In my previous post I indicated that one of the quotations of the Gospel of the Ebionites, as preserved in the writings of Epiphanius, appears to represent some kind of harmonization of the Gospels, an attempt to explain how the three different versions of what the voice from heaven says at Jesus’ baptism can *all* be right (since the voice says different things in each of the three Gospels).  Solution: the voice spoke *three* times, saying something different each time (!).

This way of solving discrepancies in the Gospels has persisted through the ages.  Most people don’t realize that it goes way back to the early church.  I’ll say more about that eventually.  For now I want to say something about it in modern times.

When I was in college – as a good hard-core fundamentalist who did not think there could be any real discrepancies in the Gospels (since they were inspired by God, which means there could be no mistakes, which means there could be no contradictions) – I was an expert at reconciling differences among the Gospels.  This was years and years before I had ever heard that there was such a thing as the Gospel of the Ebionites!  But I took a very similar approach.

Many people still do (including many of my undergraduate students).  So what does one do with the fact (it *is* a fact!) that in the Synoptic Gospels Jesus “cleanses the Temple” (when he goes in and overturns tables of money changers and drives out those selling sacrificial animals) during the last week of his life – this is

what ultimately leads to his opposition by the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem, which led him to be crucified – but in the Gospel of John, it is virtually the first thing that he does at the beginning of a two or three year ministry?  Which is it?  Well, back in my college days, the answer was: it is both!  Jesus cleansed the Temple at the beginning of his ministry and he cleansed it at the end.  He did it twice!!

It never occurred to me at the time that there might be problems with this view (like: why didn’t he get in trouble the first time?; it was only “logical” to me.

I bought a book at the time that took great pleasure in reconciling *all* the discrepancies of the Gospels in this way.  The book was written by a man named Johnston Cheney, and was called The Life of Christ in Stereo (get it?  You have *four* speakers?  Stereo?!?  I guess today we would call it “Surround Sound,” but I’m not sure that existed in 1973).  It’s still in print.   All the problems of the Gospels are smoothed out if you simply place all the Gospels together into one BIG Gospel; the differences then disappear.

And so, for example, what does one do with the fact (another fact) that in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus predicts Peter’s denial by saying that “he would deny him three times before the cock crows”, but in the Gospel of Mark he predicts that he would deny him three times “before the cock crows *twice*”?  It’s very simple.  Peter denied Jesus *six* times: three times before the cock crowed and three times before the cock crowed twice!

Today I look on this way of approaching the Gospels as rather humorous.  But in a more serious vein, I have to say that I find it highly objectionable.  The reason is this:  those who take what one Gospel says, combine it with what another Gospel says, and thereby create the “true” and “real” story/Gospel have not interpreted the Gospels as they have come down to us.  They have instead created their *own* Gospel, writing a new one that is completely unlike any of the Gospels of the NT.

Of course anyone and everyone is  free to do this – it’s a free country!  But realize that once you do that, you’re refusing to read the Gospels as they were produced, and have produced an alternative version of your own, one that isn’t in the Bible and one that never existed before you created it.  The real problem with that is that this destroys the integrity of each of the Gospels as they stand, and in the process robs each of the authors of these Gospels of his own unique understanding of who Jesus was and what he said and did.

Surely it is not the best way to read a book to make it say something other than it says in order to understand it better.  We don’t do this with other literature.  No one would take a book that *I* have written, combine it with a book that Jerry Falwell, or Dan Brown, or even N.T. Wright or Dominic Crossan has written, and then claim that *that* is what I really meant all along.  So why do it with the Gospels?  Why pretend that Luke has to be interpreted in light of John, or Mark in light of Matthew, and so on?

The reason people do this is because the Gospels – separate books – come to us as a collection within the same covers as *one* book.  But again, we don’t do that with other anthologies of texts.  We don’t take a collection of American short stories and pretend that the way to understand a story by Mark Twain is to combine what it says with a story by Steven Crane.   We *could* read books that way.  But we don’t.  And why?  Because we assume that Mark Twain has something different to say from Steven Crane.

But the same is true of the NT Gospels.  Each author has his own point of view, and we rob him of his perspective – and his integrity as an author — when we pretend otherwise.

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2023-09-05T17:34:44-04:00September 13th, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Christian Apocrypha|

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  1. nicolausaldanha September 13, 2023 at 6:32 am

    “Today I look on this way of approaching the Gospels as rather humorous.”
    It does sound ridiculous, does it not, that things keep happening twice or even three times.
    Was the ridiculous part of the reason you abandoned fundamentalism?

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 2:57 pm

      At the time it didn’t seem ridiculous/humorous to me, just a bit shocking….

  2. larryc43230 September 13, 2023 at 7:39 am

    First, I agree 100% that trying to reconcile the four Gospels by somehow combining them into one narrative is futile and just plain wrong. However, I think I understand how authors who try to reconcile the narratives would justify the attempt. Those authors see the four Gospels as biographical data rather than interpretations, and they try to lump the details together and reconcile them in the same way that someone trying to write the definitive biography of JFK (for example) might take the various previous biographies and reconcile discrepancies in the timelines and other details. These attempts ultimately originate from the notion that unless the Bible, including the Gospels, can be shown as completely factual, the faith itself is open to question. To those attempting this feat, the interpretations of the Gospel writers are much less important than reconciling the biographical data.

  3. timo September 13, 2023 at 8:36 am

    I find it so interesting your post. I have question for you: should Christians leave their faith because of the Gospel’s contradictions? On the hand hand, what I have understood from your post is that you are defending the approach that we shouldn’t interpret the Gospels in the view of the other ones, is that right?
    Note: are there any books that I should start reading on the issue of the historical Jesus and the interpretation of the Gospels historical talking?
    Regards from a small town located in Peru.

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 2:59 pm

      One of my major points that I insist on is that it would be crazy to leave Christianity because the Bible has contradictions. It makes no sense. Christianity is not the belief that God inspired an inerrant Bible (the way fundamentalists claim). It’s the belief that Christ is the way to salvation. Christ could be the way to salvation whether God wrote a book or not! They are unrelated issues.
      You might start with my book Jesus Interrupted.

  4. jscheller September 13, 2023 at 9:18 am

    It seems to me that this problem is closely related to the linking of different scriptural passages to build an eschatological view of end times as well. Every doomsday doctrine I’ve seen takes bits and pieces from different books in the bible and weaves them together to suggest that the “clues” to the prophecy have been placed by God in different books, for us to assemble with the help of The Spirit. Today, the absurdity of such textual manipulation should be apparent by simply observing fake videos in action, where clever people take bits and pieces of what someone was recorded saying or doing in the span of many different occasions and clips them together to make a person say or do something they never said or did at all. Do you think this approach is based on people not seeing scripture as “books”, but instead as a large database of statements that can be freely mixed and matched at the user’s discretion, because all the statements are considered “God’s words”?

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:00 pm

      Yup, that’s a bit part of it!

  5. jhague September 13, 2023 at 10:16 am

    “those who take what one Gospel says, combine it with what another Gospel says, and thereby create the “true” and “real” story/Gospel have not interpreted the Gospels as they have come down to us. They have instead created their *own* Gospel, writing a new one that is completely unlike any of the Gospels of the NT.”

    I completely agree with what you are saying but I do not think most (any) church attending Christian will ever understand this issue. Most of them only understand what they are told at their church. Virtually all Bible classes and sermons that I have heard not only combine all of the Gospels but basically the entire Bible. Proof texts are used from the old and new testaments in order to make whatever point the minister is looking to make. And the listeners accept as they do not know any better. They think that you are supposed to combine everything to make certain points.
    Do you find this to be true of the Christians that you know and of some of your students?

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:02 pm

      That’s right — people need to be educated, otherwise they are … uneducated. And yup, it’s true of most Xns I know including my students, until I give them some assignments so they see for themselves that the Gospels can’t be reconciled. (I don’t have to tell them: I just have them compare passages in detail and they say — Oh!)

  6. Jerry September 13, 2023 at 10:39 am

    I remember reading “The Life of Christ in Stereo” in the early ’70s too. All the Gospels were greek-combined with what the author called “minute sublimentation.” Somehow in that book, none of the greek was thrown out as all four Gospels were combined. Back then, I was impressed. Right now, it seems silly.

  7. giselebendor September 13, 2023 at 10:58 am

    Is the existence of different Gospel versions akin to the Documentary hypothesis of the HB?

    There are different accounts of so much of the text there! Different persons’ and cities’ names ( with the scribal “harmonizing squad” immediately dealing apologetic midrash, as in Jacob/Israel or Avram/Avraham) , and entirely different versions of events such as in the Creation story.

    The Gospels seem so much more consistent in comparison. Needless to say, I totally agree with the points you make.

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:04 pm

      A bit different. When someone combines the Gospels into one account, that’s more like the Documentary hypothesis. If you didn’t have the four Gospels themselves, you’d have to separate which bits came from which account (as with the Pentateuch)

  8. kellygene63 September 13, 2023 at 11:23 am

    I’ve always believed the Bible was flawed from very young age, nothing made much sense just simple things, like after flood how did animals cross oceans that can’t swim of fly. And if god can write the 10 commandments in stone, why couldn’t miracle working jesus write his message clear and preserved in stone without corruption or human bias influence flaws or create paper and pencil lol. Why didn’t Jesus or his disciples do something useful for humanity like cure cancer of starvation with there magic powers. Didn’t the text say whatever you ask for shall be given. There to much evil history based of religion to list. Religion couldn’t understand the earth circles sun, they put galileo under arrest for it.

  9. petfield September 13, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    Mr. Ehrman, are you aware of any thorough psychological analysis that has been published dealing with why people persist there are no contradictions in the Bible? I would certainly be very interested to read that.

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:06 pm

      I don’t know of any off hand, but it would not be difficult to show how cognitivie dissonance resolved by the support of a community plays a big role.

  10. Theokaos September 13, 2023 at 1:17 pm

    Back when I was in second grade, I had to do Bible classes, and they of course taught the life of Jesus, but they tried really hard to harmonize all the Gospels because they were fundamentalists, and it led to some hilarious results. One example:

    The Resurrection

    Mary Magdalene, the virgin Mary, and the other women went to the tomb, and then there was an earthquake, and an angel come and rolled away the stone (but the women didn’t see this). They only saw the empty tomb. Mary Magdalene saw it and ran away. The other woman went closer and saw an angel sitting on the stone and he says the normal speech, but the women doubt and decide to check inside the tomb where they see TWO MORE ANGELS who say the exact same speech. The woman run to go to the disciples just as Mary Magdalene comes back with Peter and John. Then the women on the road see Jesus, and then Mary Magdalene later sees Jesus as she’s crying in the garden.

    As wild as this version, it doesn’t even succeed in harmonizing everything (Matthew said Mary Magdalene saw Jesus on the road). It’s just funny.

  11. VerdantChief September 13, 2023 at 2:10 pm

    Bart, aren’t all the major Christian denominations guilty of doing this? They take as fact all of the books of the New Testament, even the parts where there is a discrepancy?

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:07 pm

      There are no denominational *requirements* to do this, and many churches in many denominations don’t do it. I was trained in a Presbyterian seminary, and the classes there — teaching future ministers of the church — definitely did not take that approach.

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:07 pm

      There are no denominational *requirements* to do this, and many churches in many denominations don’t do it. I was trained in a Presbyterian seminary, and the classes there — teaching future ministers of the church — definitely did not take that approach.

  12. fishician September 13, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    Years ago I saw on C-span the author Garry Wills talking about his book, What The Gospels Meant. I got the book and read it, and realized the value of reading each gospel on its own, rather than trying to mash them together as I had been doing. Very enlightening to be free of the need to harmonize everything. Then I stumbled onto your books, and continued my journey away from fundamentalism. Now I look back and wonder how I could have maintained such a rigid and unrealistic view of the Bible for so long.

  13. nanuninu September 13, 2023 at 3:18 pm

    But it is no good using the tongs of reason to pull the Fundamentalists’ chestnuts out of the fire of contradiction. Their real troubles lie elsewhere. Garrett Hardin

  14. Rscupin September 13, 2023 at 3:35 pm

    Bart. I was raised Catholic went to a Catholic elementary school, participated as an altar boy and choir boy, and then went to a Jesuit high school for a couple of years. Today, I consider myself an agnostic/theist similar to the way you describe yourself. I began to question my faith in my teens especially when studying historical matters like the Reformation in my undergrad college years. My question is whether the Catholic scholars in the Vatican or in the Jesuit academies are ignorant of the type of critical scholarship like your own on the Bible and NT? Some may be, but I would think the Jesuits and many others are aware of the contradictions and inconsistencies in the NT and Bible. But are they afraid of discussing these matters with congregants and Catholic audiences because they might become lapsed? Is there a critical historical seminary within Catholicism that is like the Princeton Theological Seminary with thinkers such as Bruce Metzger who are Christians but pursue critical scholarship of the NT and the Bible? Have any Jesuit scholars and other Catholic scholars approached you with sympathy for your views?

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:38 pm

      Good question. Since Vatican II, critical scholarship has become very important within Catholic biblical studies. Some of the very best historical critics of the past 50 years have been ordained Catholic Priests (teaching, of course, in institutions of higher learning), including Raymond Brown and John Meyer. But a lot of the scholarship hasn’t trickeled down to the regular folk — as is true, of course, in Protestant circles as well. Most pastors who are trained to know this kind of material are reluctant to pass it along to the “innocent flock.”

  15. brenmcg September 13, 2023 at 4:56 pm

    I think Luke and Mark have changed Matthew’s voice at the baptism to harmonize the testimonies regarding who Jesus is

    Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱός μου – “you are my son” (God)
    Σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστός – “you are the christ” (Peter)
    Σὺ εἶ ὁ χριστὸς ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ εὐλογητοῦ – “you are the christ the son of the blessed one?” (chief priest)

  16. TSwJ September 13, 2023 at 6:55 pm

    Hi, Dr. Ehrman! Thanks for the article.

    Some scholars, such as Jeff Miller, Ph.D., of Apologetics Press, attempt to reconcile the apparent contradiction of the day on which Jesus died by claiming the following four points:

    (1) The Last Supper in John’s Gospel is portrayed as occurring “before the feast of the Passover,” implying it was not the Passover meal but a separate meal.
    (2) John 18:28, which mentions the Jews not eating the Passover, might refer to the continuation of the Passover festival rather than the specific meal.
    (3) John 19:14’s “Preparation Day of the Passover” is understood as referring to Friday during Passover week, aligning with the Synoptic Gospels.
    (4) Jesus being the Passover Lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7 is explained by distinguishing between private and public Passover sacrifices.

    Are these reasonable objections? Is it fair to question whether or not the Last Supper really was the Passover meal based on the translation of the phrase “supper being ended” in John 13:2 as “during supper”?

    Thank you!

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:43 pm

      1. Yes, that’s right. It’s a meal eaten the evening before the Passover meal (unlike Mark, where it’s the Passover meal, eaten a day *after* the meal mentioned in John). 2. I dont understand what that means. The passover hadn’t happened yet if Point #1 is correct. 3. No — it’s not the day of preparation for the Sabbath but the day of preparatoin for the passover — that is, the day on which the passover feast is being prepared (to be eaten that evening). Jesus dies the day *before* the meal in John. 4. There weren’t any private Passover sacrifices. Do you know what he’s referring to?

  17. Thunderball September 14, 2023 at 1:04 am
    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:46 pm

      Ah. In 1971 I hadn’t heard of that!

  18. SnowFire September 14, 2023 at 1:52 am

    I will say that the cross-Gospel “syncretism” of the later Church didn’t always go wrong. I think combining Matthew’s Magi with Luke’s Shepherds in the resulting nativity narrative works out pretty well, for example – baby Jesus is attended to by both the most humble and the educated, both locals and foreigners. It’s not in any one gospel, but the new, combined mega-gospel account is better than the two individual accounts.

    (And if someone was trying to write the founding myth for a new religion today, I’d certainly hope it’d be one that included a veritable United Nations of attendees to the New Big Boss, rather than exclusionary one where only the select few are saved!)

  19. J.J. September 14, 2023 at 8:49 am

    So do you think that’s what Mark did with the two stories of feeding thousands? : – )

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:50 pm

      In that case he appears to have heard two versions of the story and so included them both as separate stories. That phenomonenon is called a “doublet” (the telling of the same story in different words twice).

  20. Stephen September 14, 2023 at 1:08 pm

    Someone should produce an anthology that collects all the ways determined apologists have attempted to reconcile Bible contradictions. You could have sections on the nativity narratives and the resurrection narratives. Some of the ones I’ve seen are quite clever and imaginative as well as, uh… labyrinthine.

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:51 pm

      It would be a big book.

  21. Seeker1952 September 14, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    I agree with you.

    But mustn’t there be at least a few examples of things that are in only one gospel that are at least plausible candidates for going back to the historical Jesus?

    Obviously this runs afoul of multiple attestation.

    I think in your books you at least suggest that the parable of the sheep and goats may go back to the historical Jesus despite only being in Matthew.

    Could you indicate what a couple others might be?

    In general it does seem plausible that one account could include something that’s not in another. Nothing can be literally comprehensive.

    I do agree that the examples you give seem quite tortured.

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 3:53 pm

      Yes, absolutely. The fact something is mentioned in only one source doesn’t mean that it can’t be historical! I think the parable of the good samaritan is historical, e.g.

  22. jonas September 15, 2023 at 9:29 am

    I’ve seen some evangelicals do some interesting contortions trying to harmonize the two different creation stories in Genesis 1-2 as well. What did God create first? Mankind, or plants and animals? Ummm….

  23. Oudeis September 15, 2023 at 10:37 am

    I remember trying to do this when I was a teenage evangelical convert 40+ years ago. Of course the Bible had no contradictions! I had learned Greek and Latin in school, and bought a Greek text lining up the Gospels for comparison. The demoniac/s and the swine? It happened twice! Or the second demoniac just wasn’t mentioned by Mark! And so on.

    I wanted so badly to prove the “modernists” wrong that I went to University to study Classical and Biblical languages. It took only 6 weeks of Hebrew to realize the “modernists” were right and that “Biblical inerrancy” was unBiblical. A crushing realization. I persisted with my faith for another year.

    An atheist in my second year, I still took a BA Hons majoring in Aramaic and Ancient Greek. Then I went into IT, unable to face reading the NT for years. Until now.

    I recently retired and am again interested. I wanted to find out what’s happened in the last forty years, and eventually found you, your podcasts, courses, books and blog. It’s like finding Aladdin’s Cave! Great stuff! I really appreciate what you’re doing!

  24. mrgkyle September 15, 2023 at 3:12 pm

    Dr. Hugh Ross, the famous atheist astrophysicist turned Christian does exactly that, harmonizes. I follow both of you. I would love to see you debate with him someday. He actually critiques you on his website here. Some points I’ve never seen; like his reference to Irenaeus. I would love to see a response to that someday!

    • BDEhrman September 16, 2023 at 4:03 pm

      If you’ll mention one of his key arguments, I’m hhappy to respond. Most astrophysicists are not trained in early Christian writings. 🙂

      • mrgkyle September 16, 2023 at 6:42 pm

        Okay, here is one and I quote him “The belief that the Bible misquoted Jesus is historically unsustainable. Irenaeus in his book, Against Heresies, published in 180 AD, stated that the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke were in written form at the time that Peter and Paul were in Rome. Peter and Paul were in Rome 60–68 AD. Irenaeus also wrote that the Gospel of John was written by John the disciple while John was living in Ephesus, sometime near the end of the first century. Papyrus fragments of the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Matthew have been dated to the early part of the second century.1 These early dates for the four New Testament Gospels are so near the actual events that any misquote or forgery would have been immediately noticed and corrected by eyewitness contemporaries. The fact that there is no historical record of called-out mistakes or corrections to the four Gospels by contemporaries of the gospel writers testifies to the accuracy of Jesus’s quotes within them.”

        • BDEhrman September 18, 2023 at 2:22 pm

          So the argument is that if someone a hundred years later, living in a different part of the world says the books were written by the followers of Jesus and that means they must have been? Is that the kind of argument we find compelling today? And that if an account of Jesus’ words and deeds were written by an eyewitness some 50-60 years after Jesus’ death we can therefore trust that it is accurate? What do you think? If you didn’t have any written accounts of, say, Jimmy Carter’s inaugural address in 1977, but you did hear it at the time, and you wrote it down today from memory, do you think there’s a good chance you’d get it completely right? (As to no one claiming at th etime that the Gospels we have are accurate, how many authors do we have who mention our Gospels at the time? None. The first one to mention them by name as matthew, mark, luke, and John is in fact Irenaeus, a century after they were circulated.)

  25. bsteig September 15, 2023 at 9:13 pm


    We should remember that the Gospels themselves don’t claim to be inspired by God — that declaration was made later by early Christian leaders. Luke wrote at the beginning of his document that he had been hired to put together a coherent story using what ever source material he could find. He probably created much of the text himself in the process. None of the writers had accurate source material.

    I have accepted this and am happy simply believing Jesus was inspired to preach, and said things that were “along the lines of” what is in the first three Gospels. He went too far in some words and in at least one action, and paid the price. Maybe he believed God was sure to intercede and save him from being killed. If so, he was wrong. None of this has anything to do the God I believe in. We all live and eventually die, and then ?? But we also know from the research conducted at the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies that many — maybe all — of us return via reincarnation. God gives another chance to “get it right.”

    Bill Steigelmann

  26. Tomos September 16, 2023 at 7:48 am

    Hi Doctor Ehrman know in this article you talk about how to look for contradictions in the Bible objectively without amalgamating all the gospels together and thus losing the individual emphases and points of the individual authors themselves. But was wondering if you had any advice on how when you were a Christian you were able to analyse the evidence for Christianity (in a broader sense) without coming to a biased conclusion clouded by you pressupositions. The reason I ask this is I as an Evangelical myself am genuinely seeking to find the truth whether that be in Christianity or Atheism or even something like Buddhism (just a random example) but don’t know how to do that without putting my biases aside (and even then making sure I’m not giving too much leeway to the opposing side) and on top of all that trying to come to a conclusion when there’s just so many different things to consider like the problem of suffering or the reliability of the Gospels or whether the ressurection even took place etc?
    (Sorry for such a huge question!)

    • BDEhrman September 18, 2023 at 2:06 pm

      It’s a great question. My view is that you simply look at any claim (for example: the birth narrative in Matthew contradicts the one in Luke in a couple of places), see why some people say it’s true (there *is* a contradiction) and see why some say it’s not (there is *not* a contradiction) and see which side has the better argument *without* leaning toward the one you’ve always been taught or simply assumed was true. You don’t have to make global decisions at once. Just do the same thing repeatedly with all the “problems” with the faith, one at a time, with no rush to make a small or large decision. That’s what I’d suggest anyway.

      • Tomos September 18, 2023 at 2:38 pm

        Yeah that sounds like a good idea as I have a tedency to look a too many things at once when I probably should take it one step at a time thanks for the advice!

      • mrgkyle September 18, 2023 at 3:39 pm

        I gave you a layup 🙂 Thanks for everything you do. You have opened my eyes in my new look at the Bible as a skeptic. It all started with my need to reconcile the absurdity of a fiery eternal hell. It ain’t there! Thanks again….

  27. TimOBrien September 16, 2023 at 5:31 pm

    “The reason people do this [quadrophonic gospel mash-up] is because the Gospels – separate books – come to us as a collection within the same covers as *one* book.”


    You began this post by recounting the far more convincing reason from your very own, exegetical journey. They do it because they’d rather get fitted for a crown of thorns than recognize the absurdity of their “Bible Inerrancy” doctrine.

    Propounding the bizarre (arguably idolatrous 😳) idea that a manmade object has an attribute — perfection — that belongs to God alone pretty much says it all. Anyone who believes there’s such a thing as a magic book can imagine anything between the covers.

  28. TimOBrien September 16, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    Re: Dept. of Redundancy Dept.

    While different pronouncements by the “voice from heaven” at the baptism or the final tally on the “Peter’s Denials” scorecard might be rationalized away by multiplying incidents like loaves and fishes, how does this far-fetching resolve the difficulties John created by relocating the “Cleansing of the Temple” to the beginning of Jesus’ ministry?

    The synoptics claim (undoubtedly, correctly) that it was in disrupting commerce during the busiest selling season of the year that Jesus incurred Sadducee wrath — prompting his arrest by the Temple guard and eventual execution by the (undoubtedly, skittish) Roman procurator.

    The last gospel, however, is equally unambiguous that it was Pharisees who determined to eliminate Jesus — because he raised Lazarus from the dead. They saw in him a “man performing many signs” and feared that: ”If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him.”

    So that means that the Sadducees and Pharisees conspired to eliminate Jesus — but for entirely *different* reasons.

    Is that refrain I hear playing softly in the background the doleful sound of the Harmonica Virgins? 😉

  29. Hal September 16, 2023 at 6:15 pm

    This technique was maybe most brilliantly deployed by some influential fellow deliberating on whether this Jesus guy was truly man or truly God.

    Thank you as always Dr. Ehrman

  30. Steefen September 27, 2023 at 8:47 pm

    Steve Campbell, author of Historical Accuracy
    The second edition of my book or my next book about the historical accuracy of the Bible must include Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet by Bart D. Ehrman.

    At Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin in Mark’s gospel, Jesus boldly states to the high priest, “You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” That is, the end would come and the high priest would see it.

    Matthew 10:28
    Some of you will not taste death before you see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.

    Luke changes Mark, no longer predicting the high priest will be alive to see this.

    The gospel of John debunks the notion “there will be a resurrection of the dead” voiced by Martha, sister of Lazarus. Jesus contradicts her at John 11:25.

    This is partially why the resurrection of Lazarus does not appear in Matthew, Mark, and Luke which cannot repeat John: do not expect the resurrection of the dead because I am the resurrection.

    No judgement means God does not have to delegate judgement to Enoch or Jesus.

    Yes on #1 and #2?

    • BDEhrman October 1, 2023 at 6:00 pm

      YEs on #1. #2, I don’t think there’s much reason to think the others had heard the story.

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