I can’t tell you how exciting it is to me to know that I live in the same state as Bart Ehrman, a distinguished member of the staff at the University of North Carolina. Professor Ehrman has recently released a new book entitled Jesus, Interrupted. Now, to be perfectly fair, I haven’t sat down and read Mr. Ehrman’s “masterpiece of NT textual criticism.” But that’s not my fault. It’s not my fault, because Mr. Ehrman really isn’t much of a masterpiece maker. In fact, my position, after viewing the evidence, is that Mr. Ehrman is basically puffed up on himself and is heavy on style, but utterly devoid of substance.
Because I haven’t read Mr. Ehrman’s work, I have included a video from his appearance with Steven Colbert on The Colbert Report. I won’t go into the gory details, and I admittedly don’t even know much about Mr. Colbert, but after watching the video, I am much more impressed by his acumen than Mr. Ehrman’s.
One thing that amazes me is Mr. Ehrman’s incredibly wooden reading of the gospels. For example, he compares the record of the gospels in Mark and Luke and concludes that they conflict because in Mark, Jesus seems to not understand why He was dying, while in Luke He was calm and concerned about all around Him.
Is Bart serious? Is this really what passes for New Testament ship these days? COME ON! First of all, Jesus was quoting Psalm 22. He knew what was going on. He had just told the disciples a few days previously that He was going to die. Would He now be mystified as to why He was being crucified? NO, HE WOULDN’T. Even beyond that, let’s think for a moment. Jesus was comforting the women who were standing beside His path to Golgotha. He wasn’t on the cross yet. Also, consider this. Jesus was on the cross for six hours. SIX HOURS! Do you really think a chapter out of each of the 4 gospels REALLY covered everything that happened? I’m sure that a lot more went on, but the gospel writers recorded what they recorded for a specific purpose. The combination of the 3 synoptics with the Gospel of John provides an incredibly full account of Christ’s death. The sad thing is that surely, if all four gospels recorded the same thing, then Professor Ehrman would accuse the gospel writers of overcorroboration.
Also, it’s not the Jews of early Palestine that were confused on what the “Son of God” meant. It’s Ehrman who doesn’t get it. The “Son of Man,” as Jesus was apt to describe Himself, was a divine being, as evidenced in Daniel. Also, there was enough prophecy surrounding the birth of Jesus that it should leave little doubt as to whether or not Jesus was divine. The prophecy of Isaiah even went so far as to say that He would be called “Mighty God.” Consider for a moment the implications if this was not what was meant by that prophecy. You have a God who has previously stated there are no other gods but Him, stating through Isaiah, His chosen mouthpiece, that someone else would be called God. How would that not be terribly wonky unless the being who would be called God was God, and shared in the divinity of the One who was God? And you can’t argue from lack of authenticity of Isaiah, because we have scrolls from Qumran that predate the birth of Christ by 100 years. Give me a break.
One more note to consider. Ehrman claims that the divinity of Christ was a late addition to Christianity. If that’s the case, explain why Corinthians, written assuredly before 68 AD (Paul had his head removed from his neck in 68), contains a creed that was expressed by early Christians that basically amounts to an expression of Christ’s resurrection, which should surely prove that He was divinity. Why did Paul offer 500 eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection, unless the witnesses were there to be asked? It makes no sense.
People like Bart Ehrman are only as dangerous as we allow them to be. With careful study and workmanship, we can refute the pitifully shallow arguments of men like him, Richard Dawkins, and Chris Hitchens. My wish is that Christians would take the time to build their faith through a sound defense of said faith.