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Keep on Keepin’ On?


This post is a brief hiatus to say that if you’re getting tired of all this talk about methods and the Gospel of John, let me know and I’ll go on to something else.   I haven’t heard any complaints, so I’ll keep going till I do!  I realize these posts may not be the sexiest things to come across the blog, but sometimes it is good to deal with lots of substance as well as / in addition to the human interest stories. I suppose we need both!

In any event, these posts have been a boon for me, because they have allowed me to continue to contribute to the blog with less of a time commitment during a period when I have been even more crazily swamped than normal.

This past week, on Spring Break, I’ve been in London, which should in theory have been a vacation!  And I have seen two plays (a *terrific* rendition of Ibsen’s Ghosts, and my all-time favorite actor Simon Russell Beale in King Lear).  And it’s been nice seeing lots of family.  But other than that, frankly, it’s been mainly work.

Yesterday I had a two hour radio debate with Simon Gathercole on the Premier Christian radio station’s show, Unbelievable, hosted with unusual competency by Justin Brierly, on my new book – due out in 11 days, How Jesus Became God.   Simon contributed to the response book How God Became Jesus.   I can’t say anything about the content of the interview, since it will not air until after the books have appeared, and Simon and I have both agreed not to disclose the contents of the other’s book before the publication date.  What I can say is that Simon is a very fine scholar, smart (teaches at Cambridge University), and generous.  We had lots of disagreements, but a very agreeable time.  It was a nice airing of views.  The show will come out on April 1; I will see if I’m allowed to post it on the blog.

In any event, in preparation for that, I had to read the response book.  That took some time, since I wanted to read it carefully to be sure I followed the objections – the oh so many objections – to mine.  I actually don’t enjoy that part.  But it had to be done.

More than that, I’ve been preparing for my Teaching Company lectures this coming week.   I fly Stateside tomorrow, prepare for classeson Sunday, teach all day Monday, prepare for lectures on Tuesday, teach on Wednesday, head to the airport after class, fly to D.C., and then on Thursday and Friday I’m slated to give fourteen lectures.   YIKES!!!    This means, among other things, that I have to have the lectures down pat before even getting to D.C., and that’s a lot of work.

I have lots of sundry other responsibilities going on just now as well (dissertations to read; letters of recommendation to write; articles for peer reviewed journals to referee; and on and on – the life of a university professor!).   So, to return to the point, I’ve been glad that I have been able to take a break from writing up a long post every day and can re-produce some of the stuff that is already out there but that the vast majority of you on the blog have never run across before.

But as I say, if you’re totally ready for me to go on to other things, let me know.   After this coming week, things will, in any event, return to a greater sense of normalcy.   But the blog may be spotty before then.   And as always, if you have any burning questions you want me to address, do let me know.  I can’t always answer everyone’s questions, for a large variety of reasons, but your questions do help drive what I talk about.

In any event, my plan is to continue with methods for studying the Gospels in relation to John, starting with my next post (on the use of redaction criticism for John – that will take two posts, both of which strike me as pretty interesting; after that I get on to something completely different, in terms of methods: the socio-historical method).  Unless I hear a loud chorus urging me to stop!

The Socio-Historical Method
Did Jesus Exist? Video Presentation



  1. Avatar
    Mohy  March 14, 2014

    This blog is great keep on ,you are very kind and helpful

  2. Avatar
    doug  March 14, 2014

    Don’t wear yourself out over a blog. I read them every day, but I don’t want to kill the goose who is laying those golden eggs!

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    Anthony Nuccio  March 14, 2014

    Professor Ehrman,

    Thank you for this blog entry! I always think it is fascinating to see how busy university/college professors are in comparison to their students! Also, thank you for your signatures on the copies of the books that I sent you. Your work is an inspiration to me and is one of the reasons why I am pursuing graduate school to become a college professor.

    Best Wishes,


  4. Avatar
    donmax  March 14, 2014

    Dr. Ehrman:

    Sometimes you say the most obvious, yet outlandish things. For example, “I’m afraid there’s not a method in existence that can allow you to know what someone else ‘intends.’ E.g., no one really knows what I intend by writing this reply! Maybe I intend to exercise my fingers a bit more to relieve the onset of arthritis!”

    If that’s the case, then perhaps YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW!

    If a writer fails to communicate with purpose, why would he or she bother to write in the first place? Authorial intention is always expressed through the words, as written and edited, whether fictional or not. I’ll bet your wife understands this and knows plenty about Will Shakespeare’s *intentions* when it comes to writing about Macbeth or Richard III. It’s part of the critics job.

    From a reader’s point of view it is not particularly difficult to see what Hitler was trying to convey in Mein Kampf, or what Dr. King intended when he penned his Letter From Birmingham Jail. Is there any doubt about Thomas Jefferson’s purpose when he composed the Declaration of Independence?

    Written words usually communicate multiple messages, intended and otherwise, not excluding what the authors were trying to say at the time. But there’s a big difference between “invented” protagonists like David Copperfield and marginally historic characters like Jesus or King Arthur.

    So if some of us can recognize what unknown gospel writers were up to when they wrote their ancient narratives, why should we overlook their perceived intentions ? After all, billions of readers (& listeners) seem to have gotten the message loud and clear, including the most literate people on the planet at the time? And if you “subscribe to the view that WE CANNOT KNOW AUTHORIAL INTENT,” there’s no reason for the rest of us to deny or ignore what we see.

    Last of all, when I read your books, or the comments on your blog, I can sense your motives – both from what you say and how you say it – even though we may not agree.

    D.C. Smith

  5. Avatar
    Joshua Gordon  March 14, 2014

    I like what you are doing and take all the time necessary to conclude.
    Follow up Suggestion. A chronological presentation of the New Testament.
    Example: 1st Thessalonians (generally agreed as the 1st Christian document) – same methods as you are using on the gospels.
    Then the next chronological Christian document, and so on.
    For me as an avid reader of your trade and academic material re-purposing things you have already written in this chronological manner would help you (no burn out) and help us see things in a rational logistic order. Also seeing the historical placement of the forged Pauline Letters and so on IMO would nail down a lot of the development of christian thought.
    Finally it would be a great addition to your archives here for those of us who like to reference subjects.
    Really looking forward to getting your new book – I per-ordered on Amazon.

  6. Avatar
    FrancisDunn  March 14, 2014

    Dr Ehrman: I can’t speak for everyone but I would like to know more about John”s gospel…..

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    fultonmn  March 14, 2014

    The blog is at its best when slightly wonkish. There just aren’t that many sources for non-experts interested in real NT scholarship. Ninety-nine percent of what’s on the internet comes from a devotional standpoint which, after you’ve tasted the red meat of scholarly criticism, is pretty thin gruel.

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    RonaldTaska  March 14, 2014

    Please keep going. This series has been very helpful, but skip a few days of blogging if needed. I could never do 14 lectures back to back on anything. You are an amazing person.

  9. Avatar
    gabilaranjeira  March 14, 2014

    These posts are highly educational and academic. I have been very interested in every single one of them. Please, continue!

  10. Avatar
    fwhiting  March 15, 2014

    Dr. Ehrman: Where is your schedule of appearances at the Smithsonian posted? I live in the D.C. area and would love to attend as many of your lectures as possible! Thanks.

  11. Avatar
    tawfiq  March 15, 2014

    Your posts on the Gospel of John are very enjoyable – please continue. Wishing you safe travels back to the USA and looking forward to seeing you at King’s College in June.

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    toejam  March 15, 2014

    Take your time, Mr. Ehrman! I enjoy the ‘Unbelieveable’ radio show. Look forward to delving into your upcoming publications. Just out of curiosity, what is the position of Justin, the host of ‘Unbelieveable’? He does a great job at moderator that I’m never quite sure of his opinion. I assume that he’s something of a liberal Christian?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 17, 2014

      I believe he identifies as an evangelical Christian. He is obviously very astute and open minded.

  13. Avatar
    SJB  March 15, 2014

    Prof Ehrman

    Please continue.

    Before you leave the Gospel of John I hope you’ll discuss the problems of authorship (multiple?) and perhaps discuss the idea of a Johannine “community”.


  14. Stroupe
    Stroupe  March 15, 2014

    Please continue!

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    Beatle792  March 15, 2014

    Please stay on John’s gospel.

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    z8000783  March 15, 2014

    “This post is a brief hiatus to say that if you’re getting tired of all this talk about methods and the Gospel of John, let me know and I’ll go on to something else.”

    Absolutely not. These posts are great. It’s fascinating to get behind the history and see how you do your work. Keep ’em coming.

  17. Avatar
    maxhirez  March 15, 2014

    Wow-you ARE busy. Stay healthy. Drink lots of water and wash your hands a lot, etc…

  18. Fearguth
    Fearguth  March 15, 2014

    ‘Don’t Stop’, as Fleetwood Mac would sing.

  19. Avatar
    Scott F  March 15, 2014

    I find that these examples of analysis help me in my thinking about the Bible and even other issues in the world today – global warming, education reform, etc

  20. Avatar
    Wilusa  March 15, 2014

    I think these posts are great – my one regret is that I haven’t had time to reread the earlier ones and fit the whole thing together in my mind.

    Someone mentioned “Son of God” – I have no intention of seeing it, but I visited Wikipedia in hopes of learning from the Synopsis how they treated the story. There was essentially no Synopsis (just said it was the life of Jesus). But I did learn it’s just stuff from that TV series “The Bible,” with some footage that didn’t air on TV (and without scenes of a “devil” who looked like President Obama!). Mostly bad reviews.

    I remember I turned on the first episode of that TV series – and turned it off, in horror, when I realized they were treating the Noah’s Ark story as fact.

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