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Video: Bart Ehrman vs. James White Debate

I wasn’t sure whether I should post this debate or not. Frankly, it was not a good experience. I normally do not have an aversion to the people I debate. But James White is that kind of fundamentalist who gets under my skin. To be fair, he would probably not call himself a fundamentalist. Then again, in my experience, very few fundamentalists *do* call themselves fundamentalists. Usually a “fundamentalist” is that guy who is far to the right of *you* — wherever you are! Someone on the blog can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe White does hold to the absolute inerrancy of the Bible. If so, given what else I know about him, I’d call him a fundamentalist.

In any event, he’s a smart fellow and came to the debate loaded for bear. But it’s good to see me at not my best as well as at my best.

So why not? Here’s the debate! The topic was, as you will see, over whether or not we have access to the “original” New Testament.

Part 1 of Debate. Please adjust gear icon for 720p HD (Uprezed from DVD):

Part 2 of Debate. Please adjust gear icon for 720p HD (Uprezed from DVD):

Response to the Response: How God Became Jesus
My Interview on Fresh Air



  1. Avatar
    BibleResearcher  March 6, 2016

    The only thing Dr. James White has to offer in addressing any related issues to your books and lectures is convoluting your personhood and scholarship with an Islamic dressing; I could almost swear that I have never seen your work referred to by him without the inclusion of Muslims into it!!!

    I still do continue to see Dr. White as being impolite towards you and lacking any decency in showing objectivity in addressing scholarship when asking/demanding for more debates. For one thing, he is in no position to declare you as an, [apostate]! Where does he think he lives, in the Vatican? He has no Judiciary mandate over anyone, including you Sir. I thought it was Islam that were accused by him for not giving Caesar what is Caesar ‘s!

    To me as I see it, is that if he were not quoting you addressing your own beliefs and stances, then he certainly has no right whatsoever in labeling you with a word such as, [apostate]. That is defamation and definitely NOT an honorable and honest invitation for debate, nor is it showing any regret for earlier misbehavior towards your person.

    We as Muslims endorse your work Sir without daring to infringe upon that which you yourself have in your heart towards your Lord, because we do not view you as a disbeliever -for a reason or another- and neither do we see in you a Muslim since you have already declared your status on the world’s stage (period) Hence, it bothers me a lot that Dr. White keeps inserting our name as ‘Muslims’ whenever he mentions you; however it does clearly show that he is in no scholarly position to confront you and is left with such childish plays that demonstrate bankruptcy in the first place.

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    mrdavidkeller  April 5, 2016

    By chance I came across a YouTube post Dr White put out this week directed toward you, a debate challenge of course, I recall a few years back he was on the verge of being nationally prominent as one of the growing number of credible concensus Christian apologetics but like Sarah Palin’s politics once you get to know more about his theology the less sense he makes, at any rate even if the debate fee’s go toward those in need, as a Christian I would discourage you from letting him bait you into appearing together, he speaks for an insignificant sliver of the billions of folks who identify as Christian and frankly he seems rude to the point of being just plain nasty as a person, even were you to trounce him in a debate, he wins by getting back into the growing sphere of those who are viewed as prominent apologetic scholars from either side, which seems to be his whole mission at this point.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 5, 2016

      I have to admit, I haven’t heard of any challenge from him, and if he wants to challenge me, it’s not hard to find my email! So I would assume this is all bluster.

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    VaulDogWarrior  October 17, 2016

    The process of Biblical transmission as revealed by textual scholars is shown to be an utterly human affair. You and White agree on this. White wants to claim that this was God’s way of preserving the NT text, even though it leaves us with no verifiable way of confirming this. How miraculous a constant stream of inspired scribes down to today would be! It’s the same with the original writing of the NT. What we see are various books written in various styles and competency levels. We do not see evidence, in the way it was written, of One Author. It looks utterly human, yet White would have us believe this is how God chose to do it. So it really doesn’t matter how human the Bible appears to be, believers will simply tell you this is how God has chosen to hand down His infallible Word to us. I think for many of us, the problem is that we were told the Bible was a Book of divine origin, yet upon closer inspection this is clearly not the case. This is a God-of-the-gaps type mentality, where as we become more aware of how things actually happened in the past, believers simply reinterpret how God did it. The same with Evolution vs. Creation. Once I rejected Creationism I very quickly saw through Evolutionary Creationism for what it was… It is simply the James Whites of the science world telling us that in spite of the fact that the whole thing looks totally natural, it was still orchestrated by God…

  4. Avatar
    glr  January 26, 2017

    Professor Ehrman, you made James White appear as a junior high, defensive, ignorant debater in this video. Coming from an evangelical, fundamentalist background, I have great respect for your knowledge and professionalism in such debates.

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    Elagabalus  May 12, 2017

    Bart Ehrman vs the Prince of F***ing Darkness! 😉

  6. Avatar
    Lilly  June 12, 2018

    By far, still my favorite. As you began to dominate the debate, especially during the cross examination portion , the tension in the air became almost palpable. I could feel the frustration rising from Mr. White as well as from the audience members. And the Q & A was brutal . I almost expected Bible’s to start whooshing through the air towards you in an effort to covert you back to Christianity , maybe through some form of osmosis.
    The ending was particularly , let’s say , interesting . I’m remembering the tie he gave you and how impressed he was by his gift. I guess it’s the thought that counts , but in the immortal words of , ‘ The Three Stooges ‘ …..’ It’s the thought that counts, but you could have thought of something different . ‘ 🙂

  7. Avatar
    dpdiaz  November 18, 2018

    Here’s how I scored the debate:
    Part 1: Intro comments. This was very close. Too close to call. I think both made clear well-stated comments. I think if we counted words, White came out the winner. He provided much more content IMO and his slides were easily read and understood. I also think he had an advantage in going second so that he could nuance his presentation to Ehrman’s.
    Part 2: Cross exam. Hands down Ehrman. Much more knowledgeable about the subjects.
    Part 3: Final statement. Toss up. Ehrman used up too much time on the defensive. White used up too much time preaching.
    Part 4: Q/A. Toss up. Questions are typically loaded.

  8. SBrudney091941
    SBrudney091941  November 6, 2019

    Even if we had the original of a New Testament book (and I don’t know how we could know it was not a copy of an earlier manuscript), that would have no bearing on whether it had been inspired by God, wouldn’t you agree?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 7, 2019

      Absolutely. We could have the original of Mein Kampf but it has no bearing on whether it is inspired or not…

      • Avatar
        MohammedFawzi  April 16, 2020

        Mr James White should not have mentioned about The Quran in a such Debate which discusses The Bible and its Transmission.. Obviously Mr James tried to get a confession or a Criticism about the Quran by using a red herring fallacy !
        Your reply Dr Bart , was sharp , precise , and professional!

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