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Why Don’t You Just Believe?

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QUESTION:

What do you have to lose by having faith and believing that Christ was born supernaturally as a result of a virgin birth to Mary, that Christ performed miracles, that Christ died by crucifixion and came back to life from the dead, and that Christ went back into heaven in a supernatural ascension into heaven?  I don’t see any downside.

 

RESPONSE:

I get this kind of question on occasion.  Usually when someone asks it they tie it to “Pascal’s Wager.”  In case you’re not familiar with it, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662 CE), mathematician that he was, thought in terms of percentages and odds.  And he applied it in a famous way to the question of belief – in an age when lots of intellectuals in Europe, and people they influenced, were having doubts about religious belief and becoming atheists.

In a kind of cost-benefits analysis, Pascal reasoned that if someone remained a believer, then if it turned out in the end they were wrong, it would have zero negative effects.  BUT, if they decided to become an atheist and they were wrong, that could have massive, eternal, and exquisitely painful effects.  And so, the only reasonable thing to do was to continue to believe.  There is a lot that can be gained and nothing to lose; and the alternative is to have nothing to gain and everything to lose.  No brainer, right?

And so this person’s question to me: there’s no downside!   So why not continue to believe in the traditional Christian doctrines about Christ?

Let me say at the outset that that I’m not at all offended by the question and understand the concern behind it, even if, as I’ll try to show, it’s not actually very thoughtful.  But still, it’s a question I myself used to ask of people back when I was a conservative evangelical who believed that only those with the proper beliefs would be given an eternal reward, and everyone else was doomed for the fire pits of hell.  For someone with that kind of view, it makes no sense for someone to risk it.  Why not believe?   What’s to lose?

But I have two responses that seem to me to be insurmountable.   I’ll give them by doing what you are never supposed to do, answering a question with a question (or in this case, two questions):

 

The first question I would ask this person is:   Are *you* able to believe something that you honestly do not think is true?

The question itself raises a much bigger issue: what does it mean to believe?  Does anyone really and genuinely think that authentic faith means mouthing certain words that you don’t actually subscribe to in order to be let off the hook?  Would God be convinced by that?  Wouldn’t he, uh, see through it?  I assume so.  So what good would it do for me to say that I believe something I don’t actually believe?

And how can I force myself to think something is true when I don’t think it is?  Belief isn’t mouthing words or lying to get off the hook.

 

The second question I would ask is, for me, the real zinger: Can it really be a simple case of either/or?  Either you believe or not?  In other words, is it really a case that if you choose to believe and you’re right, you may be saved, but if you’re wrong you will be damned?   Doesn’t that assume there are only two options: believe in Christ for salvation or don’t and be damned?

That may have made sense for Pascal, who lived in a world where, for all practical purposes, there were TWO options.  But what about our own world?  We don’t have two options.  We have scads of them.  And it is literally impossible to take them all.

That is to say:  If you want to make sure you cover your bases when it comes to salvation: WHICH religion do you follow?   Suppose you decide, OK, I’ll take Pascal’s wager and decide (somehow) to believe in Christ?   What if, it turns out, Christ is NOT the right option?  Or even, say, the only/best option?

In concrete terms:  what if you decide to believe in Christ and then it turns out the Muslims are right?  You could be damned forever for choosing the wrong option.  So how do you cover the Islamic option as well as the Christianity one?   And … well …  there are lots of religions to choose from.

Even within Christianity:  I know some Christians who have an entire detailed list of what you have to believe to be saved.   And I know other Christians who have a *different* list.  It is impossible to believe both at once, since they are at odds with one another.  On a most simple level, I know different Christians who believe that if you do not belong to *their* denomination, you will be damned; and even Christians who say that you have to be baptized in *their particular church* to be saved.  So what’cha gonna do?

On this logic, do you become Mormon to cover your bases?  And Catholic?  And Southern Baptist?  And a Jehovah’s Witness?  And an Independent-Bible-Believing-Hell-Fire-and-Brimstone Fundamentalist?  And …. ?

Really, when people come up with simple questions, I sometimes wonder what they are thinking.   Are they thinking?   At all?   Do they really think there are two choices in the world, and you might as well play it safe?

 

 

 

 


Final Tribute To Larry Hurtado
Thanksgiving 2019

63

Comments

  1. Barfo
    Barfo  December 1, 2019

    I remember when I became a born again Christian at age 18 I told a family friend about it. He was a Pentecostal Christian and he asked me if I had been filled with the Holy Spirit? When I responded “I guess so” he replied that if I didn’t speak in tongues and became “spirit filled” then I was not truly saved. So much of my Christian life I often wondered if he was correct. For most of my life I was what many would call a “backslider” as I enjoyed living what I considered a “normal” life, but there were times I would watch Christian television programs and one preacher would indicate (Harold Camping)….hold the laughter, that just because you believe you are saved you may not be if you were not one of God’s “elect.” My favorite television pastor over the years was Dr. Charles Stanley who preached once a person is saved it is for all eternity and there was no favoritism such as being part of the “elect.” No more confusion now thank goodness. In my opinion sin is nothing more than human nature and everyone is unique in that measure. No heaven, no hell, no worries.

    • Avatar
      tcasto  December 3, 2019

      Barfo, John Calvin promoted the idea of the elect with a compelling argument. If your salvation is from your personal choice, that would make you more powerful than god. And we can’t have that.

      The southern Baptist’s suffered a schism when a large number of congregations adopted Calvinism. I witnessed the angst of long time Christians who had to confront the possibility of not being chosen.

      Religion is hard!

  2. Avatar
    kentvw  December 1, 2019

    Guess you could say that you are prophet Ehrman. Sent by the gods to deliver the truth to the world.
    Repent and believe, then maybe go get some ice cream and enjoy your life.

  3. Avatar
    lutherh  December 1, 2019

    As is at least implied in the “first question” of your response, I think such people are missing an important reality: to believe or not isn’t really a choice. A person can choose to profess belief, to act out the rituals of any given faith, to associate with the faithful, but not to actually believe (or disbelieve). Once presented with whatever sets of facts, evidence, opinions, etc., a person is or isn’t convinced. But it’s not really a choice.

    • Avatar
      HawksJ  December 2, 2019

      Bart, I don’t know why you got rid of the likes, but they were handy for posts like the above.

      It’s a rather obvious point that I see rarely acknowledged; people don’t choose what they believe, they are exposed to evidence and are either convinced or unconvinced.

    • Avatar
      ubidubium  December 6, 2019

      Agree. I think this is related to the free will problem: If we have free will of any kind it seems pretty clear by now that it has very little to do with belief formation. Belief comes by way of conditions around us and neurological processes that we have little awareness of or control over. Beliefs happen to us, and when established they are difficult to change and resistant to contrary evidence. I did not choose to be an agnostic/atheist and whenever I have asked my Christian friends to describe their process of choosing to believe as a Christian they always have trouble describing it. If what I’m saying here is reasonable then the soundness, as well as the morality, of the doctrine of salvation in Christian theology is deeply flawed.

  4. Telling
    Telling  December 1, 2019

    Bart,

    I’m surprised you made this argument because you should know better than anyone that there is only one God and he is Jesus Christ who came to save those who believe. The others: Buddha, Krishna, Mohammad and the rest, even those figureheads who came before recorded history and who are to come beyond, even those from former and future worlds before our world was born; even before the universe was created; all of these past and present and future Masters of creation; they are all devils, here to mislead the elect. And who are the elect? They are those who were born yesterday into a Christian environment, the very, very, very, very, lucky. Only they will find life.

    As for me I continue to be saving each my teeth as they fall out one by one, and am stocking them under my pillow just in case; just in case that rumored tooth-fairy really does one night come and exchange those teeth for hard cash. Nothing to lose, I say.

  5. Avatar
    Hngerhman  December 1, 2019

    Wrt #1, yes, many many people have not thought through the fact that belief is an involuntary mental activity.

  6. Avatar
    AndrewJenkins  December 1, 2019

    Bart, thank you for the explanation; I agree that belief is not mouthing words. I am much more inspired by your description of the significance of gratitude, in a recent post, and share those feelings. I think that this can lead to trying to give of oneself to others in need, and that is what matters.

  7. Avatar
    Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  December 1, 2019

    Obviously it is a false dichotomy.
    But the cost / benefit analysis is also false. Because it’s not just about believing that Christ was born supernaturally as a result of a virgin birth to Mary, that Christ performed miracles, that Christ died by crucifixion and came back to life from the dead, and that Christ went back into heaven in a supernatural ascension into heaven, but there are many more things to believe in that can force you to do things that are unacceptable to you. As it is to condemn homosexuality, or legal abortion, or sex without the false morals and repressions of the Victorian Era, or praise a celestial dictator or putting God ahead of humanity, which is a terrible thing, as Stephen rightly states Weinberg

  8. Avatar
    Todd  December 1, 2019

    I’m not sure that all of what you said about making decisions to believe or not believing or being damned or going to hell or heaven and such really has much to do with what Jesus was all about. That seems to be something that churches invented after Jesus was dead and gone. I think it is more about love right now, and how we relate to our world society, our neighbors, our family and how we care for our home, our little space in this universe, our planet. Religion isn’t about what happens after we die; it is all about what we do here before we die…how we treat each other sencient beings and our planet. Religion that exhaults “being saved and going to heaven” while we rejoice in our neighbors being tortured in hell forever is the the height of selfishness. Religions too often kills love, which was what Jesus was all about. It is not just a choice of believing or not believing…there are other options, one being love and compassion for all creation. We don’t need organized religion to be a loving person.

  9. Avatar
    sjhicks21  December 1, 2019

    This is a great response to the same question which was posed by my 12th grade honor’s English teacher in High School and it may have kick started the skeptical inquiry that led me to atheism. She was a catholic and I was a protetant – not sure of the context but I know that’s what she said. The part I got hung up on was the first part of your response which was wouldn’t God know if I didn’t believe? Also, it didn’t seem to me that God could be that shallow that there was a way you could be converted just because you were hedging your bets. This led me to the notion that it seemed like God was blackmailing us into believing in him which seemed petty for a Supreme Being.

  10. Avatar
    Jonney38  December 1, 2019

    Homer Simpson covered this simply when asked by wife Marge why he couldn’t just come to church. Homer said, “It might be the wrong god there and the real one will be pissed off.”

  11. Avatar
    kevcan34  December 1, 2019

    Ive always thought Pascal’s Wager was dumb because it assumes God’s as much of an idiot as the rest of us. I’ve never considered your second question, but it made me think about how that would apply in my life if say my evangelical grandmother came at me with the question that was asked. You’re right grandma. I’ve decided that I’m Catholic again. No! Not THAT Christianity! My Christianity is the only way to salvation!

  12. Avatar
    doug  December 1, 2019

    For me, I can’t lie to myself without my self-respect taking a big hit. Plus, what kind of God would want me to lie to myself in order to believe in him/her/it?

  13. Avatar
    godspell  December 1, 2019

    What if all human religions have it wrong? What if God actually finds our prayers offensive? (I would.) What if the true religion died out centuries ago? What if it hasn’t been created yet? What if God just doesn’t care what church you go to, or whether you profess belief in Him/Her/It, but simply wants you to adhere to a basic ethical code? (This is not that different from what Jesus thought.)

    This is why Pascal’s Wager, as typically understood, doesn’t make much sense. You can’t lay a bet on a race without knowing all the horses. Handicapping is quite impossible without a betting sheet.

    But in a more general way, you could say that believing is more positive than disbelieving–faith of some kind leads to more desirable behaviors than Nihilism, which is basically just saying that nothing matters very much. (An attitude that can be found among both atheists and professed believers).

    And without GENUINE faith of some kind, what could possibly matter, other than eating, sleeping, and indulging our various animal instincts (nothing wrong with them, but our brains are much too complex to be fully satisfied by them, and we tend to be debased by acting as if only sensual pleasures matter).

    So I would interpret Pascal as saying bet on faith–whatever that faith may be. Bet on believing that some things DO matter, and that life is not just breathing, eating, drinking, procreating. There is such a thing as spirit, because we can feel it. And that part of us needs to be nourished, or it withers inside us.

    And look around. See where that leads. For atheists and theists alike. But not for all atheists and theists. Not for the ones with faith. In something. I don’t think Pascal would have expressed it quite that way, and it would have been unwise for him to do so then. But I think that might be the underlying point. Bet on faith. Because the only other horse in that race is Nihilism. And to hell with that.

    The divide is not between those who believe or disbelieve in God. It’s between those who believe deeply in SOMETHING beyond self-centered behavior, and those who don’t. And you can’t look at the behavior of many so-called religious people and think they fall into the first category. And you can’t look at the behavior of many professed atheists and think they’re so very different from the fundamentalists.

    Jesus understood very well that a Samaritan might be a truer neighbor to him than a fellow Jew. It’s like that. He bet on faith.

    • Avatar
      turbopro  December 2, 2019

      >> Bet on faith. Because the only other horse in that race is Nihilism.

      You know what a false dichotomy is, right.

      • Avatar
        godspell  December 4, 2019

        Obviously, since my post is about one–the supposed Theist/Atheist divide, encapsulated by the normal understanding of Pascal’s Wager.

        You can be religious and not really believe in anything. You can be anti-religious and have very deep beliefs. (Contrariwise, you can be theistic and be very intelligent, or atheist and have about as much depth as a coat of paint).

        In World War II, you had theists and atheists on both sides–forced to ally themselves with people whose religious beliefs were different from theirs. Hitler and his inner circle intended to destroy all theistic religion, but in the process of harnessing anti-semitism, were able to get many outwardly devout Christians to join with them (strange bedfellows).

        But on the other side (I’m talking about the anti-Nazi resistance in Europe) you also had people of very deep religious faith, Catholics, Protestants, and of course Jews, working with Marxists, rationalist skeptics, and many of a deep anti-clerical bent. They put their differences aside because what united them was more important.

        The dichotomy of atheist/theist didn’t work in WWII, because whether you professed belief in God or not had no direct bearing on which side you chose. The difference was between those who chose Faith and those who chose Nihilism. And again, there were theists and atheists in both camps. Because atheists can, in fact, have faith in things that can’t be proven. And theists can, in fact, believe in nothing very deeply, which explains how easily some of them abandon what seem to be established principles when they stand to benefit from doing that. Just as some atheists readily abandon rationality and science when that profits them in some way.

        Now you can disagree, and you probably will, but at least try to understand what you’re disagreeing with. Which might require a bit more self-understanding. And a somewhat less Manichean view of who is right or wrong.

  14. Avatar
    forthfading  December 1, 2019

    Dr Ehrman,

    This post made me start thinking of something. When Jesus told people that they needed to believe in him for salvation what was the context? Was he saying that believing in him as a literal person led to salvation or was he saying to believe in him and it would lead to salvation? Kinda like when I tell my kids to believe in me and trust in me and I will provide for them. Hope the question makes sense. ( and this is assuming that we have good evidence that Jesus actually asked people something like this).

    Thanks, Jay

    • Bart
      Bart  December 2, 2019

      You find that kind of question-answer in the Gospel of John, but not in the other Gospels. It appears to represent the theology of the author of this particular Gospel, rather than the views held by Jesus himself. For this author, faith in Jesus is the only way to salvation. I don’t think Jesus believed that at *all*.

      • Avatar
        ShonaG  December 2, 2019

        Jacques Ellul believed if there is a heaven than everybody goes because everybody receives grace, grace is a universal and not specific to Christians. That the only judgement is to see your life as it could have been through Gods eyes. Our ideas of heaven and hell are actually pagan in origin and not Christian.

        • Avatar
          godspell  December 5, 2019

          It would be interesting to list all the ‘Christian’ ideas that are actually pagan. Not surprising when converted pagans very quickly became the overwhelming majority in early Christianity, and Christians ruled the Roman Empire for several centuries. Influence is never one way–for good or ill. As I’ve said before, paganism never died. Just the outward practice of it.

  15. Avatar
    veritas  December 1, 2019

    I’ll do what your never supposed to; answer a question with a question. Ask your wife or mother, in which I believe are Christians, and see what their answer is as to why still believe? I would be interested to know. I hope I can weigh in to this great post, and articulate it well enough to make sense without being deliberately obtuse. First, I am an agnostic, and having this status allows me to investigate further without demeaning anyone. I don’t know if there is a God but I cannot dismiss one either (yet). In this post though, I think you have used too much thinking and left it’s simplistic message unscathed. I am no scholar, quit school in grade nine, but I am truly grateful of the life journey that was presented. I am just a few years younger than you, Prof. Ehrman, and I became a skeptic in my latter years. I reference you quite often, because you have shown me not to believe what someone tells me to believe. I think, I have a commonality with you in that regards. Furthermore, you have sparked more solid controversy, that quite often Christian scholars don’t want to submit to your point of view for personal reason/disgrace to their belief. You are bright. You present your findings as an alternative to the billions who believe and ask them to think. I was open to your teaching because having frequented five or six different denominations, which are mentioned in your post, I felt they could not all be right and having different rituals/rules to follow. Like you, I said this is crazy and how are they so different. Near the end of your blog, this point is well taken, ( I experienced that ). A far as your early points, your question 1 )….can you believe something that you honestly think is not true? In the 2010 winter Olympics in Vancouver, Canada, the Canadian Olympic teams motto was ,*Believe*. They went on to win the most gold and total count medals in their history. In the 1976 Lake Placid winter Olympics, the USA hockey team did the unthinkable under coach Herb Brooks. It was appropriately named,” A miracle on Ice “. There are numerous examples in other areas of life as well. My point is, these athletes, especially the American Hockey Team, went in with very little expectations, if any at all, and only hope…..to be continued

  16. Avatar
    robbeasley  December 1, 2019

    Belief is the hallmark of the issue within all religions. If a religion requires you to believe something , Don’t!

    • Bart
      Bart  December 2, 2019

      The interesting thing is that in ancient religions “belief” was not a central element at *all*. So too in many religions today. Christianity is a bit unusual that way (and the religions that came after it)

      • Avatar
        dankoh  December 2, 2019

        Do you think it’s fair to say Christianity was the first religion (that we know of) to say to base itself on belief? Or could we say that the Isis and other cults prevalent in the first century may have been a model for them to follow? Certainly Paul and the others didn’t get the idea from the Jews, who defined their religion by ethnicity (as did the Roman rulers).

        • Bart
          Bart  December 3, 2019

          It’s the first one, so far as I know. In that sense it was more like an ancient philosophy than a religion. But I would not underplay the importance of cult/ritual in teh early Christian communities. These were essential elements of the new religion as well.

      • Avatar
        hankgillette  December 2, 2019

        That is the only kind of religion where Pascal’s Wager would work.

        I assume that Pascal was already a believer when he formulated his Wager; otherwise, he might have spent some time explaining how you convince yourself to believe in something that you think to be untrue.

        • Avatar
          godspell  December 5, 2019

          “Act as if you have faith and faith shall be given.”

          Your mistake is assuming faith and dogma are the same thing. Jesus never did. Couldn’t say about Pascal.

  17. Avatar
    veritas  December 1, 2019

    ….Never in a million years did they, when asked, believe they would win any game or medal, let alone the gold. Interestingly, only a few players went on to make the elite NHL. These guys never imagined this ‘ Miracle’ would occur and yet it manifested. The Canadian Team also would not of said before the Olympics, ” We will win the most medals in our history”, how would they know. That’s right, it wasn’t in their expectations but only to perform well, (Hope). I don’t see faith as just mouthing words. I think we need to have it. When taking a plane to another city, that our children will come home safely from school, taking a car ride across the country, going on a fast and giant roller coaster. These all require faith that nothing will go wrong. Sometimes it does and we look for the most probable reasons, from so called experts, to try and make sense of what just took place. Faith does not answer everything. I respect your view, but don’t agree. You need not say nor force yourself to believe something is true, faith and hope takes care of that. It comforts your unbelief. I can’t stand some preachers/pastors who use their authority on the pulpit to impose a belief which they themselves don’t know what it entails. Number 2) your real zinger; I don’t think it’s a case of choosing like you broke it down, very thoughtful. For me it is not a question or choosing but rather how I live and treat others. Then, if there is a God it will be a bonus after death. There are lots of people who have incredible hearts, empathy/compassion and kindness towards others, yet they do not believe in a God or supernatural existence. I love people like that. They are pleasant to be around and never judge anyone. Again, I think this is simpler than you are making it out or struggling with. Lastly, to your original question, what have you got to loose by being a Christian? Nothing, to whatever religion you belong or don’t belong. I am not Jewish, but I like the word, Torah. In Hebrew, it means instructions. I have never met anyone, I mean anyone, who has completely surrender to God’s will and obeyed his laws. We can’t and never will because we are incapable. so how we live as people, not spirits or angels or gods, becomes our……..

    • Avatar
      JakSiemasz  December 5, 2019

      Religious faith is pretending to know something you don’t.
      Faith cannot determine truth – one can believe anything based on faith, even something that isn’t true.
      I don’t have faith in airplanes, I have experience and facts and science which explains flight. I can watch a plane fly.
      If a belief was backed by facts, one would justify their belief with facts, one would not need faith.

  18. Avatar
    AlbertHodges  December 1, 2019

    That is why that question only holds water with the believe and be saved forever doctrine…which is not what Christians in the beginning or for much of Church history.

    Believing in Christian doctrine should come at a personal cost. If your life isnt RADICALLY changed because of that belief, then it isnt Christianity to begin with…its just feel-goodism disguised as conversion.

  19. Avatar
    fedcarroll77  December 1, 2019

    Very interesting g post….. I truly never thought of it in the sense of your first response. When I was a Christian I was taught belief in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection was the only way for salvation. But you asked the right question….what is belief? When one says they believe the next action is mouthing words (prayer). Is that belief/faith? If one says faith comes from the heart, what is the heart? Soul? Consciousness? I could never answer that question. Could anyone truly answer that question? I don’t think we will ever know. But I think you are correct in saying belief seems to be “mouthing words”.

    The second response I’ve asked myself many times and from a statistical point of view it lacks. If you taa as me the 5 main religions of the world and then split them into the two dominate ones within those religions, you can only have a 10% chance of being right. How does one go about figuring out which one is right? And could you have faith in that one to know it’s right? For my answer…. if there is a deity out there I don’t think we can ever know whose religion is right. Plus if we had to choose and we are wrong and dammed to eternal torment then obliteration for being wrong, that to me seems way too cruel since you could never have known which one to choose from and which one was truly the deities religion.

  20. Avatar
    Tuskensp  December 1, 2019

    This time of year I would ask, “Why don’t you just believe that Santa really exists?”

    • Bart
      Bart  December 2, 2019

      Hey, there is absolutely no downside!!

      • Avatar
        mjoniak  December 3, 2019

        Actually, there is a downside: hypothetically, a God could exist that damns you for believing in Santa! Hey, a God could exist that damns you for believing in God!

        Logically, the wager doesn’t work when there is an infinite number of possibilities to choose from (and there is: we can just keep making up religions)…

      • Avatar
        Iskander Robertson  December 3, 2019

        “. I take Mark as reporting Jesus telling the man to go straight to the priest and not to stop along the way to tell others about your healing.”

        Dr Ehrman, the man is told not to go and report to others “along the way”
        Licona seems to be saying that the women did not report to anyone “along the way”
        but this is not addressing the emotions attributed to the women.

        “he is risen” they (the women) get an explanation, but :

        This is different from the ‘terror’, ‘amazement’, and ‘fear’ in 16,8. The Greek does not just speak of confusion or perplexity. They have already received an explanation, but here they are truly fearful, literally ‘trembling’, and ‘afraid’ and ‘outside’ themselves, totally at a loss to cope with what has been explained to them, and thus they flee and do not say anything to anyone.

        so how does liconas “along the way” make any sense when these women were full of fear?

        licona said:
        Moreover, Jesus predicts his death and resurrection several times in Mark (e.g., 8:31-33; 9:30-32; 14:28).

        but no appearance…he says “i will go before you to galilee, not that he will be seen there”

        it is the angel who says “there you will see him” but the women say nothing.

        “So, he already mentions a forthcoming resurrection appearance. Scholars disagree on when Mark was written. ”

        Dr Ehrman, do you buy the explanation that women kept silent “along the way” and then told?

        • Avatar
          Iskander Robertson  December 3, 2019

          full of fear. Ran away. Said nothing to anyone when they got an explanation “he’ not here, you guys came too late” the man who was healed was not in the trance the women were in.

        • Bart
          Bart  December 4, 2019

          Nope, not for a second.

          • Avatar
            Iskander Robertson  December 4, 2019

            “Dr Ehrman, do you buy the explanation that women kept silent “along the way” and then told?”

            Bart December 4, 2019
            Nope, not for a second.

            ///
            can i ask why not?
            would you expect something like “they said nothing to anyone, except….” ?
            why if mark knew they were full of joy does he portray it as a horror scene?

          • Bart
            Bart  December 6, 2019

            Because that’s not what the text says. It says “they did not say anything to anyone, for they were afraid.” Period. There is no “along the way” in the text.

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