We now continue considering the legend of Bart the gnostic hero Ehrman as he attempts to discredit the Bible and Christianity.
Let us consider the physical resurrection:
Ehrman says he doesn't think the resurrection took place. There's no proof Jesus physically rose from the dead, and the resurrection stories contradict one another, he says. He says he doesn't believe the followers of Jesus saw their master bodily rise from the dead, but something else.
“My best guess is that what happened is what commonly happens today when someone has a loved one die -- they sometimes think they see them in a vision,” Ehrman says. “I think some of the disciples had visions.”1
This is fascinating as we get a window into Bart Ehrman’s conflicted mind. How so?
Well, he 1) denies that the resurrection occurred because 2) there is no proof 3) Jesus’ followers did not see His body rise from the dead and 4) the resurrection stories contradict one another therefore, 5) something else took place.
But why the affirmation of the “something else” such as his evidence-free assertion that they had visions? After all, Ehrman supposedly proved that “At least 19 of the 27 books in the New Testament are forgeries”2 and all of them are concocted tall tales which are unreliable. Why does he still feel the need to explain the resurrection? Because he somehow knows that he cannot deny it and simply must do something about it. Why not simply state that there is no evidence, there are contradictions, the New Testament is a late dated error filled concoction and the resurrection is a quaint story like them all?
Moreover, for Bart Ehrman the issue of the resurrection is not only about no evidence, no witnesses, contradictions and visions but even if it did take place it would be un-provable:
The debate [with Mike Licona] topic is, “Can historians prove that Jesus was raised from the dead?” and he's going to be arguing yes and I'm going to be arguing no. I'm not going to be arguing that Jesus was not raised from the dead; what I'm going to be arguing is that even if he was raised from the dead, historians can't prove it, because of the nature of historical evidence, you can't prove something like a miracle. You can believe it, but you can't prove it.
Just as with science or any other field or method of research and study: history has its limitations. He might as well argue, as he does, that history never proves anything at all. In fact, let us grant that: Bart Ehrman claims that “In my class, I don't simply tell them my opinions”3—fine, what is be telling his students? He is presented unbiased conclusions from his historical research. He is merely presenting the historical data which proves that, for example, “At least 19 of the 27 books in the New Testament are forgeries,” the resurrection did not happen, the New Testament books are late dated, the Trinity is not original to the original Christians, etc.
This is precisely what Dan Brown argued in stating, “How historically accurate is history itself?”4 While there is some legitimacy to this statement it is also a tool by which to deny any possibility of objectivism while likewise allowing one to deal creatively with historical facts. Let us not make the claim of pure subjectivism in history a self-fulfilling prophecy by dealing loosely with the facts—on purpose. If history is not historically accurate, how can Brown claim to base his novel of historical fact? He introduces his fictional novel The Da Vinci Code by stating, “FACT” and then goes on to claim that Jesus was married, etc.
How could history accurately prove the points that Ehrman and Brown want to make but it cannot accurately prove that which those with whom they disagree appeal to in order to debunk their claims? This is a substandard double standard.
Bart Ehrman surely knows that, for example, the affirmation of Jesus resurrection found in 1st Corinthians 15 is dated to five or so years after the resurrection as Paul affirms, in the technical language of “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received” that “Christ died for our sins” then “He was buried” that is, He, Jesus, died and His corpse, His physical body, was buried “and that He rose again” that is, He, Jesus, His corpse, his physical body, rose from the place in which it was buried. Thereafter, He, Jesus, was physically “seen by Cephas, then by the Twelve….Afterward He was seen by over five hundred brothers at once, of whom the greater part remain until this present day, but also some fell asleep” this means, some were still alive; go and ask them, “Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. And last of all He was seen by me also.” As for the pains to which Jesus went to prove to them that He was physically present, see my essay here.
But why, when as opposed to the Ehrmanian mythos, such information has been in print for a very long time has Ehrman become enriched, a celebrity and the go-to-guy for anti-Christian publications and documentaries?
Misquoting Jesus for some reason really sort of caught people's attention in a way the other books didn't, I think in part because it's less academic than the other books…
I think people latched on to that because it made it more down to earth and they could see the significance of it better instead of just talking about it as a kind of academic exercise. That's what I've continued doing… it affected my personal faith.5
When asked, “Do you think the success of your books is part of a trend of fact-based intellectually inquiry that's being popularized?” he made reference to the popularity of anti-Christian intolerance (some which is very much deserved indeed):
there does seem to be an aspect of the culture war that's going on right now where the religious right that has sort of controlled religion for a long time in this country, you do seem to have a backlash against it.
On the far left of that are the new atheists, people like Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, who are really embracing atheism and are attacking religion.6
Ad to this the contemporaneous publishing by other anti-Christian media darlings such as Elaine Pagels with her “The Gnostic Gospels” and 7 These old conspiracy theories that Christians debunked long ago and many times since are being repackaged for an antagonistic, not very well informed, short attention spanned, pop-culture. Note that indeed, Ehrman recognizes that he succeeds by playing upon the heartstrings of his readers and not upon their scholastic minds.
In fact, it is widely recognized that the academic/scholarly critiques of Bart Ehrman’s academic/scholarly books were ignored and he merely repackaged those works, peppered them with emotionally charged anecdotes and regurgitated them directly into the eager mouth of youthful pop-culture as he rode upon the tsunami wave of anti-Christian belligerence. Indeed, Misquoting Jesus is “less academic” enough to obfuscate the facts and present readymade, scare-quote based, talking points.
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