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  1. Avatar
    Adam  April 30, 2012

    Some argue that Jesus’ resurrection was understood by the ealiest Christians as non-physical and non-bodily. Borg argues for this interpretation:


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    BillStrehlow  May 3, 2012

    That is it? I trust there will be more. I do hope that there might be words on how the ‘belief’ in the Resurrection was such a ‘magnet’ that some Jews and Gentiles were drawn by it…and gathered for this and that.

    Enjoy this. It is fun. Glad I signed up.


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    RyanBrown  May 5, 2012

    Am I mistaken in thinking that there are no references to the Messiah rising from the dead within Hebrew scriptures? I know Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 do not reference the Messiah, but remain favorites within Christianity.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 5, 2012

      No, you are not mistaken. There are no references to a resurrected messiah in the Hebrew Bible.

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    bobnaumann  May 11, 2012

    Do you think Jesus engineered his death because he believed it would hasten the coming of the Kingdom of God? It looks as if he had done some planing and had some inside men in Jerusalem. How else does one explain the donkey there waiting for his triumpful entry, the reservations for the Last Supper at Passover, the tomb of Joseph of Arimethia?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 11, 2012

      I think the problem is that the narratives about Jesus’ death have been modified by Christian story-tellers in light of their beliefs, so that a number of the incidents (including the ones you mention) cannot be relied upon as historically accurate. But no, I don’t think Jesus engineered the whole thing. For a fascinating account by someone who *does* think this, see Hugh Schonfield’s book The Passover Plot.

      • Avatar
        bobnaumann  May 12, 2012

        I have read The Passover Plot which I thought presented an interesting possibility. It does seem clear to me that Jesus came to Jerusalem expecting to die there. The question is, what did he think his dying would accomplish?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  May 13, 2012

          My guess is that he didn’t expect to die. He went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, not to get crucified.

  5. Avatar
    Annetta  May 11, 2012

    I have spent the last 3+ years trying to truly get to the facts of what is behind of my roman catholic upbringing, which then evolved to evangelican christianity, loaded with doubts.

    Coming out of all of this stuff has been quite the experience, fascinating and very intriguing. Thank you for your books, your debates and now, this blog..What a wealth of information, facts, rationality and thought provoking wisdom. You have been absolutely instrumental in this challenging journey out of Oz…

    • Avatar
      TomJull  May 19, 2012

      Hi Annetta,

      If you have found your way to this blog, you left Oz some time ago. But reality may be something between the Oz you left and the absence of gnosis you learn here. Most of the folks who post here seem to be disgruntled fundamentalists who seek a place to vent their frustrations more than their thirst for understanding.

  6. Avatar
    fred  May 12, 2012

    William Lane Craig is a master debater. He rarely loses, but you managed to trounce him – and I give you my belated congratulations. Craig has gotten in the last word in his most recent edition of Reasonable Faith:

    “Ehrman seems to suggest that it is the historian’s lack of access to the supernatural realm, which prevents his justifiably inferring that some event has a supernatural cause. But this objection is very weak. In the first place, the historian need not have direct access to the explanatory entities postulated by one’s hypothesis. Think of the analogy of contemporary physics. Physicists posit all sorts of entities to which they have no direct access: strings, higher dimensional membranes, even parallel universes. They postulate such entities as the best explanation for the evidence to which we do have access…Indeed…the historian doesn’t have direct access to any of the objects of his study!…The past is gone and things and events of the past can be inferred only indirectly on the basis of present evidence. Inaccessibility is thus not an epistemologically differentiating feature of natural as opposed to supernatural entities.

    “Finally, even if we were to concede that the professional historian must as a member of his guild act under the constraint of methodological naturalism, the question remains why we should so act. Why can’t I as a philosopher or just as a human being judge that the best explanation for the facts of the case is a miraculous explanation? Indeed, why can’t the historian himself, in his off-hours, so to speak, make a similar judgement? Would it not be a tragedy if we were to fail to come to know the truth about reality simply because of a methodological constraint? Apart from some good reason for thinking that inference to a supernatural explanation is irrational, why should we, when we are not acting as professional historians, pay heed to a mere methodological constraint?” pg 352-353 Reasonable Faith, 3rd edition.

    Would you care to share any thoughts about this?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 13, 2012

      Yes, he is indeed a very skilled debater. It’s true that observers are unable to have direct access to strings and parallel universes; but in theory they *are* accessible. God is not subject to scientific investigation. If Craig really thinks He is, then he will have opened the door precisely to the critique leveled by the neo-atheists, that God must not exist because he fails to meet all the requirements of scientific inquiry (an argument made, e.g., by Dawkins and Harris). I’m not sure Craig really wants to do that.
      On his second point, I agree that if Craig wants to conclude that God exists as a philosopher or as a human being he is perfectly free to do so. But he cannot do so as a historian (he is not a historian, in any event, so perhaps the quesiton is moot). Historians can *not* posit the existence of God when doing historical work (though they can do so if they want to do philosophical work; or even just as human beings). It should not strike Craig as odd that there is no respectable historian on the planet who invokes God as the reason the Allies won WWII, even though as human beings a number of these historians may well think so. But you will never ever find a respectable history of the War that calls God into narrative to explain why things went as they did. And why not? Because historians do not appeal to divine causality to explain what happens in history. Period!

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        zaitzeff  January 27, 2014

        >Because historians do not appeal to divine causality to explain what happens in history. Period!

        It seems to me as if you are making a blanket statement, the truth of which must depend on your definition of historian.

        You know or should know the story of the fog and storm on Long Island in August 1776. You know or should know the stories of the Protestant wind.

        You know or should know the story of Patton and the weather prayer for his army when they wished to relieve Bastogne in December 1944.

        Were there not historians who attributed some or all of these events to the hand of God?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  January 27, 2014

          No, I’m afraid a historian will not say that God answered Patton’s prayers and that’s why the story ended the way it did. If you do find a historian who says that (can you?) s/he is saying that as a believer, not as a historian, and is either a fundamentalist or a not-at-all-respected historian….

      • Avatar
        zaitzeff  January 27, 2014


        Billias argues Bancroft played on four recurring themes to explain how America developed its unique values: providence, progress, patria, and pan-democracy. “Providence” meant that destiny depended more on God than on human will. . . .

        George Bancroft was not a historian?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  January 27, 2014

          That’s just my point. You could argue that sort of thing in the early 19th century when everyone shared your religious views. You won’t find historians today doing that! Unless they teach at a fundamentalist university (or denominational school, etc.).

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      Christian  October 17, 2012

      Perhaps the story of the ether in physics is more interesting. First, two media were posited to account for the propagation of electromagnetic waves and light. Then light was found to behave like an electromagnetic wave, so the number of ethers was reduced to one. Then the experiment of Morley-Michelson falsified the very existence of an ether. It is time that string theory and multiverse theories become amenable to experiments; many physicists are displeased with these… ethereal concepts. But you certainly will not be able to scientifically prove the non-existence of a god, or fairies, for that matter! As for direct proof of existence, black holes themselves, by definition, cannot be observed directly, but their indirect effects, which are observable, are consistent with the theory. No problem. Same with the existence of dark matter and dark energy.

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    NarrowGate  June 8, 2012

    Theres something that always strikes me about the resurrection story: why did nothing significant happen during those short days or weeks before his ascension? He wanders around, bumps into some apostles, then he’s gone again. He could have described his experiences of the past few days, or given the apostles as much instruction as he could in the time they had left. No one could ever forget a conversation like that, yet their behavior in the Acts focused mainly on the apocalyptic aspects of Jesus teachings.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  June 8, 2012

      Yes, that is why so many of the Gnostic Gospels locate their mystical/secret “revelations” to that period, between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. In those texts (there’s at least one proto-orthodox counterpart in the Epistula Apostolorum), that’s when Jesus divulged the *real* truth to his insiders (unavailable to oi polloi who heard him while living)!

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    oklahomasooner82  September 30, 2013

    It seems odd to me that anyone would care anything about God or serving him in any faith if there was no belief in an afterlife. So why would they care anything about what God said if they didn’t worry about eternal suffering or eternal bliss? What was their belief about following God’s laws; what was the end expectation of following these laws? To not be smitten???

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  October 1, 2013

      Actually, until Christianity came along the vast majority of humanity was religious for other reasons — such as having a good life here and now.

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