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Discrepancies That Pay Rich Dividends

This will be the last post in the hiatus I have been taking from responding to Craig Evans’s critique of my view of Jesus’ burial.  I had thought this hiatus would be one, maybe two posts; but as often happens on this blog, once I get going on something I realize that I have to say more — or else what little I have to say will not make much sense.  So my couple of posts have turned into four, all on the question of whether the historical-critical approach that I take to the Gospels is “trashing them,” as a lot of people seem to think, or if, instead, it is a valuable tool for understanding what these books really are – literary attempts to teach important theological lessons about Jesus based on stories about his life – rather than what they are not – historically accurate, objective biographies of the things that Jesus said and did.

In the last post I argued that the two portrayals of Jesus going to his death in Mark and Luke are radically different, and that recognizing this radical difference is of utmost importance for understanding what each author is trying to say.   The in-shock, silent Jesus of Mark, who is betrayed, denied, abandoned, and mocked by everyone, who wonders at the very end why God himself has forsaken him, simply is not the same as the calm confident Jesus of Luke, who knows God is on his side, who understands what is happening to him, and who knows what will happen to him after it happens to him: he will wake up in paradise.

A deeper understanding of each Gospel seeks to understand the portrayal of Jesus found in each and every one of the Gospels, but also asks what each account is actually trying to *teach* by making that kind of portrayal.  This is where matters get more speculative, and this is where both theology and preaching start getting interesting.  I realize (oh so well) that I am no longer theologically driven or involved with preaching, but to conclude this hiatus-of-a-thread, I do have to say what I think each account is trying to say.

Let’s imagine – it’s not much of a stretch of the imagination, actually, even though there is not concrete evidence behind it – let’s imagine that each of these Gospels is written to Christians who are experiencing real suffering in their lives.  Possibly it is a difficult persecution.  Possibly it is the animosity of friends and family and neighbors and co-workers and everyone else who is opposed to their new-found faith in Jesus.   Or possibly it is hardship in the world that seems unbearable.   Suppose both Mark and Luke, writing at different times (say 15 years apart) in different parts of the world, are both confronted with some such situations.   Why would they portray Jesus going to his death the way they do?

Here’s what I think.  You’re welcome to think something else!

Mark’s Jesus…

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Did Pontius Pilate Respect Jewish Sensitivities?
Why the Critical View of the Gospels Matters Theologically/Religiously

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Comments

  1. cjcruz  July 16, 2014

    I’m convinced that the people who continue to insist that you are “trashing” the gospels do not read your books carefully. You go out of your way in your books and on your blog to positively shower believers with respect. You make your intentions known time and time again to the point that it feels redundant.

    I do appreciate this fact because it enables me to share your writing with my evangelical friends and family without any fear of offending them. Still, my old pastor used to say, and far I know still does, when he saw a particularly nasty thought on the Bible, “That sounds like something Bart Ehrman would write.” That was his form of dismissal. Sorry if that saddens you because it certainly saddens me.

    Care to speculate as to why not only lay people, but so many of your colleagues fail to see points you go out of your way to make so clear and why your motives are so disproportionately suspect?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 17, 2014

      I suppose it’s easier to attack alleged motives than serious arguments!

    • Gary  March 1, 2015

      Fundamentalists (and many evangelicals) believe that a (good) ghost lives inside them and gives them special powers to see “true” reality as the Creator of the Universe sees it. This “true” reality is hidden to everyone else. In fact, fundamentalists believe that an (evil) ghost controls and manipulates all non-believers and blinds them from seeing true reality.

      Therefore, fundamentalist Christians believe that Dr. Ehrman is controlled by an evil ghost/spirit. This evil ghost has caused Dr. Ehrman to hate God, to hate Jesus, and to hate all that is righteous and good. This is why Dr. Ehrman speaks out against Christianity as he does. This evil ghost has convinced him (wrongly) that the supernatural claims of the Bible are false, especially the claim of the Resurrection of Jesus. Dr. Ehrman will never see the true reality until he first repents of his many sins and believes in Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Once Dr. Ehrman (or any other hell-bound sinner) repents and believes, the good ghost will enter him and reveal to him the true reality which only it can reveal to human beings: that the Bible is 100 % inerrant, that the universe was created in six, literal, twenty-four hour days, and that a first century dead man really did walk out of his grave, ate a broiled fish lunch with his fishing buddies, and then levitated into outer space, to one day return to earth riding on clouds…as its King and Lord…

  2. danielkurtenbach  July 16, 2014

    I wholeheartedly agree that the historical-critical approach to the Gospels is crucial, but I see the reason that you give — to understand the Gospels as literary attempts to teach important theological lessons — as an important, but secondary reason for the historical-critical approach. Of course, what I see as the primary reason matters much more to believers: To establish that the many varieties of Christian belief are founded on certain incidents and statements that have a high probability of being historically true. For example —
    – A man
    – named Jesus
    – lived
    – in Palestine
    – in the first decades of the Common Era.
    – He preached about a coming Kingdom of God, what it would be like, and how a person can become part of it.
    – He gathered followers.
    – He was condemned to death
    – for a crime related to his theological message
    – and was executed by crucifixion.
    – His followers subsequently came to believe that he had come alive again.
    Christianity’s power is that it is not _all_ myth and legend; there really was a guy named Jesus whose life and death kicked off something (perhaps not what he intended) that changed the world. If we can be pretty certain that those minimal elements are historically true facts, then we can happily indulge in the real fun of figuring out what it all means.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 17, 2014

      Yes, I agree with all these historical claims (that was the point of my book Did Jesus Exist?)

      • danielkurtenbach  July 17, 2014

        Sorry, I haven’t caught up with all of your books yet, but I have listened to most of your Teaching Company courses, some of them multiple times!

        It seems to me that the historical-critical approach to the Gospels can significantly strengthen faith. Yes, that approach may expose discrepancies, contradictions, and fabrications in the Gospels, and thereby shoot gaping holes in various Christian teachings. But on the other hand, that approach may also affirm the (probable) historical accuracy of statements and events in the Gospels on which other Christian teachings are built. In effect, the historical-critical approach can take us back to a position much like that of the earliest Christians, unburdened by two thousand years of theology, heresy, art, reformation, and church bureaucracy. They heard simple stories told about a man who had lived among them — and they believed.

        • prestonp  September 27, 2014

          I wholeheartedly agree that the historical-critical approach to the Gospels is crucial, but I see the reason that you give — to understand the Gospels as literary attempts to teach important theological lessons — as an important, but secondary reason for the historical-critical approach. Of course, what I see as the primary reason matters much more to believers: To establish that the many varieties of Christian belief are founded on certain incidents and statements that have a high probability of being historically true. For example —
          – A man
          – named Jesus
          – lived
          – in Palestine
          – in the first decades of the Common Era.
          – He preached about a coming Kingdom of God, what it would be like, and how a person can become part of it.
          – He gathered followers.
          – He was condemned to death
          – for a crime related to his theological message
          – and was executed by crucifixion.
          – His followers subsequently came to believe that he had come alive again.
          Christianity’s power is that it is not _all_ myth and legend; there really was a guy named Jesus whose life and death kicked off something (perhaps not what he intended) that changed the world. If we can be pretty certain that those minimal elements are historically true facts, then we can happily indulge in the real fun of figuring out what it all means.

          It seems to me that the historical-critical approach to the Gospels can significantly strengthen faith. Yes, that approach may expose discrepancies, contradictions, and fabrications in the Gospels, and thereby shoot gaping holes in various Christian teachings. But on the other hand, that approach may also affirm the (probable) historical accuracy of statements and events in the Gospels on which other Christian teachings are built. In effect, the historical-critical approach can take us back to a position much like that of the earliest Christians, unburdened by two thousand years of theology, heresy, art, reformation, and church bureaucracy. They heard simple stories told about a man who had lived among them — and they believed. danielkurtenbach

          Except, there is no reason to believe what you accept as fundamental truths about christianity when you trust “criticism”. The techniques and the scholars that use and rely upon them to expose discrepancies are themselves unreliable.

    • prestonp  October 6, 2014

      “If we can be pretty certain that those minimal elements are historically true facts, then we can happily indulge in the real fun of figuring out what it all means.”

      Lifting the minimal elements that are historically true facts from the accounts of his life is a challenge. But, ultimately, it all means that there is nothing to any of it. It must boil down to an astonishing complex mix of lies, distortions, tom-foolery and half-baked attempts to make an obscure boob into something he never was. If all we can deduce from these stories about this guy is the minimum you describe, spending time trying to decipher the rest of it leads nowhere, by definition.

  3. Matilda  July 16, 2014

    This makes so much sense. I love the clarification you give. I think the historical aspect is all important and puts things in a more realistic perspective. Still, I’m glad I’m an agnostic. It is just too hard to try to put a square peg in a round hole like so many religious people try to do with their interpretations of the Bible. One begins to wonder who the real Jesus really was. The poor man has so many different identities. I think he’d be shocked to see what has become of him.

    • prestonp  October 6, 2014

      “This makes so much sense. I love the clarification you give….It is just too hard to try to put a square peg in a round hole like so many religious people try to do with their interpretations of the Bible. One begins to wonder who the real Jesus really was.”

      Who was he?

      • prestonp  November 3, 2014

        Indeed. Many excel in shedding layer of skin after layer of skin but almost no one can say who he was. “It is just too hard to try to put a square peg in a round hole like so many religious people try to do with their interpretations of the Bible. One begins to wonder who the real Jesus really was.”

        If you don’t know who he was, how can you say it’s just too hard to put a square peg into a round hole?

  4. TomTerrific  July 16, 2014

    Thanks for these four essays.

    I really got a lot out of them.

  5. Atethnekos  July 17, 2014

    This is off-topic, Professor, but I thought you could use it when people suggest in debates with you that your views are relatively ample attention:

    $800 million (!) museum about the Bible in Washington, DC from Steve Green who says, “Discovery after discovery supports the accuracy of this book,” he said. “The book we have is a reliable historical document.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/us/politics/family-that-owns-hobby-lobby-plans-bible-museum-in-washington.html

    Here’s one interesting claim:
    ‘“You’re talking about landmark acquisitions,” Mr. Carroll said, referring to items such as a nearly complete book of Psalms on papyrus and the earliest recordings of the New Testament in Jesus’ household language of Palestinian Aramaic.’

    Syriac has turned into Jesus’ very own Palestinian Aramaic now?

  6. Wbmfishman  July 17, 2014

    Very enlightening. Gave me a lot to ponder tonight.

  7. Hana1080  July 17, 2014

    I too regret simplistic and fundamental accusations of “trashing” … when has legitimate questioning, analysis and surgical-like well balanced exegesis become “trashing”?

  8. RodolfoL  July 18, 2014

    Dear Prof. Ehrman — I am intrigued by your comment that the rending apart of of the Temple curtain was a a sign of the extension of access to God for Jew and Gentile alike as I find that somewhat counter-intuitive, at least as I read the Gospel of Mark. Mark contains the exclusionary story of Jesus’ cursing of the Canaanite woman and does not include the more inclusionary later stories of Jesus healing the Roman soldier’s servant or of the good Samaritan. Luke certainly has a universalist message, while Mathew has always struck me as somewhat schizophrenic in this regard. The statement of the Roman centurion at the crucifixion I’ve always interpreted simply as an acknowledgment by a gentile of the great power of Jesus and the Jewish God. Do you believe I am reading the Gospel incorrectly? Does modern scholarship believe Mark was written by a Jew or a gentile?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 18, 2014

      I’m not sure what you mean by the cursing of the Canaanite woman. In any event, the confession of the Centurion is almost certainly meant to show that now, finally, someone realizes that Jesus is the son of God who must suffer death. The disciples, who realize that he’s the messiah, never *do* understand that this is what it means for him to be the messiah.

      • RodolfoL  July 19, 2014

        Dear Prof. Ehrman — Pardon if I did not make myself clear. I was referring to Mark 7:24-30, the episode in which Jesus refers to the Canaanite woman as a dog and states that he was “sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” I was referring to the passage to inquire into your argument that the rending of the temple curtain in Mark was meant to symbolizing the availability of God to Jew and Gentile alike. Geza Vermes seems to argue, on the contrary, that Mark, unlike the future Gospel writers, saw Jesus as preaching exclusively for Jews and that “the genuine core” of the Gospel of Mark “contains no mention of Jesus’ disciples among the Gentiles – Mark 13:10 and 14:9 are surely inauthentic – but that event makes its appearance in the patently later longer ending where the apostles are enjoined, ‘Go into the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation'” (“The Changing Faces of Jesus,” p. 168). I take it you would disagree with this interpretation of Mark?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  July 19, 2014

          Ah, yes. He doesn’t actually curse the woman — he actually heals her daughter. Although he is puzzlingly rough on her. My view is that Mark is trying to explain that even though Jesus’ salvation goes to the gentiles, during his ministry he restricted himself to Jews. That’s probably right, historically. But Mark “knows” that after Jesus’ death the message of his salvation went beyond the Jewish realm, and so the healing of this girl and the centurion’s declaration both point in that direction.

      • Rosekeister  July 19, 2014

        Is Mark a “response” gospel responding to then current teachings of Jesus as teacher and Messiah, teachings similar to Q type stories? The structure of the narrative seems designed to show that it is the gentiles that understand Jesus properly while the disciples never do. Q type material in Mark often includes editing that the disciples did not understand Jesus. If the disciples did eventually recognize Jesus as the gentile understanding of the title Son of God, that would be the natural and triumphant ending along with Peter’s resurrection experience. Mark however very conspicuously and intentionally shows the gentile centurian recognizing Jesus’ status while the disciples flee and the woman leave without telling anyone of the empty tomb. So in 75 CE was Mark writing in response to Galilean and Jerusalem originated teachings that did not have a high enough form of Christology?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  July 19, 2014

          Often Mark and Q are understood to present contrasting views of Jesus, Mark as one that emphasized the importance of his death for salvation, Q as one that stressed the importance of his teachings. I think the passages about disciples not understanding are not Q but Markan (if I’m understanding your question aright)

      • prestonp  October 6, 2014

        His disciples never did understand that he as the messiah had to die?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 6, 2014

          According to the Gospel of Mark, no.

          • prestonp  October 6, 2014

            pete, matt, john, bartholomew, tom, etc. never understood that jesus was the messiah who had to die?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 7, 2014

            Not in Mark’s Gospel.

          • prestonp  October 16, 2014

            His disciples never did understand that he as the messiah had to die?

            According to the Gospel of Mark, no. Dr. Bart

            I think the person who wrote mark knew beyond a doubt that the disciples knew he rose from the dead.

  9. drdavid600  July 18, 2014

    Believers are writing you that arguments such as how historically unlikely it is that Jesus was crucified and buried the same day trashes (impoverishes) the gospels. Meanwhile you see a loss for the gospels as literature that believers try to smooth out their differences into one great transcript of what happened decades before they were written.

    Can’t everyone be telling the truth of their own perspective here? Most believers see Jesus as trash if he was merely a man, a false apocalyptic prophet who not only gave his life for his love of God, but suffered greatly for it as well. They likewise see all the gospels as trash if those gospels are merely pumping up the story of a human Jesus in any direction, literary greatness be damned.

    Is it only the non-believer who can say the truth is valuable no matter what it is?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 18, 2014

      Yes, absolutely, each person sees truth from their own perspective. Bill O’Reilly sees it one way; Bill Clinton a different way. The key is to figure out whom you agree with, and why.

  10. madmargie  July 20, 2014

    I have a retired Methodist minister friend who says every time he tried to bring these various discrepancies to the attention of his congregations, he was moved to another congregation. He says congregations generally do not want to be disquieted by controversy about the differences in various gospels. They don’t want to deal with the “questions” . Instead they prefer “answers”.

  11. bradseggie  July 30, 2014

    In your view, given that you believe that Mark was the earliest gospel, do you think it might be more historically accurate? That is, do you believe that the historical Jesus believed God would intervene to save him, was surprised when it didn’t happen, and cried out something to the effect that God had forsaken him? Or do you believe this was all literary invention?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 31, 2014

      I do think that it has more historically reliable material in it, on average, than the other Gospels (especially John); but that doesn’t mean that all its traditions are historically reliable. Each one has to be judged very carefully. I do think the tradition of Jesus’ surprise and cry of dereliction are literary invention, not historical.

      • prestonp  August 1, 2014

        “I do think the tradition of Jesus’ surprise and cry of dereliction are literary invention, not historical.” Dr. B.

        Of what significance is it then? Why do the literary inventions or imaginations/creations of Mark and Luke matter? If their goal is to communicate important spiritual lessons that are based on some guy’s life, why not tell us who he really is, first?

        I’m a slow learner, Dr.!

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  August 1, 2014

          Many many people think that “truth” is not restricted to what happened in the past. Novels can be true. Poems can be true. Plays can be true. Lots of things can be true that didn’t happen.

          • prestonp  October 6, 2014

            Truth may not be restricted to what happened in the past, but what isn’t truthful about the gospels?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 6, 2014

            WEll, there are historical mistakes, geographical errors, and internal discrepancies, for starters!

          • prestonp  October 7, 2014

            “WEll, there are historical mistakes, geographical errors, and internal discrepancies, for starters!” Dr. Bart

            The showbread during David’s visit to the Temple in the days of Abiathar?

            Hal Lindsey’s prediction of a 40 year deadline for the second coming beginning with the 1948 recognition of an Israeli state?

            Some standing here shall not taste death until his return?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 7, 2014

            Abiathar is a mistake. The others are based on interpretations. But there are lots and lots of mistakes. See my book Jesus Interrupted for some of them.

          • prestonp  October 8, 2014

            “Abiathar is a mistake. The others are based on interpretations. But there are lots and lots of mistakes. See my book Jesus Interrupted for some of them.” Dr. B

            The showbread during David’s visit to the Temple in the days of Abiathar?

            “Abiathar is a mistake.” Dr. B.

            You know the alternative explanation, I’m sure. ” Just as there were log cabins in Lincoln’s day?” I think it makes sense.

            I thought you refer to TLGPE as an example of evidence of man’s inability to “hear” what god is saying even though he has convinced himself otherwise, which you discuss as you explain your growing awareness of the n.t. fallibility?

            I haven’t found a single example, Dr., of anyone who sounds like Christ and I’ve been looking. (My library charges $2.50 every time I listen to your CDs! Well worth it except I’m notorious for returning items years even decades late. Lt. Bookman told me last time, “you better not screw up again preston, because if you do, I’ll be all over you like a Pit Bull on a Poodle.”

            That is one tough monkey.

            is on my trail.)

  12. prestonp  July 31, 2014

    Luke has a different approach to suffering. His Jesus does not feel abandoned, forgotten, and forsaken (which is why Jesus does not cry out “My God my God why have you forsaken me” in Luke… Dr. Ehrman

    This may be the reason; however, to form this conclusion based on a concept that what we have here is, “Luke’s Jesus” I think is inadequate and unfair. To be realistic, Jesus felt what he felt. He was a human being subject to feeling the full range of human emotions. As he matured, he would learn to cope with his feelings. When necessary, he could set his face like a flint to accomplish his raison d’tre. While he cried out in agony, questioning his God and pleading for his manifest presence, he remains as he was–dying in disgrace, still committed and enabled with precious awareness that he was crossing the goal line, winning the prize. Like us, he felt pain, and at times joy, and peace and love; and he also willed himself to do what he decided to do.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 31, 2014

      I’m not asking what the historical Jesus really felt and did and said — I’m talking about how he is portrayed in Luke. That’s a very different thing!

      • prestonp  July 31, 2014

        “I’m not asking what the historical Jesus really felt and did and said ” But Dr. Ehrman, isn’t that the entire reason we study what these men wrote? I am confused.

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  August 1, 2014

          No, they were not historians. They were Evangelists.

          • prestonp  August 1, 2014

            They weren’t “historians” does not mean they could not and did not present historic information accurately. One can be an evangelist and accurately convey what took place in the past.

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  August 2, 2014

            Yes indeed! The question is whether they did.

  13. prestonp  August 1, 2014

    these books really are – literary attempts to teach important theological lessons about Jesus based on stories about his life – rather than what they are not – historically accurate, objective biographies of the things that Jesus said and did.

    How are we to grasp the important theological lessons about Jesus without depending upon the accuracy of what was described?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 1, 2014

      Maybe not everyone in the ancient world had the modern view that historical accuracy is what determined truth. (In fact, they did not!)

      • prestonp  August 1, 2014

        Dr., I hope I’m not coming across like a wise guy or in a disrespectful manner. I am confused by your answers. I appreciate your efforts to help and I have begun reading about higher criticism, textual criticism, etc. to become educated in this field. So far, it is kind of fascinating and a little over the top.

        “Criticism” strikes me as an interesting way to establish, at all costs, how the new testament is not inspired, not really a big deal, while simultaneously demanding all the resources known to man to do so, which in itself suggests it is not corn-beef! You know what I’m saying? If it isn’t a big deal, it isn’t a big deal. No need to pour our lives into proving it.

        Yet, the reasons for pursuing this field of literary study, we are told, are to learn the spiritual lessons of Christ’s life as the writers originally intended. Isn’t this substantially different than the literary interests say of Shakespearean scholars?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  August 2, 2014

          My view is that criticism is not necessarily against the inspiration of the NT. But it *is* against certain *theories* of inspiration. Most NT scholars are Christians; most of them think that in *some* sense the Bible is the Word of God; and most of them accept the critical approach to it.

          For more on higher criticism, I’d suggest you start with my book Jesus Interrupted.

      • prestonp  August 1, 2014

        Maybe not everyone in the ancient world had the modern view that historical accuracy is what determined truth. (In fact, they did not!)

        Yet, we can say, just as legitimately, maybe some did. And it isn’t merely a modern view. Truth is truth. Historical inaccuracy doesn’t determine accuracy, either. Jesus spoke in parables or stories to reveal truth in a special way. Whether or not “the stories” were historically accurate, the point was the truth or meaning behind the story. Understood. But aren’t there differences between these forms of relating the truth and the gospels? Parables of parables doesn’t work.

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  August 2, 2014

          I think the problem is that you have a modern, post-Enlightenment view that equates truth with historical accuracy. Most people have never seen it that way, even though it is the modern “common sense.”

    • prestonp  August 2, 2014

      Did Jesus give the sermon on the mount? Any part of it?
      How did the gospel change the lives of people to the point where many died instead of forsaking the one they loved? They could have simply denied him.
      Why use a literary style which wouldn’t be recognized for centuries? Did they collaborate?
      is it not possible that there are errors and the bulk of what they wrote is historically accurate? That the errors do not change the thrust of the message taken from a literal point of view whenever possible?
      Is it impossible he was the son of god, and that he said and did basically all we are told and when asked, he will enter into our lives as a divine entity?
      What are the odds that several people wrote so many similar things about someone, if not based on historical facts, and that hundreds of millions would testify to the same types of experiences, separated by millennia and vast distances, upon meeting this god depicted in the accounts we have?

      • Bart Ehrman
        Bart Ehrman  August 2, 2014

        Too many questions! I’d suggest one, at most two, a day. There’s only one of me!!

        • prestonp  August 6, 2014

          “By comparison, Luke’s version sounds hopelessly truncated.”

          Maybe to us and even so, it doesn’t necessarily follow that a scribe added his own thoughts to make it harmonize does it? Not a formal question. Just an example of food for thought.

          I’m not sure how we are justified defining some of these differences as “discrepancies.” We can account for differences, which don’t necessarily prove there were discrepancies, I think.

          Oxford Origin
          early 17th century: from Latin discrepantia, from discrepare ‘be discordant’, from dis- ‘apart, away’ + crepare ‘to creak’.

          Men and women are different and both are human beings

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  August 7, 2014

            I would say that they are not contradictions, but the two portrayals are at odds with one another (if Jesus was deeply anxious and didin’t understand why he had to go through with this or why God had forsaken him, it is at odds with the view that he was not at all anxious and did understand why he had to go through with it, and did not think God had forsaken him.) I would call “being at odds” “discrepancies.”

          • prestonp  August 8, 2014

            if Jesus was deeply anxious and didin’t understand why he had to go through with this or why God had forsaken him, it is at odds with the view that he was not at all anxious and did understand why he had to go through with it, and did not think God had forsaken him.) I would call “being at odds” “discrepancies.”

            If he was a man and god it makes sense.

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  August 8, 2014

            If he were portrayed *both* ways in one of the texts, that would make some sense; but he is portrayed one way in one text and a different way in the other text.

        • prestonp  October 5, 2014

          “Too many questions! I’d suggest one, at most two, a day. There’s only one of me!!” Dr. B

          Did Jesus give the sermon on the mount?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 5, 2014

            Probably not. If he did it’s very strange that it’s mentioned in only one of the Gospels, and that the sayings of Matt 5-7 (which is the Sermon) are scattered throughout Luke (they are Q material).

          • prestonp  October 7, 2014

            “Probably not. If he did it’s very strange that it’s mentioned in only one of the Gospels, and that the sayings of Matt 5-7 (which is the Sermon) are scattered throughout Luke (they are Q material).” Dr. Bart

            Why do you believe he probably did not give this sermon besides not being in mark and john, and being Q material?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 7, 2014

            I think I already answered that one.

        • prestonp  October 6, 2014

          How did the gospel change the lives of people to the point where many died instead of forsaking the one they loved? They could have simply denied him.

  14. prestonp  August 8, 2014

    “These verses are absent from some of the oldest and best witnesses, including the majority of the Alexandrian manuscripts.” Metzger

    According to Bart D. Ehrman (1993) these two verses disrupt the literary structure of the scene (the chiasmus), they are not found in the early and valuable manuscripts…

    “From some” is quite different than, “they are not found…”

  15. prestonp  August 19, 2014

    Bart Ehrman
    if Jesus was deeply anxious and didin’t understand why he had to go through with this or why God had forsaken him, it is at odds with the view that he was not at all anxious and did understand why he had to go through with it, and did not think God had forsaken him.) I would call “being at odds” “discrepancies.”

    If he was a man and god it makes sense.

    Bart Ehrman August 8, 2014

    If he were portrayed *both* ways in one of the texts, that would make some sense; but he is portrayed one way in one text and a different way in the other text.If he was a man and god it makes sense.

    Jesus was portrayed as he really was in each of the four gospels. When a man is about to be crucified, we can assume he’s not thrilled. If we say that there are discrepancies among the four accounts, we could be misperceiving what was intended. That is a possibility. Or. discrepancies may exist. That too is a possibility. We may have overlooked a potential explanation. How many times did Christ refer to his death and resurrection and only to get blank stares? Dogged determination, thorough examination and study are keys.

    To those standing there whom he promised would not die before he returned, remember this, “…whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:21-24).

    • prestonp  September 14, 2014

      Bart Ehrman August 8, 2014

      “If he were portrayed *both* ways in one of the texts, that would make some sense; but he is portrayed one way in one text and a different way in the other text.”

      Can’t he be just as he is described in each gospel? The writers were under no obligation to include everything they knew. Why can’t each account compliment the others AND be entirely separate and independent, and thus form a more complete and full expression of who Christ was? How does analyzing scripture like this detract from an honest and accurate interpretation?

      In reality, this is what we do have. If no one suggested how to interpret scripture, that’s how I would naturally approach it. As far as I know, there is no overriding scientific principle that requires using criticism to uncover the truth.

  16. prestonp  September 17, 2014

    They weren’t “historians” does not mean they could not and did not present historic information accurately. One can be an evangelist and accurately convey what took placein the past. pp

    Bart Ehrman August 2, 2014
    “Yes indeed! The question is whether they did.”
    The answer is you bet they did.
    “I think the problem is that you have a modern, post-Enlightenment view that equates truth with historical accuracy. Most people have never seen it that way, even though it is the modern “common sense.”” Dr. B.
    Many hundreds of millions for millenia have too. If we can pick apart what he did and didn’t say, we are in fact deciding whether or not the truth was conveyed. I equate truth with statements made about christ that accurately convey what he said, or not.
    “I would say that they are not contradictions, but the two portrayals are at odds with one another (if Jesus was deeply anxious and didin’t understand why he had to go through with this or why God had forsaken him–THAT description is absent the n.t.–it is at odds with the view that he was not at all anxious–When was he perfectly serene in the cruxifixaion passages?–and did understand why he had to go through with it, and did not think God had forsaken him.) I would call “being at odds” “discrepancies.”” Dr. B.
    I think the reality is obvious: he went to his death with terrible anxiety at times and with a measure of peace at other times. During part of his time hanging in hell, his purpose was clear and sustaining. Not always, though, because the agony clouded his ultimate vision– that one he had for us. He didn’t submit to hell for the heck of it. That is what love can do.
    Just like you and I would experience that horror, so did he. He was a man, perfectly, thoroughly, entirely, 100 percent. Beautiful women tempted him, just like they are tempting to us. In every way he knows what it is like to be one of us.

  17. prestonp  September 20, 2014

    By definition, (of the higher critics) jesus did not and could not read or write. Neither were the gospels and letters in the n.t. written by jewish folks. Josephus and Justus of Tiberias were the only Palestinian jews of the first century who could write, says Hezser.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 21, 2014

      Whose definition is that? Most higher critics think Jesus could read and many think he could write.

      • prestonp  September 24, 2014

        Dr Bart, how is it possible that most higher critics think Christ could read and many thought he could write? He was a first century jewish peasant from a Palestinian rural area.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 24, 2014

          It’s possible that Jesus could read, but scarcely possible, in my opinion, that he was writing-literate. Scholars who think otherwise tend to be scholars who have not read the scholarship on the question.

          • prestonp  September 27, 2014

            How could he read? He was a non-urban peasant.

          • Bart
            Bart  September 28, 2014

            It’s an interesting question. My guess is that his local rabbi taught him. But I’m open to suggestions.

          • prestonp  September 30, 2014

            “It’s an interesting question. My guess is that his local rabbi taught him. But I’m open to suggestions.” Dr. Bart

            Why wouldn’t others from similar circumstances do the same? And, learn to write from them as well?

          • Bart
            Bart  September 30, 2014

            One or two may have. I have no reason for thinking though that this unknown rabbi knew how to write.

          • prestonp  October 2, 2014

            If he wrote in the sand the different sins committed by those trying to trap him, perhaps he knew how to write. Given that you believe that the story of the woman caught in adultery did not occur, this doesn’t advance the argument that he could read very far! If it was added to demonstrate how others tried to trap him, his solution was divine.

            C. S. Lewis was a phenomenal/scholar/author/apologist. He was blessed with wisdom and common sense. Just as none of your critics can say with confidence why you wrote this and left out that, no one can peer into the minds of those who penned the n.t. and with certainty determine their mindset.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 3, 2014

            the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery was not originally in the NT.

          • prestonp  October 5, 2014

            “the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery was not originally in the NT.” Dr. B.

            We don’t know that. It wasn’t in the oldest manuscripts of which we are aware, but there are older manuscripts than these that we don’t have that may have contained this extraordinary passage. It fits perfectly with the rest of his teachings, doesn’t it? Grace is what he extended to us.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 5, 2014

            You might want to read the scholarship on that one. Even the conservative evangelical textual critics I know agree the story was added. There really is not a debate about it among scholars.

          • prestonp  October 5, 2014

            BTW, isn’t this the reason he sacrificed his life? To atone for our sins so that instead of requiring the two caught in adultery be stoned to death, he, himself, bore our sins (he was stoned in their place) and was the perfectly acceptable “punishment” to father-god, allowing them and us to go free?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 5, 2014

            That’s theology — which is fine. But I’m not doing theology here. I’m talking about history.

          • prestonp  October 7, 2014

            The curtain was ripped in half and a centurion grasps that jesus was god. Mark portrays god working in the background during times of intense suffering even when his presence isn’t felt. Suffering christians, therefore, may likewise be confident that all is not lost when it seems god has forsaken them. True. Perfectly accurate description of christ.

            (Even though jesus never claimed to be god in mark’s gospel.)

            “Only in the latest of our Gospels, John, a Gospel that shows considerably more theological sophistication than the others, does Jesus indicate that he is divine. I had come to realize that none of our earliest traditions indicates that Jesus said any such thing about himself. And surely if Jesus had really spent his days in Galilee and then Jerusalem calling himself God, all of our sources would be eager to report it. To put it differently, if Jesus claimed he was divine, it seemed very strange indeed that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all failed to say anything about it. Did they just forget to mention that part?” Dr. Bart

            How many times should he have acknowledged he was god?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 7, 2014

            Once would have been enough. But he never does in Matthew, Mark, or Luke. Why is that? Did they just forget to mention it?

          • prestonp  October 8, 2014

            Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven Matthew 7:21

            For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

            Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
            Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

            “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

            That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.

            42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

            He calls himself the son of man frequently in a context of being god, no?

            But you know these verses and many more which are used to refute your claim and yet you are unmoved. You firmly believe the synoptics don’t proclaim Christ’s divinity. What am I missing?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 9, 2014

            Yes, you are missing something. I think if you’ll read my book you’ll see my views. The Synoptics do think of Jesus as divine. But they do not portray him explicitly teaching that he is God. (in contrast to John)

          • prestonp  October 10, 2014

            “if Jesus claimed he was divine, it seemed very strange indeed that Matthew, Mark, and Luke all failed to say anything about it. Did they just forget to mention that part?” Dr. Bart

            “Anything about it…” With each miracle he shouted who he was. (He was despised because he did miracles on holy days!) With each healing, with each corpse returned to life, by walking on water, through commanding the winds and the seas, for fasting for 40 days as evil personified assaulted him, trying to use the scriptures to seduce him, the beatings he took, the mocking, his willingness to die a horrible death, to be “mocked” and rejected by his dadgod, to watch his mother watch him suffer and die slowly, in excruciating agony, when he could have ended it instantly. They, those who loved him even unto their own deaths, knew he was god and did their best to tell everyone who would listen that for a brief moment in time, god was present on this earth and that he loved us and that he died so that we could be his friends

          • Bart
            Bart  October 11, 2014

            So Moses was God because he did miracles? And Elijah (who raised the dead!)? And Elisha? And Peter? And the other apostles?

          • prestonp  October 13, 2014

            “It is a brilliant story, filled with pathos and a clever twist in which
            Jesus uses his wits to get himself — not to mention the poor woman —
            off the hook.” Dr. Bart

            Who the heck could have thought up that one? Who would have? And why? The Pharisees never denied this happened that I know of. Writing this about a group of people who could have you crucified in a heartbeat was nuts if untrue. If it was true, it took tremendous guts.

            Isn’t this an example of a theology supporting textual criticism, as you interpret it?

          • Bart
            Bart  October 13, 2014

            I don’t see how someone couldn’t have thought it up. Someone did!! I don’t know what you mean that Pharisees never denied this happened. Which writings of the Pharisees are you thinking of? Do we have any writings of the Pharisees? Do we know what any particular Pharisee ever thought? And why would forgiving an adulterous cause someone to get crucified???

        • prestonp  October 13, 2014

          “So Moses was God because he did miracles? And Elijah (who raised the dead!)? And Elisha? And Peter? And the other apostles?” Dr. Bart

          “If I had not done among them works which none other did…”

          “Here he comes down from “Word” to “work,” and indicates the lower agency, that of works, which are neither inoperative nor valueless, and which transcend all other similar deeds. They are works of the Son of God, works of creation and of healing, triumphant conflict with the forces of nature and the malice of the devil, of a kind which may be compared with, but which exceed all human and angelic ministry. They had not had sin, but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. The works as well as the words of Christ might have softened their hearts, but the Divine claims, which were thus pressed home upon the conscience, provoked their malice. “They took counsel to kill him;” “They took up stones to stone him.” They hated God as God, and goodness and truth just because they were goodness and truth. The awful condemnation is here pronounced, “that men loved darkness rather than light.” They positively saw their Father, and hated him. This is the most terrible condemnation that can be pronounced on moral beings.” Pulpit Commentary

          “I don’t see how someone couldn’t have thought it up. Someone did!!” Dr. Bart
          “One or two may have.” Dr. Bart

          The one or two recorded it, imo.

          “If I had not done among them the works,…. This is another, and a new argument, evincing the inexcusableness of their ignorance, and infidelity, and sin, taken from the works that Christ did; such as healing the sick, raising the dead, giving sight to the blind, causing the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear, and the lame to walk, cleansing lepers, and casting out devils; which were clear proofs, and full demonstrations of his deity, and of his being the true Messiah:
          and which none other man did; in his own name, and by his own power; and which none of the men of God ever did; as Moses, Elijah, Elisha, or others; and particularly that of giving sight to one that was born blind: now if these works had not been done among them, openly, visibly, and publicly,
          they had not had sin; or so much sin; or their sin of unbelief would not have been so great, or attended with such aggravating circumstances; or they would not have been guilty of the sin against the Holy Ghost, as many of them were; who saw his works and miracles, and were convicted in their own consciences that he was the Messiah, and yet rejected him, against all the light and evidence which the Spirit of God gave by them, and by whom Christ wrought his miracles:
          but now have they both seen; the works which were done, and the Messiah, whose mission from the Father they proved;
          and hated both me and my Father; for their rejection of him as the Messiah, notwithstanding the doctrines he taught, and the miracles he wrought, plainly arose from obstinacy, malice, and inveterate hatred against Christ, and against the Father that sent him.” Gill

  18. prestonp  October 6, 2014

    How could he read? He was a non-urban peasant.

    “It’s an interesting question. My guess is that his local rabbi taught him. But I’m open to suggestions.” Dr. Bart

    Why wouldn’t others from similar circumstances do the same? And, learn to write from them as well?

    “One or two may have. I have no reason for thinking though that this unknown rabbi knew how to write.” Dr. Bart

    I guess you have reasons to believe unknown rabbis most likely did not know how to write? (How old were you when you learned how to read and write? I contend that reading and writing were/are not difficult to learn. Though written artifacts from peasants of that time may be unavailable, that by no means proves they could not write as Hezser maintains.)

  19. prestonp  June 19, 2018

    What others believe is a mistake, others find nothing of the kind. “Abiathar is a mistake”

    The Shiloh Excavations
    When Jesus spoke and Mark wrote of David’s visit to the Temple for showbread, the text says that this visit occurred “in the days of Abiathar.” That phrase does not necessarily imply that Abiathar was holding office at the time. Abiathar was an influential high priest in his day — even more so than his father. So it is not unusual that Jesus may have used him as a reference point even before he actually became high priest. David’s visit occurred during the time of Abiathar, although it did not occur during the tenure of Abiathar as high priest.

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