I assume that Bart Ehrman today when he reads the books of the New Testament sees large discrepancies between them. My question is about the precocious sixteen-year-old Ehrman, Did he too see this variousness (which opens up the possibility of inconsistency)? Or did it all as he read it cohere, seem of a piece, convey one doctrinally comprehensive and orthodox and uniform message? And if it did, how does today’s Ehrman think young Ehrman managed to overlook all those obvious discrepancies?
The sixteen-year-old Bart Ehrman who revered the Bible was probably like almost every sixteen-year-old on the planet who reveres the Bible. We were (and people are still now) taught that the Bible was the inspired Word of God. We knew that it was God’s revelation to humans before we had ever read a word of it. Even before I was an evangelical Christian I simply assumed it had been given by God.
If that’s what a person simply assumes before coming to the Bible, then when she or he reads the Bible, that belief will simply be confirmed. This is God’s Word. That affects how the Bible is read. If you assume God gave these words, then if there is anything puzzling in them, it is simply a puzzle that needs to be worked out. There aren’t any problems with what the Bible has to say. There are only problems with the people trying to read and understand it. Any “problem” is with the reader, not with the text being read.
If you approach the Bible that way, you simply do not see discrepancies. You literally don’t see them. If someone points one out to you, you simply assume that the person hasn’t learned how to read the passages correctly. There are not discrepancies. There are only failures to understand.
Even today I have people – all the time, actually – ask me: “Why doesn’t everyone see this contradiction?” My response is usually:….
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