I would like to announce a major public debate that I will be having with the well-known conservative evangelical apologist Mike Licona on the resurrection of Jesus. The title is “Did the Resurrection of Jesus Really Happen? Two Bible Scholars Debate the Evidence.” It will be held remotely on April 9th from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 pm EST.
The debate is not directly connected with the blog but is my own thing, done in conjunction with the courses I’ve been recording for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services. There will be a charge for the event. Some of the profits will be redirected to the blog, and blog members will get a discount (see below).
If you have any interest at all, check out the video below.
And if you want to learn more or sign up, here is the link: https://www.bartehrman.com/debate/
For now: more on the debate.
If you are attentive to numbers, you will notice that this debate will be an all-day affair. Seven hours. Pray for my soul! On the upside (for you especially) there will be breaks throughout, including a lunch break.
Debates are almost always frustrating for me, for a number of reasons. One is that it is flat-out *impossible* to build a case for a position in the brief time allotted. If a debate is an hour and a half and I basically have 20 minutes to present my case, ten minutes to give a rebuttal, 20 minutes for Q&A, and then a short closing – it just isn’t enough time. This time there will be enough time to cover LOTS of ground, and I’m not expecting to be repeating myself. Mike and I have debated the topic before, but not like this.
Some of the issues that will come up:
- Did ancient people understand miracles the way we do, as events that violate natural laws — laws that, unlike traffic laws, really cannot be broken? (Think: The laws of thermodynamics)
- If ancient people understood miracles differently, would they have seen anything inherently implausible about a resurrection? Not a Near Death Experience, but a resurrection, where a person is restored to life never to die again?
- Are the Gospel accounts of the resurrection consistent or confused?
- Are these the kinds of accounts (whatever one concludes about their consistency) that historians would typically trust – written decades later by believers who have heard stories about the event told by others who firmly believed in them?
- Are the accounts based on eyewitness testimony? If so, does that mean it can be trusted? If not, where did the information come from?
- Jesus is reported to have been seen by groups of people at once. If these were hallucinations – how does a group have a hallucination?
- If the disciples actually saw Jesus, why do so many of our sources indicate that some (many?) of them doubted? What’s to doubt, if he’s standing right in front of you?
- If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, how can we explain the firm conviction of his followers – and then his own brother! – that they saw him alive afterward?
- Is the resurrection the sort of thing that can be proved the way, say, a scientific claim can be?
- Do historians make room for the supernatural in their attempts to reconstruct the past? If not, should we make an exception for religious events since they are by their very nature not natural?
- That is to say, if supernatural events have happened, they would be part of history, no? So shouldn’t they be susceptible to historical demonstration just like everything else in the past?
As you can see, these are different kinds of issues with wide-ranging implications, and many of them are highly significant for the study of Jesus, the New Testament, and the history of early Christianity. Mike and I disagree on all of them.
Interested in seeing us thrash it out? Here again is the link: https://www.bartehrman.com/debate/
To receive $5 off the admission prices as a Blog Member discount, use BLOG5.