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My Interview on Fresh Air

As I have said before, every author who has done reasonably well selling trade books for a general audience knows that what drives sales is not the outstanding quality of a book — lots of terrific books go nowhere in sales, and others that are truly lousy end up being bestsellers — or in advertising. It’s all about media attention. When it comes to radio, one of the very best, top-flight programs to land is Fresh Air with Terry Gross. I don’t know this for a fact, but someone has told me that the show has 4.5 million listeners. That’s a lot.
I have been on Terry Gross six times now, and have enjoyed it immensely each time. She is absolutely fantastic as an interviewer. She’s smart, insightful, and curious. She knows how to ask the right questions. She knows how to direct a conversation. She lets her guest talk. She makes her guest feel comfortable and free to discuss openly the important aspects of the book s/he has authored. It is a great experience. And it makes a huge difference in sales. If the point of writing a book is to get people to read it, interviews such as those that Terry Gross gives are absolutely spectacular.
I did my sixth interview with her on April 7, two weeks ago, on How Jesus Became God.  Here is the interview, in case you have not yet heard it.

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Video: Bart Ehrman vs. James White Debate
A Milestone for the Blog



  1. Avatar
    gavriel  April 22, 2014

    I still have some problems accepting that Jesus was left on the cross, according to the most common Roman practices. History is full of unexpected exceptions to the rules, so that one cannot just fill in gaps using a sort of historical probability calculated from the past as the only method. I have for long time thought that the early creed of the Church , that he was buried, probably goes back to “something”, whatever it is.
    One of my favorite arguments against mythicists is that it would have been impossible for the early community members to establish themselves in Jerusalem that very early and at the same time use the execution event as part of their missionary message to the public. If invented, most would know that such an execution never took place and the early Christians would have been ridiculed and some Jewish reflections of this ridiculing would have been attested in Jewish literature, or indirectly in Christian polemics. This argument extends to the possible burial event as well, to a certain degree. Quite a lot of the population of Jerusalem would have known if the body was left to scavengers.
    A quick execution and a quick burial into an anonymous grave for criminals would both serve the same purpose: Execution to take the air out of the balloon of a Messiah pretender in the eyes of the public, and a burial to reduce the kind of public indignation, like what happened after the execution of his brother. Something that Pilate and the Jewish High Priest might have agreed upon.
    What do you think of Acts 13:29?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 23, 2014

      I think Acts 13:29 contradicts the Gospel reports about the burial, which makes me suspicioius of their accuracy. I talk about this in How Jesus Became God.

      • Avatar
        Wilusa  April 24, 2014

        Say, the index to Scriptural references in your book is terrific! I’d forgotten what Acts 13:29 said, but it took me only seconds to access your discussion of it.

        I’m sure what you say is possible. But I think it at least equally possible that the “Joseph” tradition – whether or not that was the man’s actual name – is older. The way I interpret it is that the well-to-do man who put Jesus’s body (temporarily) in his family’s tomb was an actual *believer* in the coming “Kingdom.” He accepted the idea that it would be harder for a well-off person than for a peasant to qualify for a happy future in that Kingdom. So he went out of his way to do something “special” – prevent Jesus’s body from being ravaged by scavengers or tossed into a common grave with two criminals. But when a later misunderstanding caused his name to be publicly linked with a “resurrection” claim, he may have regretted ever getting involved.

        Assuming he was a member of the Sanhedrin, he may not have dared cast a dissenting vote in their trial of Jesus. Or he may not have been present: some non-clerical members of the body may not have gotten to what was presumably a late-night emergency session.

  2. Avatar
    shakespeare66  April 23, 2014

    I listened to it the day you had the interview and thought it was terrific. Terry Gross is amazing and I loved the questions and your very prepared responses. I don’t think I ever had a professor who communicates as well as you do. You communicate in the books as well as any scholar I have ever read. I just got the book and will start reading it tonight. I know I will enjoy it as I have all of the books you have written. What an education you have given me. Thank you.

  3. Avatar
    toejam  April 23, 2014

    Yesterday you said you didn’t get to choose which shows you would go on, but I still reckon you should twist your publicist’s arm to request an interview on “The Thinking Atheist”. Carrier’s interview has already clocked well over 50,000 views (46,000 on youtube alone and who-knows more on other formats, itunes etc.). And the host has said he’s contacted you in the past to no avail… I reckon it’s a great platform. And like I said, I get fed up with Carrier and Price hogging the spotlight when it comes to views of Christian Origins held by atheist/agnostic/skeptic scholars.

    Carrier’s interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G4Gs-LUqv-M

  4. Brad Billips
    Brad Billips  April 23, 2014

    For the members, you can also download the “NPR news” app onto your phone. Use the search button to type Bart Ehrman or a similar phrase. This gives you most, if not all, of Dr. Ehrman’s interviews (or others you would like) over the years on Fresh Air. Just remind yourself to add it to the NPR “Playlist” section for quick references in the future.

    Hope it helps.

    • Avatar
      TomTerrific  April 23, 2014

      I know the news shows, All Things Considered and Morning Edition, used to be transcribed into text.

      Do they transcribe Gross’ show?

  5. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 23, 2014

    My two cents worth: I think in “Did Jesus Exist?” and in some of your blogs you appropriately mention that many of the mythicists really do not have academic credentials in the field of Christianity in Antiquity. I think this probably hacked them off.

    The point about Pilate is quite clear and an inscription or two here or there does not change the point that there is very little information about even famous people living in the first century.

  6. Avatar
    Jrgebert  April 23, 2014

    Do you believe the banner King of the Jews at the cross was historical? If it was it would mean that there was some reliable memory of the Crucifixion. If it was there might be less reason to assume Jesus was honorably buried.

  7. Avatar
    Wilusa  April 23, 2014

    Great interview! Terry Gross certainly did ask questions that gave you an excellent opportunity to explain your views.

    One thing you didn’t get in there was the fact that *some* believers (including Paul) had an incarnation Christology at a very early date, but it was significantly different from the one seen in John…

    I still don’t see that the “empty tomb” possibility hinges on the notion that Pilate, personally, would have had to “make an exception” in Jesus’s case. With Passover nearing its end, Pilate would probably have been thinking more about getting out of town than anything else. And he wasn’t known to have had a long-standing animosity toward Jesus (as Herod Antipas had toward John the Baptist); he’d probably never heard of him before that day. So I think a supporter of Jesus who had some *money* could have bribed an underling to release the body, without the underling’s being afraid to risk it.

    When you did believe in the “empty tomb” story (but not in a resurrection), you didn’t think Pilate had actually cared enough to have the tomb guarded by Roman soldiers, did you?

  8. cheito
    cheito  April 27, 2014

    DR Ehrman;

    Your assertion that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher is not historically reliable. I could and have in previous comments on this blog pointed out that there are events that must take place before Jesus second return. Jesus Himself predicted that He would be arrested and killed and that he would rise on the third day. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2: declared that the coming of the Lord and our gathering together to Him would not happen until the antichrist would be revealed. Why do you ignore these other verses in the bible when you confidently state that Jesus believed that the kingdom He was announcing would happen in his earthly lifetime?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  April 28, 2014

      I explain why in my books. See, e.g., Jesus: Apocalpytic Prophet of the New Millennium.

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