Ehrman and this forum

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Ehrman and this forum

I saw this on a blog. What do you guys think? Is Ehrman right to stand against the biew that Jesus was a myth???

Below is an interesting introduction to Bart Ehrman’s new Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. As a New Testament scholar who has specialized in the gospels and early Christianity and also as a skeptic, he was confused by the regular stream of questions about the existence of Jesus and was largely unaware of the internet skeptics who spill an enormous amount of pixels writing on this issue.

Here’s how he opens the book:

* * *

Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesus existed. Everyone knows he existed. Don’t they?

But the questions kept coming, and soon I began to wonder: Why are so many people asking? My wonder only increased when I learned that I myself was being quoted in some circles—misquoted rather—as saying that Jesus never existed. I decided to look into the matter. I discovered, to my surprise, an entire body of literature devoted to the question of whether or not there ever was a real man, Jesus.

I was surprised because I am trained as a scholar of the New Testament and early Christianity, and for thirty years I have written extensively on the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the early Christian movement, and the history of the church’s first three hundred years. Like all New Testament scholars, I have read thousands of books and articles in English and other European languages on Jesus, the New Testament, and early Christianity. But I was almost completely unaware—as are most of my colleagues in the field—of this body of skeptical literature.

I should say at the outset that none of this literature is written by scholars trained in New Testament or early Christian studies teaching at the major, or even the minor, accredited theological seminaries, divinity schools, universities, or colleges of North America or Europe (or anywhere else in the world). Of the thousands of scholars of early Christianity who do teach at such schools, none of them, to my knowledge, has any doubts that Jesus existed. But a whole body of literature out there, some of it highly intelligent and well informed, makes this case.

These sundry books and articles (not to mention websites) are of varying quality. Some of them rival The Da Vinci Code in their passion for conspiracy and the shallowness of their historical knowledge, not just of the New Testament and early Christianity, but of ancient religions generally and, even more broadly, the ancient world. But a couple of bona fide scholars—not professors teaching religious studies in universities but scholars nonetheless, and at least one of them with a Ph.D. in the field of New Testament—have taken this position and written about it. Their books may not be known to most of the general public interested in questions related to Jesus, the Gospels, or the early Christian church, but they do occupy a noteworthy niche as a (very) small but (often) loud minority voice. Once you tune in to this voice, you quickly learn just how persistent and vociferous it can be.

Those who do not think Jesus existed are frequently militant in their views and remarkably adept at countering evidence that to the rest of the civilized world seems compelling and even unanswerable. But these writers have answers, and the smart ones among them need to be taken seriously, if for no other reason than to show why they cannot be right about their major contention. The reality is that whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist.

Serious historians of the early Christian movement—all of them—have spent many years preparing to be experts in their field. Just to read the ancient sources requires expertise in a range of ancient languages: Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and often Aramaic, Syriac, and Coptic, not to mention the modern languages of scholarship (for example, German and French). And that is just for starters. Expertise requires years of patiently examining ancient texts and a thorough grounding in the history and culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, both pagan and Jewish, knowledge of the history of the Christian church and the development of its social life and theology, and, well, lots of other things. It is striking that virtually everyone who has spent all the years needed to attain these qualifications is convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a real historical figure. This is not a piece of evidence, but if nothing else, it should give one pause. In the field of biology, evolution may be “just” a theory (as some politicians painfully point out), but it is the theory subscribed to, for good reason, by every real scientist in every established university in the Western world.

Still, as is clear from the avalanche of sometimes outraged postings on all the relevant Internet sites, there is simply no way to convince conspiracy theorists that the evidence for their position is too thin to be convincing and that the evidence for a traditional view is thoroughly persuasive. Anyone who chooses to believe something contrary to evidence that an overwhelming majority of people find overwhelmingly convincing—whether it involves the fact of the Holocaust, the landing on the moon, the assassination of presidents, or even a presidential place of birth—will not be convinced. Simply will not be convinced.

And so, with Did Jesus Exist?, I do not expect to convince anyone in that boat. What I do hope is to convince genuine seekers who really want to know how we know that Jesus did exist, as virtually every scholar of antiquity, of biblical studies, of classics, and of Christian origins in this country and, in fact, in the Western world agrees. Many of these scholars have no vested interest in the matter. As it turns out, I myself do not either. I am not a Christian, and I have no interest in promoting a Christian cause or a Christian agenda. I am an agnostic with atheist leanings, and my life and views of the world would be approximately the same whether or not Jesus existed. My beliefs would vary little. The answer to the question of Jesus’s historical existence will not make me more or less happy, content, hopeful, likable, rich, famous, or immortal.

But as a historian I think evidence matters. And the past matters. And for anyone to whom both evidence and the past matter, a dispassionate consideration of the case makes it quite plain: Jesus did exist. He may not have been the Jesus that your mother believes in or the Jesus of the stained-glass window or the Jesus of your least favorite televangelist or the Jesus proclaimed by the Vatican, the Southern Baptist Convention, the local megachurch, or the California Gnostic. But he did exist, and we can say a few things, with relative certainty, about him.


pauljohntheskeptic
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Another thread is already discussing this book

There is another thread where this is being discussed.

See Ehrman says " Yes the historical Jesus did exist http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/31548

jimenezj, a believer started it to attempt to prove his point, however he hadn't read the book, he saw a vid on the net.

I received my copy on the 23rd and agreed to give a summary and my review of it, which I'm doing as I read.

My view is that Jesus existed but not THE JESUS as propagated in the NT. What he was actually like has been obscured through legends and storytelling, but that's my view.

Ehrman sees other aspects that I do not always accept.

Feel free to give your views on his book as well.

PJTS

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Jeffrick
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IMHO

 

 

 

                     Ehrman is just plain wrong.  I use to think Jesus was a real person once just not a god . Now I am sure J.C. is total fiction. First off Jesus of Nazareth can't be since the latest evidence shows no Nazareth untill after 25 CE, the biblical reference was to "the Nazarene" ; Nazarenes' were a very austere anti-drinking sect of Judaisim, compared to Jesus the wine drinker & Jesus the wine maker [borrowed from the god Bacchus].  That is three[3] very different people right there.

 

 

                     Then there is the 'prince of peace' [Matt.5]  versus Jesus the sword weilder [Matt.10:35] "I do not come in peace...".  When he runs into his cousine John he becomes purified and sinless, except where he is born sinless and pure and does not require baptisim. Arguing with Rabbis in a synagoge at age 12 is what all Jewish boys do, even today, in their twelth year as they are preparing for their Bar Mitzvah at age 13.  I believe that is four [4] more different people.

 

 

                     Then there are other aspects of the New Testement that were flat out hijacked from other religions, the savior/son of god who dies for our sins is direct from Lord Mithras of the Zorastrian religion, even Julius Caeser made a reference to Jews makeing offerings to Mithras [on Vatican Hill] in around 90 BCE. All that wine drinking & makeing comes from Roman & Greek religions [Bacchus].

 

 

                     Mystic savior cults were common throughout the mid east at that time, each had their own version of the Massiah,  and it seems a lot of those different versions ended up in the NT. Not to mention any number of real itinerant preachers who were active at the time.

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Observer wrote:I saw this on

Observer wrote:
I saw this on a blog. What do you guys think? Is Ehrman right to stand against the biew that Jesus was a myth??? Below is an interesting introduction to Bart Ehrman’s new Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. As a New Testament scholar who has specialized in the gospels and early Christianity and also as a skeptic, he was confused by the regular stream of questions about the existence of Jesus and was largely unaware of the internet skeptics who spill an enormous amount of pixels writing on this issue. Here’s how he opens the book: * * * Every week I receive two or three e-mails asking me whether Jesus existed as a human being. When I started getting these e-mails, some years ago now, I thought the question was rather peculiar and I did not take it seriously. Of course Jesu...things, with relative certainty, about him.

 

It's funny how this post is similar to other posts by specific other person...

As for the info provided.... merely an opinion.

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 Didn't realize this was on

 Didn't realize this was on another thread. I don't use two accounts. Check my past posts. I've been here a while. I haven't posted in a while. I don't really have a dog in the fight. None of us can be certain why happened thousands of years ago. I will say this, Ehrman seems arrogant. He seems to think if you don't have his degrees you can't give valid input to this topic. He seems to mock the people against his position about as much as the position they hold. It is as if his degrees place him at a level that trumps those who claim Jesus never existed in history. 


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Jeffrick

Jeffrick wrote:

 

 

 

                     Ehrman is just plain wrong.  I use to think Jesus was a real person once just not a god . Now I am sure J.C. is total fiction. First off Jesus of Nazareth can't be since the latest evidence shows no Nazareth untill after 25 CE, the biblical reference was to "the Nazarene" ; Nazarenes' were a very austere anti-drinking sect of Judaisim, compared to Jesus the wine drinker & Jesus the wine maker [borrowed from the god Bacchus].  That is three[3] very different people right there.

 

                                                 

 

                                       Jeffrick, the Jewish sect that you refer to are actually called Nazarites.  The character named Samson of the Old Testament was also a Nazarite.

 

 

 

 

 

 

                    

 

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pauljohntheskeptic
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Observer wrote: Didn't

Observer wrote:

 Didn't realize this was on another thread. I don't use two accounts. Check my past posts. I've been here a while. I haven't posted in a while. I don't really have a dog in the fight. None of us can be certain why happened thousands of years ago. I will say this, Ehrman seems arrogant. He seems to think if you don't have his degrees you can't give valid input to this topic. He seems to mock the people against his position about as much as the position they hold. It is as if his degrees place him at a level that trumps those who claim Jesus never existed in history. 

I agree that it is not possible to know for certain what happened thousands of years ago. The Jesus storytelling happened in a period where many messiah wannabes were prevalent. There was constant rebellion in Judea from many sects of the Jewish beliefs. 2 major rebellions are proof of that. There were also minor skirmishes as well. The direct imposition of taxes by Rome after Herod died is an example. The revolts after his death resulted in considerable loss of life. The later rebellions such as in 70 and 132 CE had been heating up the entire 1st century.

Ehrman does come across as arrogant disrespecting those without a degree. There is much that he has presented that follows logically. However he also is fishing with some of his claims of what was likely. Though Ehrman always reminds the reader that he is not a Christian and is more or less agnostic or an atheist. His positions do enable him to sell many books though. As with all ancient history, it is not really possible to know what really happened. Ehrman does not seem to consider the impact of "storytelling" and legend development sufficiently on the Jesus stories in my view. Legends develop from simple occurrences into stories that have absolutely no resemblance to the event. When you have these stories occurring in an environment of dissent and rebellion as well additional distortion occurs. Then add 2000 years to it and language and cultural differences and virtually none of the real occurrences are likely to be understood. Ehrman basically however is only indicating that there was a historical Jesus, little more. How he gets there is sometimes questionable. But, as I don't have his same level of degrees, my views would matter little to him. In the end, Ehrman's work should be considered for what it is, educated estimation of ancient historical possibilities.

 

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"I guess it's time to ask if you live under high voltage power transmission lines which have been shown to cause stimulation of the fantasy centers of the brain due to electromagnetic waves?" - Me

"God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnibenevolent, - it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks please. Cash and in small bills." - Robert A Heinlein.


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Arguments to popularity do

Arguments to popularity do not convince me that jesus existed. There are dozens of credible alternatives, and absolutely no evidence at ALL to suggest jesus was a real person. I don't care who says otherwise. Without evidence, all there is, is speculation.

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Atheistextremist
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The proof of the existence of jesus is

 

based entirely on the literary historical method the weaknesses of which are generally outlined in this grab from wiki:

 

 

"Core principles:

The following core principles of source criticism were formulated by two Scandinavian historians, Olden-Jørgensen (1998) and Thurén (1997):[1]

Human sources may be relics such as a fingerprint; or narratives such as a statement or a letter. Relics are more credible sources than narratives.

Any given source may be forged or corrupted. Strong indications of the originality of the source increase its reliability.

The closer a source is to the event which it purports to describe, the more one can trust it to give an accurate historical description of what actually happened.

A primary source is more reliable than a secondary source which is more reliable than a tertiary source, and so on.

If a number of independent sources contain the same message, the credibility of the message is strongly increased.

The tendency of a source is its motivation for providing some kind of bias. Tendencies should be minimized or supplemented with opposite motivations.

If it can be demonstrated that the witness or source has no direct interest in creating bias then the credibility of the message is increased."

 

When you read the points above you can see how dangerously unbalanced the historical method is when applied to a supernatural religious doctrine as if it was an ordinary historical account such as the battle for Gaul or the clash between the Athenians and Persians in the Straits of Salamis, which we can consider to include editorial license and hyperbole but to preserve the actions of accepted historical figures like Julius Caesar, Pericles or Pheidippides. 

So we must wonder how many texts exist from the time of Jesus and what is the motivation of the texts, what is their authorship and what is their tendency towards bias? Challenging us is the fact there are many books written about a messanic character called jesus which date from around the time in question. These test the historical method sorely. 

My opinion is that there are no original or primary sources from the time of jesus and that the sources we have are mythical in tendency (Paul), or motivated towards bias. Any motivation towards bias severely discredits a source and in the case of the NT, we have writing that is already an apologetic. Many of the statements of Jesus are specifically in the form of apologetic.

I think using the literary historical method to prove the supernatural or to prove the authenticity of religious doctrine is a mistake. Many scholars, however, insist this method proves some one called Jesus probably did exist, and indeed must have existed if the historical method is to retain any validity.

In my unscholarly opinion, Christianity, which was born in a 'window' of messanic writings (subsequently preserved and polished and edited by a vast catholic administrative structure), is a special case when it comes to invoking the literary historical method. Personally, I think Ehrman, like many Jewish scholars, is a deist and he cannot bring himself to unpick the frail literary historical latticework on which also hang his own beliefs.   

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck