More on Professor Ehrman

A Byzantine Era Mosaic of Christ
A Byzantine Era Mosaic of Christ

I feel that I should further elaborate my position on Professor Ehrman and his very wooden interpretation of the Bible.  I think by providing a shotgun blast of criticism rather than really explaining my position against Professor Ehrman, I really didn’t provide any real reason to disagree with the Professor.

Let me further explain.  Professor Ehrman in particular likes to exploit a verse in Mark to show that Jesus, the Savior of mankind, the Son of God Himself, doesn’t even remember His history.

One Sabbath he was going through the grainfields, and as they made their way, his disciples began to pluck heads of grain.  And the Pharisees were saying to him, “Look, why are they doing what is not lawful on the Sabbath?”   And he said to them, “Have you never read what David did, when he was in need and was hungry, he and those who were with him:   how he entered the house of God, in the time of Abiathar the high priest, and ate the bread of the Presence, which it is not lawful for any but the priests to eat, and also gave it to those who were with him?”  And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.   So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:23-28

As usual, Jesus manages to give a scriptural beatdown to a group of Pharisees who are trying to prove that Jesus is a sinful man and not, in fact, the Messiah.  However, Professor Ehrman’s problem with this passage is that, when David ate the Showbread, Ahimelech was High Priest, Abiathar’s father.  Abiathar was not yet High Priest.  Therefore, asserts Professor Ehrman, Jesus was incorrect.  Further proof that either Jesus was wrong, and therefore mortal, or the Bible is not accurate and inerrant.  Professor Ehrman’s position is based off of the fact that though current translations read “In the days of Abiathar”, but the original Greek actually says “When Abiathar was High Priest.”  Therefore, Professor Ehrman feels that the Bible is wrong, or Jesus is wrong.

Let me first begin by saying that I would expect someone who is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at UNC would actually spend more time learning and studying than Professor Ehrman has.  Perhaps if he spent more time involved in genuine scholarship, he would not be a part of this attack against Christianity.  You see, Professor Ehrman obviously does not know a lot about the holy scriptures prior to the compilation of the entire canon of OT and NT, otherwise he would know that the books of the OT were not arranged exactly the way they are now.  The books were not divided into their current format until the Septuagint, which then placed the books in the order in which they are now and separated the material as it is now.  The important point to that is this:  Jesus didn’t always quote from the Septuagint.  Therefore, when talking to the Pharisees, who would have most likely referenced the Hebrew scripture, which was NOT divided the same as the Septuagint, He would have pointed them to the portion of scripture dealing with this instance, which since Ahimelech is nothing more than a footnote in biblical history, would reasonably be the portion of scripture talking about Abiathar.  So, it is entirely within reason that Jesus would say “When Abiathar was High Priest” as  a reference to the portion of scripture regarding Abiathar, especially since this particular story is the first mention of the famous High Priest of King David.

Another, simpler thing to consider is this:  Jesus was addressing a group of Pharisees that were already hostile to them.  If the guy proclaiming Himself to be the Son of God (And yes, there were claims to deity early in Jesus’ ministry) slips up on something that little and stupid, I think the Pharisees would have been all over that one, and then there wouldn’t be a debate at all.

In determining the meaning of passages in scripture, it is always best to consider the context and to study to show oneself approved.  Professor Ehrman should probably do less wrecking of other people’s faith and study so that he can rebuild his before it is too late.

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One thought on “More on Professor Ehrman

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  1. I’ve been reading a lot on this “scriptural conspiracy” and this is the first time I’ve read this point of view. I still have concerns with your conclusion and would like further clarification.
    Certainly Jesus, who himself had probably studied with the scribal elite (though was not one of them) was aware of the division of the Hebrew scriptures. I think it would be ridiculous to assume otherwise. However, I do not think it correct to call Ahimelech “a mere footnote”. Though he only appears in the passage in Samuel (as well as a few passages dealing with lineage) his inclusion must carry some weight to his historical significance. Are we writing off a biblical character simply because his existence creates problems for how we view the bible? Does our desire to lessen the role of Ahimelech actually support the claims that interpretation has caused variants in the biblical narrative? Does your conclusion that Jesus was referring to “the portion of scripture talking about Abiathar” prove that the authors of the bible (or those involved in the collecting of the writings into a larger volume) were taking liberties with time references and titles? Why would a Pharisee, a rabbi, or scribe feel the need to elevate Abiathar above Ahimelech if the actual written documents claimed Ahimelech to be high priest? Was Ehrman’s epiphany (and subsequent books) concerning this passage the first time anyone had confronted this hiccup? Have you read the paper Ehrman submitted to his professor which supported the concept of an inerrant bible? It would be rash to claim someone had not considered a point of view without completely researching the journey they took.
    What are your views on the idea that Jesus wasn’t claiming Abaithar to be the High Priest during the time of the event, but merely a priest (who would soon be high priest) living during that time? I have difficulty with this idea. It feels as if they are being flexible with the linguistics, especially since most biblical passages referring to a person with a title usually correlates directly to the time frame when the person actually held the title.
    Hasn’t the concept “the passage referring too” been revealed to be flawed? What subsequent proof (other than stories of Abiathar in David’s court) is there that these passages where compounded into a group defined as events that occurred “in the days of Abiathar”?
    Does the fact that this is a direct quote from Jesus carry more weight? The gospel writing claims this to be a direct quote, just as the Sermon on the Mount is a direct quote. I’ve read where scholars believe Jesus was using prolepsis, however, the references used to support this claim are never direct quotes. Additionally, it is a “literary device”, so this wouldn’t this support a hypothesis where the author was infusing something into the story?

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