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Gospel Evidence that Jesus Existed

In yesterday’s post I began to show how Jesus is the best attested Palestinian Jew of the first century, if we look only at external evidence (Josephus is better attested because we have his own writings) (and in response to several questions/comments, I’m not including Paul because I’m talking only about Jews from Palestine; he was from the Diaspora).  We have four narrative accounts of Jesus’ life and death, written by different people at different times and in different places, based on numerous sources that no longer survive.  Jesus was not invented by Mark.  He was also known to Matthew, Luke, and John, and to the sources which they used (Q, M, L, and the various sources of John).   All of this within the first century.

This is not to mention sources from outside the New Testament that know that Jesus was a historical figure – for example 1 Clement and the documents that make up the Didache.  Or — need I say it? – every other author of the New Testament (there are sixteen NT authors altogether, so twelve who did not write Gospels), none of whom knew any of the Gospels (except for the author of 1, 2, and 3 John who may have known the fourth Gospel).    By my count that’s something like twenty-five authors, not counting the authors of the sources (another six or seven) on which the Gospels were based (and the sources on which the book of Acts was based, which were different again).

If there had been one source of Christian antiquity that mentioned a historical Jesus (e.g., Mark) and everyone else was based on what that source had to say, then possibly you could argue that this person made Jesus up and everyone else simply took the ball and ran with it.  But …

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Jesus, the Law, and a “New” Covenant Lecture
The Gospels and the Existence of Jesus

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    rburos  October 28, 2016

    There’s a corollary to bilingual populations telling jokes in both languages. My Norwegian grandparents, my German friends, and even my Mexican neighbors like to tell stories but interrupt the flow with curse words in English. Sometimes it’s humorous, and there is a real art to doing it well, but behind it is a serious blending of two cultures.

  2. Avatar
    Judith  October 28, 2016

    “…on God’s green earth…” Delightful the way you used that there.

  3. talmoore
    talmoore  October 28, 2016

    “I’m not including Paul because I’m talking only about Jews from Palestine; he was from the Diaspora”

    Ah…fair point. I guess Philo would also fall into this category, if we wanted to get technical.

    For me there’s one theme throughout the NT that absolutely destroys any hypothesis for a mythical Jesus, and it is, ironically, the very notion of the resurrection itself. Now, I don’t believe the resurrection happened. I think Jesus died, stayed dead and eventually returned his atoms to the earth as every living thing has done throughout the history of life on earth. However, I do think that his followers believed Jesus had resurrected, and that’s primarily because the actual doctrine of the Mass Resurrection of the Dead was a part of contemporaneous Jewish beliefs, not pagan! It’s not like it never occured to any Jew up until Jesus that the dead could be resurrected. Within the Gospels it states that the Pharisees themselves held this view — moreover, Jesus has a contentious debate with Sadducees over the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead *as if this was a common belief amongst Jews at the time*! So, no, the idea that Jesus could rise from the dead was not even remotely seen as far-fetched to contemporaneous Jews. The problem that other resurrection-believing Jews — such as the Pharisees — had was with the idea that Jesus was the “first fruits” of the Mass Resurrection of the Saints that heralded the Messianic Age. In other words, the early church was going around preaching that Jesus’ death and resurrection was evidence of the impending Mass Resurrection before Judgment Day. But how could Jesus’ resurrection be evidence of that sort *unless Jesus was, himself, a flesh and blood human being who had physically died and resurrected*? That is to say, the very message the early church was trying to spread was that an actual flesh and blood human being Jesus was physically killed and came back to life, just as will happen to ALL the dead with the coming Mass Resurrection before the Day of Judgment. This central core of the early Christian mission completely falls apart if Jesus was never an actual human being who lived on earth who no one had ever seen in the flesh! Ergo, Jesus must have been, at some point, an actual flesh and blood human being who walked the earth.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2016

      Yup, I definitely would include Philo as better attested.

      Interesting point.

  4. Avatar
    Wilusa  October 28, 2016

    Even this, without what I know are your two main points (one of them mentioned briefly here), should be enough to convince anyone who doesn’t have a totally closed mind. I’m wondering: how much were you able to fit into a 30-minute presentation?

  5. Avatar
    rivercrowman  October 28, 2016

    Bart, the dying words of Jesus (Mark 15:34 and Matt 27:46) ask God why has he been abandoned. Both Gospels include Aramaic at this particular point. Is it possible that the historical Jesus (as a Jew) was familiar with Psalm 22:1 (My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?) and spoke these words in anguish from his memory of scripture — or was it these two Gospel writers who attributed the words to him. … I kind of prefer the ending myself.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2016

      I think it is very highly unlikely that anyone was standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross to record what they heard him say. The Gospel writers have put Ps. 22:1 on his lips, in my view.

      • Avatar
        Wilusa  October 30, 2016

        Wow. For some reason, I’d never thought of that!

      • Avatar
        fabiogaucho  November 1, 2016

        One question I always had: The sentence is recorded in the gospel in Aramaic. But the Psalm, I assume, was in Hebrew. Does it read the same in both languages, since they are similar? Or did the Gospel author create an Aramaic “translation”?

        • Bart
          Bart  November 1, 2016

          I think the idea is that since he spoke Aramaic, this is something that he said, reflecting Psalm 22:1, rather than quoting the verse per se.

      • Avatar
        godspell  November 1, 2016

        But then you are begging the question to end all questions–why would they do that?

        Everything else he’s recorded as saying, sure.

        But that? I hold with the school that says if he wasn’t known to have spoken those words, they wouldn’t be in there–and in fact they aren’t in the two later gospels, because they conflict with the image of Jesus Luke and John wanted to convey.

        Far as I can see, we don’t know enough about what went on at crucifixions to know what’s likely or not. Obviously people attended them–public executions are public for a reason. And morbid curiosity was as much of a thing then as it is now. Not hard at all to believe some of Jesus’ followers were present. Granting that his voice couldn’t have carried far, and he couldn’t have said much at all once the rigors of crucifixion had set in, he could have spoken. And people who loved him would have tried to be as near to him as possible, to render what comfort they could, and to hear his last words.

        You know, there are people in this world–right now–who have been voluntarily crucified as an act of religious devotion. There’s a man in the Philippines who has done it over 20 times (he’s going for 27). It’s not like we have to speculate as to whether a crucified man could speak. You could ask one.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 1, 2016

          They would do that to show that he was fulfilling Scripture, as they often tried to do.

          • Avatar
            godspell  November 1, 2016

            It was written in the scriptures that the Messiah would be forsaken by God?

            Jesus may have been consciously quoting scripture, but in a despairing anguished way. Or perhaps his words were not directly quoting that passage (how many people in how many cultures have said words to that effect across the millennia?), and that was retroactively used as a way of explaining his lament.

            But if he hadn’t said something along those lines, it wouldn’t be in there. Because it tells us this is a man–not a god, not even a man like a god. Just a frightened sorrowful confused human being, who believed something miraculous would happen if he put himself in this position–and it’s not happening. And God isn’t speaking to him now (as he probably did believe God had done in the past). His inspiration has deserted him. And that’s as good a term for God as I know of.

            He was known to have said these words, and they could not blot them out–quite possibly the last words he ever spoke. But neither could they deal with the full import of those words, dealing with the shock of his execution, and the visions of a resurrected Jesus that came on its heels. So they tried to frame it in a different context. As Christian clerics later tried to reframe what Josephus said about Jesus (leading to accusations of them having made it up entirely), but what Josephus wrote was still true.

          • Bart
            Bart  November 2, 2016

            No, it’s definitely not written that way. The point is that Jesus by quoting Scripture is being shown as a fulfillment of them. He was anticipate. Christians *DID* think the Scripture predicted a suffering messiah.

          • Avatar
            godspell  November 3, 2016

            I’m not convinced the ‘Suffering Servant’ is the Messiah, if that’s what you’re referring to–it may well be what Jesus saw himself as fulfilling. But suffering is one thing. Doubting is another. Jesus is never depicted as having any doubts at all of his mission, until the very end. The gospels are all quite consistent about this. He’s shown as doubting his mission when he asks God to let the cup pass him by, and he doubts when he finds his disciples sleeping, and that final cry of anguish is the supreme expression of doubt.

            The other things attributed to him fall nicely into the Suffering Servant meme, but not this. This is a man questioning his entire life, everything he ever believed. Christian theologians have spent centuries trying to explain it away, and they’ve all failed.

            With great respect, I must say that you’re failing in the same way, albeit with a different slant.

  6. talmoore
    talmoore  October 28, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman, from what I understand you only agreed to do the debate with Price if the organizers donated a specific amount of money to your charities. Was that the case? And if so, how much did they raise?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 29, 2016

      No, that’s not quite the way it happened. When I explained my speaking fee to them I told them I kept it at that level because my fees went to charity. So they just paid me my normal fee — they didn’t raise any money for charity. Not their interest!

  7. VaulDogWarrior
    VaulDogWarrior  October 28, 2016

    The independent sources bit went over my head a little. The Aramaic bit I got. You said all the Gospels have independent source material. Do they all have independent Aramaic source material?

  8. Avatar
    Hume  October 28, 2016

    Keep rockin in the free world Bart!

  9. TWood
    TWood  October 28, 2016

    When you say “none of whom knew any of the Gospels”—is that primarily due to the fact that they don’t mention the gospels or is it due to the fact (like with Paul) that they wrote before the gospels were written? In other words, is it mostly a content issue or a dating issue?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 29, 2016

      Maybe I should say “none of whom shows any evidence of knowing the Gospels” or “none of whom bases their views on the Gospels.”

  10. Avatar
    mjt  October 28, 2016

    Are there any individual pieces of evidence that mythicists make, that you find compelling?

    And you may not want to answer this one…do you think very highly of Richard Carrier as a historian? I ask because I’ve listened to his arguments against the resurrection, and they sound pretty compelling, but I realize my limitation as a non historian for evaluating such evidence.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 29, 2016

      No, I don’t find any of their evidence compelling.

      I think for Richard Carrier to establish a reputation as a good historian would require him to produce scholarship in the field of ancient history, publishing books with major university presses and articles in major refereed journals, instead of devoting himself entirely to showing that Jesus never existed.

      • Pattycake1974
        Pattycake1974  October 31, 2016

        I know better, but I read Carrier’s review of the debate. It’s like a bad car wreck when you know you should turn away but look anyway. Of course, it’s as long as a novel. He went point by painstaking point.

        I commented a couple of days ago that mythicists, in general, are fallacy hunters. When I read Carrier’s review, my opinion was validated even more. He pointed out at least a dozen or more fallacies which I think is in and of itself fallacious thinking. I have a pet peeve about pointing out fallacy after fallacy and not because things like making a circular argument shouldn’t be brought to attention, but when every thought that comes into someone’s head is accused of being a fallacy, it’s a problem. Identifying a fallacy (ex. non sequitur) in conversation doesn’t make the discussion invalid. All it means is that someone placed a label on a person’s thinking, but that doesn’t mean the label is correct or a trump card that ends the conversation. Some people (Carrier) are so hung up on identifying these fallacy labels that they can’t distinguish fact from fiction or right from wrong.

        On to another topic, Carrier and Matt Dillahunty have both expressed their displeasure with needing the proper credentials in order for mythicism to be taken seriously. They’re not the only ones who were annoyed by what was said in the debate. Carrier pointed out that at least one of his publications was peer-reviewed and it seems to drive him bananas that you won’t acknowledge it. That part is funny, but still. What I got out of what you were saying is different from what some have taken it to mean. What I heard was that having the appropriate credentials means educational rigor, thorough research, vetted ideas, and peer reviewed work. This is what Carrier (and some others) heard:

        “But Ehrman’s answer to one question was disturbing: when asked what evidence it would take to change his mind, Ehrman responded by not mentioning any arguments or any evidence. He responded essentially by saying that when someone prestigious enough, who has a fancy enough university appointment, tells him it’s plausible, then he’ll change his mind. When pressed after the debate on this, he doubled down. He would never state any evidence, any reasoning, that would ever change his mind. Only the prestige of whose opinion it is would ever persuade him.

        Seriously?

        Ehrman basically thus said that his field does not do evidence-based reasoning. It only does prestige. Basically, if you don’t teach at Oxford, you can go fuck yourself.”

        Could you possibly address this further on the blog? Also, not everything he wrote was negative, but the connotation wasn’t helpful. For what’s it’s worth, I don’t think it’s personal. It’s just how he is.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 1, 2016

          Yes, Carrier appears to have misunderstood what I was saying about credentials. I’ll address the issue at length in a post. (But does he really want to brag because he has a peer-reviewed article? Isn’t publishing peer-reviewed articles simply what scholars *do*??)

          • Avatar
            bbcamerican  November 2, 2016

            I’ve practiced martial arts for years, and there has always been an observation that is bandied about in the MA community revolving around “high kicks” to the head of an opponent. The observation is that when someone says, “I don’t think ‘high kicks’ would be useful in a real fight,” what they really mean is, “I can’t kick that high.”

            I’m sure this thought passes through your mind every single time you hear this argument, Dr. Ehrman, but isn’t it funny (actually sad) that the only people who rail against the need for objective professional qualifications are those who don’t possess them? You never hear someone who has the educational training and professional experience in any professional field saying, “You know, you really don’t need all this experience and training. Anyone could do what I do.”

          • Bart
            Bart  November 2, 2016

            Ha! Good point.

        • talmoore
          talmoore  November 1, 2016

          Mythicists tend to be nit-pickers, and Carrier is the king of nit-pickers. I find it a shame to have to state the obvious, but it appears my hand is forced.

          1) Pointing out fallacies in your opponent’s argument can be worthwhile, but it’s important to note that just because your opponent has some fallacies to nit-pick doesn’t mean your opponent is factually wrong. It’s actually possible for an argument to be riddled with fallacies and still be factually correct, as well as it is possible to be factually wrong and be totally airtight and completely free from fallacies. In other words, attacking fallacies is merely a method of exposing the truth, not establishing it.

          2) It’s totally possible that a scholar can get his or her work peer-reviewed and accepted into respected journals — and that research is still wrong! Counterfactual conclusions are published in academic journals all the time. That’s why it’s dangerous to merely accept a bit of research simply because it’s been peer-reviewed and published. The true test of whether a bit of research is on to something is if a flood of corraborating research follows in its wake. (In the scientific fields this includes replicated experiments that duplicate the original results and/or additional models that confirm those results.) One test that is often used to determine if a study is on the right track is to see how often that study gets cited. If you go to a journal database, such as JSTOR, they will often allow you to see how many times an article has been cited in other studies. The more an article is cited, the more likely it is that the researcher was on to something worth citing, which strongly suggests that other academics are convinced by it. Meanwhile, those papers that sit languidly in the database, never being read or cited, are much less likely to have uncovered something significant, much less true. Carrier’s work falls within the latter category.

          3) It’s sad but true that to be taken seriously in academia it helps to be credentialed. It’s simply human nature to take people more seriously when they have initials after their names. That doesn’t mean that an amateur or outsider can’t contribute to a specific discipline. For example, while Albert Schweitzer had a degree in theology, he wasn’t a religious historican by profession, but was, instead, a physician and musician by profession; however, Schweitzer still managed to contribute much to the research into the historical Jesus (as even Bart himself says he was heavily influenced by Schweitzer’s work), while being effectively an outsider to academia. Meanwhile, there are plenty of “outsiders” who are hacks and conspiracy theorists who have no business contributing to a field of study. In other words, it’s a mixed bag. Sometimes you get an Albert Schweitzer. Sometimes you get a David Fitzgerald. (For the record, I would like to think that I, myself personally, am somewhere within the Schweitzer mold, but I’m well aware that I might be more like a David Fitzgerald. When you’re outside academia it’s hard to get a sense of how seriously people take your ideas.)

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  November 2, 2016

            Talmoore,
            I completely agree with all 3 points. As for credentials, I need to have trust in the person sharing knowledge and information, especially when it comes to biblical topics. I think it’s natural to gravitate toward someone who has a PhD because I know that means the person has taken the time to engage in a higher level of learning.
            That being said, I’ve known some pretty dumb people with PhDs. And I’ve known some very intelligent amateurs. I’ll read pretty much anything recommended to me if its a topic of interest, but I go in knowing full well that if it’s something written by a non-expert, I will take that into consideration while reading it.

          • Pattycake1974
            Pattycake1974  November 3, 2016

            That probably wasn’t clear! I don’t seek out work by non-experts, but if someone feels a book or article or blog post is worth reading and recommends it to me, I’ll read it. There’s a few on here that will refer to something they’ve written, and if there’s a link, I’ll read it. I usually don’t comment, but I’ll read it.

      • Avatar
        fabiogaucho  November 1, 2016

        In a lecture about his book “On the Historicity of Jesus” he said words for the effect that it was published by an “academic” publisher (or “major”, I don’t remember), Sheffield Phoenix Press, and that the book was “peer-reviewed”. Is this claim legit? I don’t know anything about the reputation of this publisher, and I don’t know how strictly he used the term peer-reviewed.

  11. ZekePiestrup
    ZekePiestrup  October 28, 2016

    Always elucidatingly awesome!

  12. Avatar
    puzzles  October 28, 2016

    Bart, you said that the majority of scholars in your field are Christians and that you considered yourself to be a liberal Christian for many years while you were also a scholar. How ridiculous is it to maintain faith in a somewhat orthodox version of Christianity while also being a scholar – in comparison to Robert M. Price’s faith in mythicism? What is the probability that God resurrected the body of Jesus and took Him to heaven in comparison to the probability that whatever Robert M. Price claims is true?

    When you were a Christian, were you fooling yourself or simply in an intermediate state in your journey to atheism? Sometimes I would like to be a Christian again, but I don’t know how an unbiased person can believe those things.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 29, 2016

      My view is that scholars can have a large range of theological views, that do not necessarily have to affect the products of their scholarship. I would say that a resurrection is not within the realm of the humanly possible; Price’s view is simply massively improbable.

  13. Avatar
    David  October 28, 2016

    Dr Ehrman,

    There was a time, many years ago, that I believed in some of the mythicist’s points of view. Thanks to you, and all you’ve written, I no longer do. However, it must be difficult going into these types of debates knowing that if Robert Price is actually right, your entire career would be pointless and irrelevant. I certainly don’t believe this, but it must have crossed your mind before?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 29, 2016

      ha! Never. In part because my career would still be completely intact. I think I’ll explain in a readers’ mailbag.

      • Avatar
        pueblo2  October 29, 2016

        In fairness to Carrier, he does have other work that is peer reviewed and not devoted to disproving the existence of Jesus (http://independent.academia.edu/RichardCarrier). He just came out with a small book, the first in of a two-part series on science education in the early roman empire (the second is to be focused on scientists in the early roman era). His review of the debate (http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11435) is that you won it hands down, though he credits that to Price’s poor performance as a debater. He also blasts some strange arguments that Price has, but he, Carrier, does not hold (i.e. all of Paul is forged and that no NT gospels were written before the 2nd century). Carrier explicitly states that he has escaped the academic tenure system prison though he agrees that peer-reviewed scholarship is required to advance historical knowledge. What would be useful for any fence-sitting mysticist/historicist layman type like myself would be for you to respond to Carrier’s review of the debate in which he makes arguments that he wished Price would have made.

        I understand and agree with your response to Zindler at the debate that you didn’t want to undertake an endless go around with all manner of hacks by replying to his tome, but Carrier’s principal work (minus the Bayesian terminology) does seem to meet the bar as at least credible scholarship. Even Carrier states that his arguments in On the Historicity of Jesus don’t require you to agree with him or even understand his application of Bayesian methods; they can be skipped altogether and his mythicist position is still fully presented.

        • Bart
          Bart  October 30, 2016

          Thanks, that’s helpful. I hope he can make a solid career of the rigorous historical work.

        • Avatar
          Tim  October 30, 2016

          “Carrier explicitly states that he has escaped the academic tenure system prison”

          That’s a typical Carrier spin on the fact that he failed to secure an academic job, after years of trying. So it’s kind of cute that he characterises it as him “escaping a prision”. It’s more like there was an exclusive club that didn’t want him to join despite repeated applications.

          “What would be useful for any fence-sitting mysticist/historicist layman type like myself would be for you to respond to Carrier’s review of the debate”

          If Carrier hadn’t repeatedly proven himself a fairly obnoxious human being, I’m sure Ehrman might bother. But he has noted his previous highly unpleasant exchanges with Carrier and why he doesn’t want to bother with such a person.

          • talmoore
            talmoore  November 1, 2016

            Yup, classic case of sour grapes.

  14. Avatar
    JohnMan  October 29, 2016

    Great post!

  15. Avatar
    Abaddon  October 29, 2016

    Hello. Thanks for posting. It’s a very cogent explanation of the four-document hypothesis (positing Luke & Matthew’s independent use of Mark, as well as Q, M & L). I imagine you would assign this theory a high level of probability (i.e. 9/10 or 90% likely to be true). Perhaps even higher? Conversely, how would you estimate the plausibility of the Farrer Theory (granting that Luke was aware of Matthew)? Would you say it has at least a 5% likelihood of being true, or maybe less? Have you, by chance, ever read or commented on Mark Goodacre’s “The Case Against Q”; or could you point me in the direction of a good refutation of his thesis? Thank you.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2016

      Yes, I’ve read it indeed. I don’t know of refutations. I myself thought it was the very best case anyone could make against Q, but I simply didn’t find it convincing. The so-called “minor agreements,” in my opinion, can be explained almost in every case in other ways (e.g., the accidental agreement in making a change of Mark’s account)

      • Avatar
        Abaddon  October 30, 2016

        Thanks for clarifying. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you may be more open minded to Q skepticism than you are towards mythicism. I don’t imagine you would put Q skeptics, like Mark Goodacre & Michael Goulder, in the same category as crank mythicists. So you may agree that the existence of Q is not as well established (with near certainty) as that of a historical Jesus. But if one grants that Luke may have been aware of Matthew, and if there are no compelling reasons why he couldn’t have been, there doesn’t seem to be the need for a Q source (or M & L) to explain the synoptic problem. Conversely, if one assumes that Luke could not possibly have been aware of Matthew, then there must necessarily have been a source like Q. And if Luke’s “minor agreements” with Matthew are best explained (“almost in every case”) by Luke’s accidental agreement in making changes to Mark; then the best arguments against the Farrer theory (to date) would seem to be an “appeal to possibility” and a (somewhat circular) “consensus fallacy” (argumentum ad populum). Since the assumption, that there are indeed multiple, independent attestations to Jesus’ life in hypothetical source texts, seems to be such a corner stone in historical Jesus studies, it should be incumbent on scholars to flesh out better arguments in defense of Q, L & M; especially if their existence is just assumed or posited as a universal consensus beyond a reasonable doubt.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 1, 2016

          Yes, I’m absolutely more open to the idea that Q did not exist. There is simply not the kind of evidence for Q that there is for a historical Jesus.

  16. Avatar
    davitako  October 29, 2016

    Hello Bart,

    I understand you don’t wanna hear much about Richard Carrier and I’m sure others also have submitted this to you, but he wrote a detailed analyses of your debate with Price: http://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11435

    Most people would agree with me that debate between you and Carrier would be far more interesting. He’s incredibly smart and, although not exactly a nice guy, it would be fantastic to see you debate him! We can only hope that happens.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2016

      Thanks. I’m afraid his comments reinforce my view that he is not a generous scholar. To say that I started out the debate to expose Bob Price as a Trump supporter is completely ridiculous. I was astonished to learn that he was. (I had never met Bob before, or had a conversation with him, before this debate.) My reason for asking the question is that I assumed a large part of the audience was. How wrong! In any event, I have no interest in spending my time debating mythicists. There are so many other interesting things to be thinking and writing and talking about!!

  17. ronaldus67
    ronaldus67  October 29, 2016

    Strong and objective information. In my opinion this is exactly why you are one of the best in the field!

  18. Avatar
    godspell  October 29, 2016

    I was particularly interested in what you said about the Aramaic term for Son of Man–I always wondered why Jesus referred to himself that way. I looked it up (can’t ask you to explain everything), and it’s fascinating–the very last thing Jesus was trying to do was make himself a God. Like all true mystics, no one was more aware than he of his own human weaknesses. The only way to exalt yourself is to humble yourself. It’s so obvious.

    So why do so many people miss it?

  19. Avatar
    Jana  October 29, 2016

    Thank you Dr. Ehrman for explaining that Jesus’s disciples didn’t leave records because they were illiterate. Is there any indication that Jesus too was illiterate? He, too, left no writings.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2016

      There’s nothing substantial to suggest he could write. Whether he could read or not is a fairly open question. (He reads in only one passage of the NT: Luke 4)

  20. Pattycake1974
    Pattycake1974  October 29, 2016

    Wow, I didn’t realize that we had so many independent sources for the existence of Jesus. Do you think it made a difference for the mythicists to meet you in person and see for themselves that you actually do know what you’re talking about?

    I spoke briefly with Dr. Price about the Markan fragment and asked him if its dating would make any difference in his viewpoint if it is found to be from the first century. He basically didn’t believe paleography could tell us much about its dating. So then I asked him about the reliance of carbon dating, and that was a *no* as well.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 30, 2016

      I’m not sure!

      On the Mark fragment: it sounds like he’s saying that he won’t change his mind even if there is absolutely disconfirming evidence!

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