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Really??? Stories of Jesus’ Virgin Birth

COMMENT:

When I bring up the possibility that the original Luke did not have the first two chapters which include the virgin birth narrative, Christians say to me:  “How could such a new twist to the story of Jesus have developed so soon in the first century if some of Jesus’ family, disciples, and friends were still alive to verify its accuracy?  If Jesus had truly been Joseph’s son, wouldn’t SOMEONE have said, “Hey. Wait a minute.  Jesus nor his mother ever claimed that he was the virgin-born son of Yahweh.  This virgin birth story is bogus nonsense.”

 

RESPONSE:

This is an interesting point and one that we should reflect on.  As it turns out, it’s one I’ve reflected on it for some thirty years now!  (And it is related to what I discuss in my next book on how memory affected the oral traditions circulating about Jesus before the Gospels were written.)   It is one of those points that on the surface sounds really convincing: of *course* that’s the case!  No one could make up stories about Jesus’ family if his family was there to correct them, right???

Well, I think the answer is actually just the opposite:  wrong!  Here let me make several points that I do not think are easily refuted.

First, how many people in the first century (since I date the Gospels to the first century) are telling …

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First, how many people in the first century (since I date the Gospels to the first century) are telling stories about the virgin birth?   We don’t actually know how many Christians there were in, say, the year 90.   I wish we did, but we don’t.  We do have some ballpark ideas.  There are more than 10 and fewer then 10,000, almost certainly.  So, let’s pick a number.  My guess is that the answer is probably 3000 or 4000.  Let’s just be conservative and say 3000.

OK, of those 3000, how many do we know for certain are telling a story about Jesus being born of a virgin.   Here there is a clear and certain answer.  We know of two.  (And that’s assuming that Luke originally had chapters 1-2).   What were the other 2998 people saying about Jesus’ birth?  We have no way of knowing.  I would *assume* that the readers of Matthew and Luke would have agreed with what they read: but when it comes to knowing who was actually telling the stories, we know of only two.  How many were telling contrary stories?  We have absolutely NO way of knowing.

We often forget how utterly limited our access to early Christians is, and how woefully ignorant we are about what they were saying to each other.  All we have are the surviving documents.  And the only first century documents we have are the 27 books of the New Testament and probably one book from outside of the NT (the book of 1 Clement).   So, of those 28 books, how many are talking about Jesus’ family life?  Again, two  So that’s 2 out of 28 that we know of.

Why didn’t someone correct the authors of Matthew and Luke and say that it didn’t happen that way? Well, here’s a big question: How do we know that someone WASN’T correcting them???  We simply have no evidence.

But let’s assume, again just to be on the conservative side, that no one bothered to correct them.  How could that be, if there were living members of Jesus’ family who could do so?  Well, let’s think further.  Was Jesus’ mother alive still when Matthew and Luke were written?  Almost certainly not – she would have had to have been a hundred years old.   She had almost certainly been dead for decades at the time of their writing. Who besides his mother could have confidently corrected the story?  Well, presumably his father, but he wasn’t living then either.  And his brothers would not have known anything about their parents’ sex lives.  But even so, they probably weren’t still alive either.

But suppose somehow they *were* very (very!) old men and they *did* know about how Jesus was conceived?  Would they have corrected Matthew and Luke?  Remember: Jesus and his family came from a remote rural area of Aramaic speaking Palestine.  We have no record of them traveling outside their homeland.  And they did not speak Greek.   What about Matthew and Luke?  There is no evidence that they had ever been to Palestine and they did not speak Aramaic.  They were highly educated Greek-speaking Christians living 80-90 years after the event (Jesus’ birth) that they are narrating.   Jesus’ immediate family was almost certainly dead by this time, and there was no one from that family going around Greek-speaking circles of the Roman empire correcting what others were saying about their grandmother’s sex life.

And even if they were (see how implausible this whole thing is starting to be?), how could they correct what everyone said about their grandmother?   I deal with a related issue in my forthcoming book Jesus Before the Gospels.  The question is: can eyewitnesses correct what others want to say about someone?  Or maybe I should say: is there any way that eyewitnesses can make sure that others tell their stories correctly?  (Remember: none of these grandchildren of Joseph and Mary would even be eyewitnesses to how they conceived Jesus.)  Here’s how I put it in the book:

 

One obvious point to stress, which has not occurred to everybody, is this:  stories about Jesus were circulating even during his lifetime [NOTE: That’s not the case for the stories of Jesus’ virgin birth].  Moreover, even then they were not being told only by eyewitnesses.  When someone who saw Jesus do or say something then and told someone else who wasn’t there, it is impossible to believe that this other person was forbidden from sharing the news with someone else.   Life just doesn’t work that way.   Think about any public person you know: the President of the United States, a movie star, a famous author, or even just a popular university professor.   People tell stories about them.   And other people repeat the stories.  Then other people repeat the stories.  And the stories obviously are told in different words, every time.   Thus, the stories change.   Moreover, stories get made up.  You don’t have to take my word for it.  Ask any public figure.  It is true that the people about whom the stories are told might hear a wild version and correct it.  But there is no guarantee that everyone will hear the correction so that from then on they tell the story correctly.  On the contrary, non-eyewitnesses continue to tell the story.  And yet other stories.

This happens even when people are alive and there are plenty of eyewitnesses who can correct things.   If the President has a meeting with his cabinet and word leaks out about what was said there, and it gets reported in the news, and someone in Kansas tells his next door neighbor about it, then that person tells her husband – is there an eyewitness in her living room (someone from the President’s cabinet) to make sure that she tells the story correctly?

Let’s say someone in the year 75 (after Mark’s Gospel was written) told someone else that he heard that Jesus’ mother was a virgin.   The person he told tells his wife, who tells her neighbor, who tells her husband, who tells his business associate who tells his cousin who tells his wife, who tells their children.   Now, in the year 76, when all this telling and re-telling is finished, are we supposed to believe that the descendants of Joseph and Mary are going around and checking with everyone who tells the stories in order to make sure they get it right?  It seems unlikely.

So again, as attractive (and common!) as this view is, I think it is completely implausible and is not an argument against the standard critical view, that the stories of Jesus’ virgin birth appeared relatively late in the oral traditions (sometime after both Paul and Mark were writing).


Reader’s Mailbag on Virgin Birth: 10/29/15
Is Luke’s Christology Consistent?

69

Comments

  1. Avatar
    godspell  October 26, 2015

    Bart, we do have Paul saying he met James, brother of Jesus, in Jerusalem, and we have Josephus saying James was stoned to death in Jerusalem, around the year 62. Now we don’t know for sure that James was Jesus’ brother, but there’s no reason to assume he wasn’t.

    It certainly seems likely that the virgin birth took some time to take root in the Christian community. Even though miraculous births are not uncommon in the Jewish scriptures, to have God basically father a son on a mortal woman would be a hard pill for most Jews to swallow, reeking as it does of pagan mythology and its lusty male gods.

    But it had to start somewhere, and the question still remains–why? Why did this story take hold, and not the idea that Jesus was adopted by God, or Paul’s idea that he was a sort of angel, pre-existent in heaven, waiting to be incarnated in human form?

    It must be said, there is no more appealing story in the Old or New Testament than the Nativity. In religion, typically, whoever tells the best stories wins. You think maybe that’s it?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yes, Paul gives no indication of knowing about a virgin birth; he certainly knew James I think, and if there was a tradition at that point, it seems that he would have been told about it. That makes me think that the tradition originated after Paul’s day. And after Mark’s.

      • Avatar
        godspell  October 28, 2015

        I agree, but it’s possible Paul heard the story, and didn’t like it. As you’ve suggested, it could have been a small minority of Christians telling this story at first. Social movements change over time, often in ways their founders would not approve of.

        James would probably not be overly enthused about a story that suggested his brother was only his half-brother, and that his mother got pregnant out of wedlock.

        But the most likely explanation is that the story was not known to either of them, or to anybody contemporaneous with Jesus.

  2. Avatar
    BrianUlrich  October 26, 2015

    This doesn’t relate to the Virgin Birth, but isn’t the Didache from the end of the first century, or at least stiched together from two first-century texts? Your intro to it in the Loeb series is actually the most recent thing I’ve read on the topic, but I don’t remember it exactly.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yes, it’s stiched together; it’s hard to know when the texts were put together — or when they originated. I usually date the final production to around 100 CE or so; its earlier constituent parts were … earlier! Not *much* Xgy in the texts though….

  3. talmoore
    talmoore  October 26, 2015

    Dr. Ehrman, there’s a common erroneous assumption that it takes decades for legends to develop around an historical person, but plenty of the legends that we know about began not only within years of the person’s life but even while the legendary figure was still alive! We even see it happening today, with all our modern forms of mass communication. Just take the one example of Emperor Haile Salassie of Ethiopia, who, even within his own lifetime, Rastafarians believed was the Messiah–and this was even after Salassie himself openly denied being the Messiah! Those who believed Salassie was the Messiah simply dismissed Salassie’s denial as faux humility. It reminds of that scene in Life of Brian, where Brian keeps strenuously denying to a crowd of votaries that he is, in fact, not the Messiah, but they simply refuse to listen. Once people get it into their heads that there’s something otherworldly about someone, they often put themselves into a confirmation bias bubble that only reinforces their own delusion. There’s no reason to think that the same thing couldn’t have happened with Jesus.

    • Avatar
      godspell  October 28, 2015

      But Jesus simply wasn’t that well-known in his lifetime. And originally, most of his followers were Jewish, and therefore unlikely to tell this particular kind of birth story–even though miraculous births are in the Old Testament, you don’t see virgins giving birth after being visited by some aspect of God.

      Of course, there’s still the theory that the idea Mary got pregnant as a virgin comes from the fact that the word for a young woman in Hebrew in the Old Testament was translated into a Greek word that can mean a young woman who never had sex.

      After Jesus died, it was really hard to make the case he was the Messiah–no tradition said the Messiah would be killed, let alone executed as a criminal. But Jesus had left such a powerful impression, his followers refused to let go of him. So they kept looking for ways to make him match up to Old Testament prophecies. They tried to say he was born in Judea, when he clearly wasn’t. They tried to say that his being from Nazareth had something to do with an unrelated word Nazirite, that related to some prophecies. And because there was an Old Testament passage that said “A young woman shall give birth to a son” that translated in Greek as “A virgin shall give birth to a son”–

      Obviously most Jews were not convinced, nor should they have been. Jesus did not fulfill the Old Testament prophecies in any way, and I tend to doubt he thought he was Messiah. But by the time Christianity had ceased to be mainly Jewish, these stories they’d come up with to convince Jews had been transformed into something very different. Something Jesus would probably have had a hard time recognizing as an account of his origins.

      • talmoore
        talmoore  November 10, 2015

        “But Jesus simply wasn’t that well-known in his lifetime.”
        It’s easier to turn a nobody into a somebody than it is to turn a somebody into somebody else.

        • Bart
          Bart  November 11, 2015

          Interesting idea. But I’m not sure that’s true. Think of all the people Barack Obama has been turned into. I’m not sure one can say that about figures who are simply made up.

          • talmoore
            talmoore  November 11, 2015

            Dr. Ehrman,
            The difference is that Barack Obama has left a paper trail that allows intellectually honest people to verify whether Obama is actually the communist Kenyan muslim that Fox News pretends he is, which is something we can’t say about Jesus. The Jesus of history could conceivably be totally unrecognizable next to the Jesus of the Gospels (let alone the Jesus of the Nicene Creed!), but we can never be totally sure, because Jesus, who was more or less a cipher, didn’t leave a paper trail.

            A great example of the opposite is Pontius Pilate, who the Gospels portray as a morally conflicted man, but which documented history clearly shows to have been unapologetically ruthless. In the case of Pilate, the Gospels aren’t fooling the people who know better. In the case of Jesus, however, even the best experts are still flummoxed as to the real man. That’s the power of turning a nobody into a somebody.

  4. Avatar
    Mhamed Errifi  October 26, 2015

    hello Bart

    Mark 6:3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.

    i think from Mark 6:3 we can know that people knew that joseph was not jesus father because in jesus time people call you by your father name and not your mother name even you father was dead . the only time that they would not , if your father was unknown to them like you were bastard

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yup, good points.

      • Avatar
        willow  October 28, 2015

        I don’t know that Mark 6:3 settles the matter.

        Though Mark’s earlier than Mathew, Mathew 13:55 begs the question: “Is this not the carpenter’s son…?” Surely the text is referring to Joseph as the father of Jesus.

        To further complicate matters (and never mind the genealogies) Luke 3:23 gives us, I believe, a glimpse into a past period of time that predates all of the Gospels, but perhaps not the earliest writings of Paul, when the majority (if not all) believed Jesus to be the actual son of Joseph.

        The addition of “(as was supposed)” to the text of Luke 3:23, which reads: “And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) (KJV) the son of Joseph…” does nothing for the text and can be easily eliminated altogether.

        Moreover, there’s that little matter of Paul, our first NT writer who seemed to know nothing about a virgin birth or an immaculate conception. I may be terribly amiss here, assuming too much, and beg you correct me if I am, but it seems to me that Paul would have been the first to herald such an event as the virgin birth of Jesus, had he known about it, and if he didn’t know it, who did? Certainly not those the author of Luke was referring to as those who “supposed” Jesus was the actual son of Joseph.

        I’m supposing those who supposed Jesus was the son of Joseph were those closest to Jesus. His family, his friends, his neighbors, his rabbi, and even is disciples from whom we have no writings. Then too there’s that little matter of Mary who certainly seems to have forgotten who her son was and for what purpose he came.

        • Avatar
          willow  October 28, 2015

          PS:

          I left something out here. Romans 1:1: the “seed of David according to the flesh.”

    • Avatar
      godspell  October 28, 2015

      In Jewish culture, there’s more emphasis on matrilineal heritage–to this very day, which is why if you have a Jewish mother and a gentile father, you can apply for Israeli citizenship–but not the other way around.

      If it was widely known Joseph was not Jesus’ father, then why these geneologies trying to prove he’s descended from David through Joseph?

      I think the story shifted around a lot, due to people being separated by geography, and just trying to come up with a version of the story that would win more followers, and make more sense. The story that really happened–an otherwise unremarkable young man from Nazareth who had been a follower of John the Baptist started his own ministry, preached the coming of the Kingdom of God in his own lifetime, and then was executed by the Romans–that was never going to work.

      What did work–over time–was the power of Jesus’ teaching and the memory of his charisma, combined with the storytelling prowess of some of his later followers, as well as the theological genius of Paul. And the movement they created proved to be a very powerful social force, that moved people to great works of charity and courage.

      But then it got popular, and became a source of temporal power, and we know what happens to social movements that succeed that way.

      • Avatar
        willow  October 29, 2015

        I hope you don’t mind, Godspell,

        *If it was widely known Joseph was not Jesus’ father, then why these geneologies trying to prove he’s descended from David through Joseph?

        Exactly. To include Paul’s, Romans 1:1: the “seed of David according to the flesh.” But that he descended from Joseph he’d have had no claim to the throne; for though women determine lineage, men determine kingship, no?

        The whole argument of adoption flies out the window if Jesus was not Joseph’s first born; or even second or third. He had several brothers, or half brothers. As some legend has it, Joseph had sons from a previous marriage, one of whom was James. James, as an older brother or the oldest brother, would have been rightful heir to the throne before an adopted son, one would think.

        And with this I believe you explained it best:

        What did work–over time–was the power of Jesus’ teaching and the memory of his charisma, combined with the storytelling prowess of some of his later followers, as well as the theological genius of Paul. And the movement they created proved to be a very powerful social force, that moved people to great works of charity and courage.

        But then it got popular, and became a source of temporal power, and we know what happens to social movements that succeed that way.

  5. Avatar
    Wilusa  October 26, 2015

    A question suggested by something else I think is in Luke: the story about the boy Jesus in the Temple.

    Do most scholars dismiss that as legend, and think Jesus was seeing what went on in the Temple *for the first time* when he initiated that fracas with the moneychangers? (I’m thinking he may have been “shocked” by things more sophisticated Judeans saw as perfectly acceptable.)

    Also, do scholars think he may have believed the moneychangers were using unfair exchange rates, with the priests getting a “cut”? Is it thought likely they *were* doing that?

    I’m speculating that while the “fracas” was minor by our standards, it may have had major consequences: the priests heard an exaggerated account of Jesus’s behavior, *wanted* to have him executed for “blasphemy,” and found something else they could use as an *excuse* (the alleged “King of the Jews” claim).

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yes, the Luke 2 passage is almost certainly a legend. As to what he was objecting to years later, it’s very hard to say. But yes, possibly that people where making a buck off of the worship of God.

  6. Avatar
    Todd  October 26, 2015

    I think the answer to this question is “No!” but I will ask it anyway:

    Is there any way we can determine that anything we read in the New Testament is factually correct, and if the answer is “No!”, then why read it?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yes, indeed — much of the NT is factually accurate!!

      Even the parts that are not are worth reading: this is one of the great (THE greatest, probably) classics of Western civilizatoin.

  7. Avatar
    caseyjunior  October 26, 2015

    Dr.Ehrman: I didn’t respond to your post yesterday, but I want you to know that I think your blog is very good the way it is. I discovered your courses, and luckily enough, saw your lectures in Wichita last February. I subscribed right after that. Since then I have read most of your books, watched the videos on your blog, and followed it daily. It has provided tons of information that I have been curious about for a long time. Interestingly enough, the PBS series on the brain covered the topic of memory last week and it coincided well with the premise of your new book. Thanks again.

  8. Avatar
    Scott  October 26, 2015

    You know, living eyewitnesses can be quite successful in correcting made-up stories. They can 99% successful…

    … but, it only takes a tiny, insular minority to keep the legend alive. And once the eyewitnesses are safely dead, there is no impediment to this group passing the myth on as gospel truth!

    Let’s face it, “tiny, insular minority” is as apt a description of the first Christians as any.

  9. Avatar
    JamesFouassier  October 26, 2015

    Professor, some scholars like Burton Mack would argue that the source of the virgin conception tradition (and the later virgin birth tradition) behind Matthew and Luke was a myth basically spun out of whole cloth by someone intent on advancing the christological interest of his own little community. Matthew and Luke, in their turn, altered the tradition to fit their own christological needs (which explains the contradictions between their respective versions). After all, someone, somewhere needed to be the first to tell a story, wouldn’t you say ?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yes, that’s the big question. My view is that *someone* made it up; and if they did, they had a reason for doing so. To that extent I would agree with Mack.

      • Avatar
        jhague  December 14, 2017

        Since we think that it is likely that Mary and Joseph were the parents of Jesus:
        1. Why were stories of Mary getting pregnant out of wedlock invented?
        2. Why is Jesus referred to as Mary’s son rather than Joseph’s son?

        • Bart
          Bart  December 15, 2017

          1. Possibly to explain the unusual circumstnces of Jesus birth OR to stress that he really was the Son of God OR to show how he fulfilled prophecy OR all three.
          2. I was posting on that a few weeks ago! Usual answer: Joseph was dead by then; another answer: Jesus’ father was not known (to Mark) (or to anyoene else?!)

  10. Avatar
    Jim  October 26, 2015

    Also the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the 2nd Temple in AD 70 should be a factor, along with an enormous loss of life during the siege. Many witnesses to Jesus likely died in that holocaust.

  11. Avatar
    john76  October 26, 2015

    The virgin birth pericopes were probably invented to counter the adoptionist Christology portrayed in the baptism in Mark.

  12. Avatar
    Lee Palo  October 26, 2015

    Dr. Ehrman,
    One question that keeps popping up in my mind about this general subject of how Jesus’ life was reconstructed for “publication” in the various Gospels that were written is how Old Testament texts shaped such portrayals of Jesus. It seems to me that it is reasonable to assume that early Christians believed Jesus to be the fulfillment of a zillion different Old Testament “prophecies” (whether or not those OT texts originally had anything to do with Messianic expectations is beside the point–was there a text early Christians couldn’t *pesher* if they wanted to?).

    For example: since even the Gospels give cause to assume that most of Jesus’ followers deserted him when he was sentenced to be crucified, how were those scenes reconstructed for inclusion in the Gospels? I’ve seen some scholars discuss Psalm 22 as a Messianic Psalm, but what if the reverse is true? What if Psalm 22 was used to construct a narrative of Jesus’ crucifixion that would have otherwise been difficult, since there were few, if any, living witnesses. Early Christians really loved Isaiah. What if the Septuagint version of Isaiah 7:14 and other texts were used to reconstruct part of Jesus birth narrative?

    Basically I’ve seen a TON of Christian apologetic stuff that claims Jesus is the fulfillment of so very many OT prophecies (therefore he is what orthodox/catholic, etc. Christian dogma says he is), but I have come to think that it is the reverse. The early Christian commitment that Jesus really was the Messiah caused them to use the Old Testament to not only engage in pesher interpretation of Biblical texts, but to even use Old Testament texts to tell the story of Jesus. This is especially the case where there was a lack of witnesses in the first place.

    Do various Old Testament texts substitute for living memory when such was not available for the Gospel writers?

    I’d LOVE to hear your take on this, and if it is something you already cover in your forthcoming book.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Yes, I think that does happen in a number of instances (e.g., a number of the details in the Passion narrative, such as the Triumphal Entry and the “he was silent” before Pilate motif). I’ll be dealing with that some in my new book out in March. A more rigorous discussion of just this issue can be found in John Dominic Crossan’s Who Killed Jesus.

      • Avatar
        willow  October 28, 2015

        I’ve always thought the Prophet Jeremiah inspired much of the Jesus narrative.

  13. Avatar
    rbrtbaumgardner  October 27, 2015

    Not to mention people lie. People have agendas. Or they simply believe the world is a certain way and what they hear and tell has to fit their frame. At least there wasn’t FOX News back then.

  14. Avatar
    ralliev  October 27, 2015

    Just wondering about John 15:4 being used to imply that Jesus has imparted his spirit into us and that we are being transformed into divine beings spiritually in the present time and will be transfigured physically in the future. I have heard it said that “the kingdom is now” in that Christ is among us and that Christians are his “dwelling place” on earth. using John’s Gospel to support that view. In your opinion does that view hold any water?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      The idea that the kingdom was present already among the disciples who knew him, and who then later received the Spirit, is more a teaching of Luke than of John, I would say. John doesn’t say much about the kingdom, other than that it is in heaven and not on earth (3:3, 5)

  15. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  October 27, 2015

    This is a very good refutation of the common idea that false stories would have been corrected in the first century, especially since Mary.and the eyewitnesses would have been dead long before the Gospels were written and even, if they were alive, they, obviously, would have not been able to correct stories in foreign lands. .

    Moreover, even with our 24-hour news cycle, it’s almost impossible to get today’s news stories correct. Just channel surf some night and see all the different “stories” instantly created regarding the same news event. So, it really is difficult to know what happened 2,000 years ago. As my 8-year-old neighbor recently told me about a matter, while he was helping me with my computer, “You are probably not exactly correct.”

  16. Avatar
    athena  October 27, 2015

    I still don’t understand why it is important that Mary was a virgin or should be a virgin EVEN in her later years. What’s up with all that?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      Well, it certainly made her different. And made her son special. Later it showed her superior spirituality by denying her physicality.

  17. Avatar
    Gary  October 27, 2015

    In my current discussion with a group of Christians on the subject of the Virgin Birth and your suggestion that Luke originally did not include the first two chapters, they counter that there is no evidence for this claim (there are no existing manuscripts of Luke that lack the first two chapters) and that we can reconstruct the original gospels to approximately 98% accuracy, so we KNOW what the originals said.

    They go on to accuse you of flip-flopping. They say that as a scholar you have stated several times in the past that we are able to reconstruct the originals and only in your books for the lay public do you suggest otherwise. Here is their exact comment:

    “This is Bart Ehrman the scholar, probably the best non-evangelical textual critic in the United States. The late Bruce Metzger, his PhD supervisor, is almost a legend in the field of textual criticism. Ehrman knows we know what the NT says. His popular work obfuscates the truth.”

    • Avatar
      Gary  October 27, 2015

      And another Christian involved in the discussion was more blunt:

      “That’s why I’ve often said in the past that Ehrman speaks with a forked tongue.”

      Dr. Ehrman: How would you respond to the accusation that you say one thing as a textual critic/scholar and another thing as a best-selling book author?

      • Bart
        Bart  October 28, 2015

        To my knowledge I have never done this. I’d love to see an example of what they mean, in print.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 28, 2015

      I’m constantly amazed at how people simply can’t read English sentences, and so make them say things they don’t say. If they can’t read my sentences (about the original text), why should we think they can read *any* sentences, including those of the Bible???

      • Avatar
        Mhamed Errifi  October 29, 2015

        hello bart

        i had that problem too with those people . i have debated many christian apologists online what it strucked they become dumb they no longer understand basic logic or english . this made me to say this holy spirit that they claim are filled with must be devil instead who made them dumb

  18. Avatar
    Adam0685  October 27, 2015

    Unrelated question – what books or research projects are you working on these days?

  19. Avatar
    dostonj  October 27, 2015

    Relatedly, Paul creates a virgin birth dilemma for Christians. Paul is the earliest textual witness to Christianity, yet he never once mentioned a virgin birth. Quite the contrary in fact. We have to address the fact Paul wrote that Jesus was “born of the seed of David according to the flesh” (Romans 1:3). If this is to be taken literally, then Jesus was born from David’s genetic line through natural conception. To be born of David’s *seed* (sperma in Greek) “according to the flesh” makes that clear. Furthermore, it’s quite peculiar that the only mentions of Jesus’ birth by Paul (Rom. 1:3 and Gal. 4) conspicuously omits even a hint of the virgin birth or the suggestion that Jesus’ conception and birth was anything but natural.

  20. Avatar
    Eric  October 27, 2015

    …or at least decades after she was assumed into Heaven?

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