8 votes, average: 4.75 out of 58 votes, average: 4.75 out of 58 votes, average: 4.75 out of 58 votes, average: 4.75 out of 58 votes, average: 4.75 out of 5 (8 votes, average: 4.75 out of 5)
You need to be a registered member to rate this post.

Live Stream the Debate Tonight

One of the readers of the blog has submitted this:

Found this claim:
Livestreaming is happening for the Friday night debate, “Did the Historical Jesus Claim to be Divine?”
Instructions: To view the event you must have an account with livestream.com. If you do have an account, just sign in to your account to view. If you do not have an account you will have to go through the process of creating an account with Livestream.com.
Just copy and paste the URL below and follow the instructions.


Moreover, another asked me why in the world I’m interested in doing debates with this, against people I so thoroughly disagree with in front of audiences that are antagonistic toward me and my views.

So here’s the deal. First, with respect to such debates in general. I accept about five speaking (or debating) gigs each semester. I charge a healthy fee for these gigs — minimum $5000 (depending on where it is, how much travel, and so on; west coast is $6000; international is more like $8000; etc.). And I give all the fees to charity (the ones the blog supports) So basically I do this as a way to raise money for causes I believe in. That’s not a big deal. Millions of people REALLY give of themselves to their cherished causes, or donate huge amounts of money (think: presidential campaigns….).

On this debate in particular. Justin Bass has organized it and is my debating opponent. He is a PhD from Dallas Theological Seminary, is a Christian apologist, and is indeed very conservative theologically. But he is a nice guy. Last night he bought me a martini and a steak. So we’re off to a good start.

We will strongly disagree tonight, but that’s the nature of these beasts. My goal in a debate like this is never to “win” in the eyes of the audience. That just ain’t gonna happen. People with closed minds have all sorts of defense mechanisms to keep them closed, and people tend to go away from a confrontation like this agreeing with views that they already agreed with before they came.

But for such debates, I always do hope that maybe some sparks of light will be ignited in, say, two or three people, and that they’ll (eventually) be open to changing their minds about religious dogmas they hold, to adopt a more open and affirming view of the world. That would be a good thing! I suppose the majority of readers on this blog would agree that the evil done by calcified religious certainty is quite extreme. This is one way, at least, I can help fight against it. And if it doesn’t happen, well, at least I had my martini and steak!

My Debate with Kyle Butt on the Problem of Suffering
Kickstarting a Debate



  1. Avatar
    Hank_Z  September 18, 2015

    Thanks for doing these debates and writing this blog to raise money to help people in need!

  2. Avatar
    doug  September 18, 2015

    Sometimes all you can do is plant the seeds and hope they grow. And sometimes they do.

  3. Robert
    Robert  September 18, 2015

    Rib-eye rare for me tonight, with a glass of Cabernet, followed by a nice peaty Scotch (OK, maybe two). But I have all the ingredients for a good Martini if any of my guests ever wants one.

  4. TracyCramer
    TracyCramer  September 19, 2015

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention. It’s very exciting because I am watching/listening and writing this note to you as you speak. I see there are 178 other people watching, now 179, at 1 hour 14 minutes into the debate. But I am sad to report that although the feedback was slightly present for your opponent, it is overwhelming now while you speak, and, in addition, the volume of your voice is lower. So, I am afraid I will have to watch this one it is posted later, hopefully, in some other place, without the feedback.

  5. TracyCramer
    TracyCramer  September 19, 2015

    Hey, it’s break time and I don’t see you mobbed with autograph seekers! Wish I could be there to chat with you as no one else is! Anyway, it is so exciting that it is live.

  6. ZekePiestrup
    ZekePiestrup  September 19, 2015

    The ending of this debate was all time. Should be a YouTube highlight. You’re either picking & choosin at the Science Buffet, or you’re at the table with actual scholars. A face was planted on the beginner slopes.

  7. Avatar
    kentvw  September 19, 2015

    Great debate. Sound was horrible but that is an aside.


    • Avatar
      jbjbjbjbjb  September 22, 2015

      It was good kentvw, but I don’t think it was the best we have seen in terms of deep engagement between each position. I agree with you that the sound was horrible, but I don’t agree that this is just an aside. It’s 2015, why are technological issues like this still such a challenge?!

  8. Avatar
    Jason  September 19, 2015

    Do you ever narrow your message/focus to weaken particularly dangerous dogmas (ie, subjugation of women, repression and/or “correction” of homosexuals)?

  9. gmatthews
    gmatthews  September 19, 2015

    I just finished watching your debate live. I was curious why you didn’t take exception to Dr. Bass’ certainty that Peter dictated Mark’s gospel to Mark. Was it because it was a topic of discussion that would have distracted from what was already being discussed?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 19, 2015

      Yeah, it takes too long to explain why that view is so highly problematic

      • Avatar
        Adam Beaven  September 20, 2015

        what is internal evidence which indicate peter did not dictate to mark?

        peter is called satan
        peter denies 3 times

        last peter is seen taking a false oath

        why would peter want to have mark include all this anti peter stuff mentioned above? this is stuff which didnt really need to be included. if jesus made friends with post resurrected jesus, i don’t see the point in mark including anti peter information.

      • Avatar
        Adam Beaven  September 23, 2015

        Dr ehrman

        Mark says negative stuff about peter. He also says that they do not get it . he has peter deny jesus and the last peter is seen in the story when he denied jesus . is there indication that mark does not see peter as eyewitness to a resurrection?

        • Bart
          Bart  September 25, 2015

          Well, he indicates that the women never told Peter that Jesus was raised.

        • SBrudney091941
          SBrudney091941  September 25, 2015

          Nowhere in the NT does it say anyone witnessed the actual resurrection. The last three Gospels have post-resurrection stories/scenes.

  10. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  September 19, 2015

    hello bart

    before i pose mt question i would like to say to you that you did very well in your debate as usual though i was not able to watch all of it. are you going to post it here ? because I would like to watch it thosands times . anyway here is my question in John 17:3 jesus said

    And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent,”

    will not that be proof that the text denies the Trinity and Jesus Christ is not God. because if Jesus were God, then He would not have called the Father, “the only true God.” If the Father is the only true God, then it must require that Jesus cannot be God. what is your interpretation of this verse . i looked online all what i found is christian aplogists dancing around to prove even jesus said the father is only true God he meant he is also God .

    • Bart
      Bart  September 19, 2015

      Well, trinitarian thinkers would need to explain the verse –and of course they do!

    • SBrudney091941
      SBrudney091941  September 19, 2015

      There are many verses in which Jesus appears to draw a very clear distinction between himself and God or the Father.

      1. Mark 9:37 (plus Matthew 10:40, Luke 9:48, and John 13:20) [Jesus said] “….whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me [my italics].”
      2. Mark 10:17-18 and Matthew 19:17 [A man asks Jesus] “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”
      3. Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “….Here, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one” [the Lord God was Jesus’ god too].
      4. Mark 13:32 [Jesus said] “But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
      5. Matthew 7:21 [Jesus said] Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father in heaven.
      6. Matthew 11:25-27 At that time Jesus declared, “I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will. All things have been delivered to me by my Father….”
      7. Matthew 12:32 [Jesus said] And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.
      9. Matthew 24:36 [Jesus said] “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
      10. Luke 22:42 [Jesus said] “…not my will, but Thine, be done”
      11. John 5:19 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise.”
      12. John 5:30 [Jesus said] “I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me.”
      13. John 7:16 So Jesus answered them, “My doctrine is not mine, but his who sent me;”
      14. John 7:28-29 [Jesus said] “…I have not come of myself. I was sent by One who has the right to send, and Him you do not know. I know Him because it is from Him I come; he sent me.”
      15. John 8:40 [Jesus said] “But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God….”
      16. John 8:42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.“
      17. John 8:50 [Jesus said] “Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it and he will be the judge.”
      18. John 10:29 [Jesus said] “My Father, who has given [my sheep] to me, is greater than all….”
      19. John 14:10 [Jesus said] “The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works.”
      20. In John 14:28 [Jesus said] “….the Father is greater than I.”
      21. John 15:2 [Jesus said] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes; that it may bear more fruit.”
      22. John 17:11-13 [Jesus said to God] “….Holy Father….now I am coming to thee…. I have given them thy word….”
      23. John 20:17 [Jesus said] “….I am ascending to my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God.”
      24. John 20:23 [Jesus said to his disciples] “If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven….”

      • Avatar
        jbjbjbjbjb  September 22, 2015

        @SBrudney091941 24… this list is so much longer. I was able to find around this number just for the strand: “God raised Jesus” anthem we find in the NT. But don’t waste time on Jesus distinctions with “the Father”, Trinitarians have a quick and “easy” response to that, unless of course you want to wrestle with the “Father/God” interchangeability.

        For the interchangeability, I think the strongest evidence can also be found in John. “The Father sent me”. “God sent me”, etc. Trinitarians can only claim a one-way relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus is [OF the divine eternal] God [essence]. The confusion arises out of the removal of these square brackets, because if you don’t have them, it is not obvious why the opposite cannot be true, i.e. that Jesus and God are not synonymous. That confusion is not present when you read John. For John, Jesus’ notion of God is that he is Father, and that this Father, that he has in some sense “discovered”, is also God, ho Theos. For John, there IS interchangeability.

  11. Avatar
    Judith  September 19, 2015

    Thank you for letting us know how we could watch last night’s debate. During the debate I found myself doubly appreciative of all you do for charity and for us.

  12. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  September 19, 2015

    Good blog, but it sounds like swimming against the current. How did it go?

  13. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  September 19, 2015

    I missed it !!! You doing any more live streams anytime soon Bart ? Would love to watch the next one !!!!!

  14. Avatar
    walstrom  September 19, 2015

    I watched the LIVE STREAM event first on PC and then switching to iPhone.
    Aside from a 60hz microphone buzz throughout, the debate was intelligently conducted, informative, interesting, and
    rather illuminating.
    Justin Bass was sharp but did not take full advantage of the give-and-take possibilities inherent in rebuttal. In fact,
    I didn’t get the impression he is accustomed to formal debate procedures. Rather than dealing point by point with Bart’s presentation, Bass seemed content to repeat his opening salvo.
    I was a bit confused by Bass wanting to say Yahweh and Jesus are the same ‘person.’

    I hope the full three and one half hours is uploaded to YouTube for those who missed it. It repays listening and watching.
    Thanks Bart for the head’s up on the blog.

    • Bart
      Bart  September 19, 2015

      Yes it will be.

    • Avatar
      Forrest  September 20, 2015

      It has been some time since I heard someone equate Jesus with Yahweh. Remind me what the basis is and is it still taught in conservative circles?

      • Bart
        Bart  September 21, 2015

        I thought it was very strange indeed. He surely hasn’t thought through the implications of it.

  15. SBrudney091941
    SBrudney091941  September 19, 2015

    You said Justin Bass would provide a link to the debate after the debate but I did not find his website in Google search. Would you provide his URL?

  16. Avatar
    anberry  September 19, 2015

    Great job last night! I don’t envy your position as you were debating in front of a crowd that, from the get-go, was strongly biased against your ideas. Sitting in the middle-back I was too nervous to be vocal about my support for you swimming against the general tide of the audience. It was great to finally meet you at the end as I was Andrew who had gone to Westmont college and am a hobby philosopher (if you remember, you were swarmed with people far more aggresive, and thus more memorable, than I)

  17. Avatar
    Steefen  September 20, 2015

    Did the historical Jesus claim to be divine?

    Justin Bass:

    Yes, Jesus claimed to be divine when he did not speak like a prophet who adds to his/her proclamations: “thus saith the Lord.”

    The Son of Man is a divine figure. Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man, therefore Jesus was divine.

    Bart Ehrman:

    David and Solomon were each known as a Son of God; and, Enoch was a Son of Man. David, Solmon, and Enoch must also be divine.

    In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes I am statements, such as before Abraham, I am ( Jn 8: 58 ). This is unlikely to be historical because Jesus does not make that statement in the Synoptic Gospels.

    Justin Bass:

    Back to the authority of the historical Jesus, not seen in prophets: Jesus has the authority to change Passover into Communion.

    Steefen (youtube video producer, WBFbySteefen):

    The biblical Jesus of the gospels written after Jesus foresaw the destruction of the Temple by Rome in the context of the defeat of the Jewish Revolt and after Jesus spoke the parable of the Wicked Tenant Farmers saw a diminished or defeated God of the Israelites. Power abhors a vacuum. That is where Jesus’ authority came from, not because he was God but because he saw the God of the Israelites could not get respect for the prophets or the son.

    Jesus’ authority came from an atheistic stand against his former God. In the Wicked Tenants: God abandoned/forsook the Jews. In response Jesus taught “body and blood” remembrance despite or because of Leviticus 17: 10. What would an atheistic stand against the God of the Torah look like? God, turn your face away from me; and, I do not want to have anything else to do with your people.

    (“I will set my face against any Israelite or any foreigner residing among them who eats blood, and I will cut them off from the people.” – Leviticus 17: 10 )

    Not only did Jesus reject God’s face and people, he saw that when scriptures are fulfilled, there isn’t reward but punishment for those who believed in them.

    “For these days are the [days] of punishment when all the scriptures are fulfilled.” Luke 21: 22

    Bart Ehrman:

    Jesus did not claim to be the Son of Man.


    Your apocalyptic prophet did not claim to be the Son of Man?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 21, 2015

      No indeed! I talk about this at length in a number of my books.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  September 24, 2015

        The one clash there is about the debate of whether or not Jesus claimed to be the Son of Man appears in the Gospel of John. It is the recording of Jesus asking the blind man he healed of blindness, Do you believe in the Son of Man … the one who is speaking with you is he. In the Bass-Ehrman debate, Ehrman discredits the historicity of some of the self-identity statements of Jesus in the gospel of John on the grounds that these statements were not used by Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels. “The one who is speaking with you is the Son of Man” is probably a statement not spoken by the historical Jesus.

        This draws a distinction between the Son of Man and the international messiah of Zechariah. An international messiah would rank higher than a king. If King David or King Solomon or both were sons of god, the international messiah would be a son of god.

        Is there a question of whether or not Jesus saw himself as the international messiah of Zechariah?

        • Bart
          Bart  September 25, 2015

          I’m not sure what you mean by international messiah or what texts in Zechariah you’re referring to.

  18. Avatar
    J--B  September 20, 2015

    Hi Dr. Ehrman,

    Looks like Bernie Sanders took a page out of your play book.

  19. Avatar
    SmarterCookie  September 20, 2015

    Thanks for continuing to do these, you’re fun to watch and always do an excellent job.

  20. Avatar
    Celsus  September 21, 2015

    Dr. Ehrman,

    If the Jews found Jesus guilty of “blasphemy” then why didn’t they just stone him to death as was customary? There would have been no need to turn him over to the Romans and we have evidence that the Jewish authorities did have the power to execute people for religious crimes during this time period (Tractate Sanhedrin, other Talmudic Texts, Philo, Josephus, etc).

    Moreover, the official charge of blasphemy would have required Jesus to actually utter the name of God or fail to keep the name holy. Jesus nowhere does this in Mark 14 and the term “the Blessed” isn’t even attested as a title for God. The whole “trial” scene in Mark has numerous historical improbabilities. It seems that the gospels are not giving us the full picture of why or how Jesus went from being a “blasphemer” to being crucified by the Romans. Does this speculation seem reasonable to you?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 22, 2015

      The usual explanation is that Romans reserved the right of capital punishment to themselves.

      • Avatar
        Celsus  September 22, 2015

        Copied this from one of Tim O’Neill’s posts on Quora:

        (i) Archaeologists have found two inscriptions in Greek warning non-Jews against entering the inner courts of the Temple on pain of death. Josephus (Ant. XV) also notes that intruders in this part of the Temple were executed.

        (ii) Talmudic texts, including the Tractate Sanhedrin, give long and detailed instructions on how a capital trial was carried out in the Second Temple Period, including what forms of execution were to be applied for what crimes and exactly how an execution was to be mandated by the Sanhedrin.

        (iii) Talmudic literature also mentions or details examples of executions being ordered by the Sanhedrin, with the names of the victims and of the court members involved.

        (iv) Philo of Alexandria matter of factly notes that anyone entering the Holy of Holies in the Temple “is subjected to inevitable death for his impiety”.

        (v) Josephus mentions the execution of James the brother of Jesus and “some others” by the High Priest Hanan ben Hanan who “delivered them to be stoned” (Ant. XX. 9. 1)

        (vi) Several NT passages involve or imply executions by the Jewish authorities. Stephen is depicted as executed by the Sanhedrin in Acts 7:54-8:2 and the letter of Claudius Lysias to Felix in Acts 23:25-30 talks about Paul potentially being executed by the Sanhedrin.

        Clearly, the Jewish authorities did reserve the right to execute people for religious crimes.

        • Bart
          Bart  September 23, 2015

          Apart from mob violence, we don’t have any evidence of executions by the Jewish authorities.

          • SBrudney091941
            SBrudney091941  September 23, 2015

            Are you saying that “Tim O’Neill’s posts on Quora” quoted by Celsus are all mistaken or made up? I don’t argue that there were executions by Jewish authorities. I just don’t understand your saying that the apparent evidence cited by Celsus is not evidence.

          • Bart
            Bart  September 25, 2015

            No, I’m saying we don’t have any evidence of official executions of criminals by Jewish authorities at the time.

          • Avatar
            Celsus  September 25, 2015

            Dr. Ehrman,

            You don’t consider those six points above as evidence?

          • Bart
            Bart  September 25, 2015

            No, I’m saying we don’t have any evidence of official executions of criminals by Jewish authorities at the time.

You must be logged in to post a comment.