The Value of Eyewitness Testimony

The first of today’s two-short-posts from new “Boxes” in my New Testament textbook, on a matter of vital importance to anyone interested in knowing about the historical Jesus.

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What Do You Think?

Box 13.3  The Value of Eyewitness Testimony

 

If you want to know about something that happened in the past – whether in a criminal trial or just among your family and friends – you almost always prefer to learn what an eyewitness saw or heard.   ...

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Eyewitnesses and the Gospels: A Blast From the Past

Five years ago today I received and answered this question on the blog.  I thought it would make a nice break from my current discussion of my change of faith, a topic to which I’ll return tomorrow.  For now, here’s a blast from the past.

 

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QUESTION

One of the major points of your work (if I understand correctly) is that the contents of the New Testament are at a vast remove in time, place, and source from any ...

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91

Memory, Eyewitnesses, and the Relevance of Jesus: Readers Mailbag

In this week’s Readers’ Mailbag I will deal with three questions, all of them having to do with the historical Jesus:  how has memory studies affected my understanding of Jesus; whether the claim that the Gospels are based eyewitnesses is a new or an ancient attempt to “guarantee” their accuracy; and whether Jesus can be relevant today if his basic apocalyptic view was proven to be wrong.

Good questions, all of them!  If you have any questions about anything involving the ...

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The Triumphal Entry as a Distorted Memory

In my previous post I provided an excerpt from Jesus Before the Gospels where I summarized the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry.”  Here is the second part of that two-part post, another excerpt, where I call this tradition into question, arguing that it cannot be right historically and that it must, therefore, represent a distorted memory.

It is important to recall that “memory” is not simply a recollection of what we ourselves experienced (what you had for dinner last ...

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Weekly Readers Mailbag: February 13, 2016

 

Time for the weekly mailbag.  This week I’m dealing with only one question; I want to give a more elaborate answer than usual since it relates so closely to my forthcoming book Jesus Before the Gospels.   Here’s the question:

 

QUESTION: 

Dr. Ehrman, as you mention we tend to remember events that carry a large emotional impact (e.g. 9/11, Kennedy assassination, etc.) but, in turn, we tend to easily forget the more banal and mundane events in life (e.g. what we ate for ...

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Weekly Readers’ Mailbag: February 7, 2016

Time for my weekly mailbag.   Before dealing with two rather more direct questions that have come to me – one about eyewitness testimony and the other about whether I hope to get on Fresh Air and Colbert with the new book – I thought I would include an item that did not come to me from the blog, but on my Facebook page.  It’s a brief exchange I had with some anonymous figure.  I seem to have a lot of ...

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Q & A about Jesus Before the Gospels, Part 1

Steven pointed out to me that the first part of the Q&A also got obliterated and sent into the stratosphere during our recent technological nightmare.   So I need to re-post it.  Here it is!

I have received a number of interesting questions about the book, raised by these three segments of Q&A.  If you have any you would like me to address on the blog, let me know!   Here is the original post:

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As I have already indicated, ...

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Q & A about Jesus Before the Gospels, Part 3

Here is the third and last installment of the Q&A that I did with my publisher, HarperOne, about my new book Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Early Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior. (The final sentence of the final answer is, I think, the longest I’ve written in my life!!)

I’m getting excited about the book and its release on March 1. If you have any questions you would like to ask me about the book ...

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Q & A about Jesus Before the Gospels: Part 2

I have started to post the Q&A that I have done for my publisher (HarperOne) on my new book (due out one month from today! March 1, 2016), Jesus Before the Gospels. I’m really excited about its release. In many ways it is very different from anything I’ve published before, even though it is dealing with the reliability of the Gospels.

Here is the second of three installments of the questions and answers.

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1. In the book, you look at anthropological studies ...

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Do I Have the Expertise Needed for My Book?

 

QUESTION: 

You have criticized other scholars for writing on subjects outside their fields of expertise – Reza Aslan, for instance, for his book on the historical Jesus when he is a sociologist, not a historian of religion. Have you considered editing a work with experts in the various fields that speak to the eyewitness to tradition to textual pipeline? Would such a collaboration likely be any more informative to a general audience?

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, great question!  I’m going to answer what I ...

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