete and a deft theologian as he explores the riddle of how the radically monotheistic Jews who composed the earliest church could have come to call Jesus 'Lord'." His book Jesus and the Eyewitnesses won the 2007 Book Award in Biblical Studies from Christianity Today.

Ehrman discussed imn fn 2


BK said…
Personally, I have no love for Ehrman. All you need to do is search his name on the Cadre blog and you will see that he has been criticized several times - often by people with more background than I. But I am glad you agree that he has a spin, because he does have an agenda and (while I cannot prove it) I don't believe it is to tell the truth.
Joe Hinman said…
BTW no one should care but the guy in FN 8 was at Perkins when I went there.

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