Bart Ehrman Schools the Infidel Guy

by Luke Muehlhauser on March 24, 2010 in Criticism of Atheists,General Atheism

Above, the Infidel Guy (Reggie) interviews agnostic Bible scholar Bart Ehrman. One interesting thing about the interview is that it’s clear Reggie has been listening to too many atheist apologists rather than actually becoming a student of history and historical method.

I see this quite often among both skeptics and believers. They familiarize themselves with how apologists for either side use logic and evidence in the context of a very narrow debate about atheism vs. theism, while being relatively oblivious to the larger picture. This is obvious above when, for example, Ehrman has to explain to Reggie that “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.”

This focus on Christian apologetics or atheistic apologetics is a real handicap. I realize that for many people the atheism vs. theism debate is but a passing interest. But for those who spend as much time on it as I do, it’s really important to make sure your introduction to logic and epistemology and historical method and philosophy does not come solely to you through the lens of atheism vs. theism. There are bigger lessons to be learned here.

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{ 98 comments… read them below or add one }

Justfinethanks March 24, 2010 at 8:59 pm

Probably the most cringe inducing moment:

IG: But there are many historians who disagree with you. Aren’t they?

Ehrman: No. None that I’ve ever heard of. Not serious historians.

IG: Not serious historians. (As if the existence of non-serious historians vindicates him)

Whenever I listen to an atheist argue for Jesus mythicism, I think I kind of learn what it feels like to be a theistic evolutionist listening to someone argue for biological intelligent design. All I can think is “Your claims are wholly contradicted by the evidence, no one who actually works in the field takes your claims seriously, and all you are doing is making people like me look dumb.”

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Alex March 24, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Personally, I think this radio interview “debate” was more a misunderstanding between the authorship of all of Paul’s letters vs. just Galatians. I suspect Reggie jut hooked on to the wrong letter, and should probably have gone with Hebrews instead.

But apart from that, I feel more that this guy was hopelessly prepared. He asked a question (“why do people doubt X?”), then when the answer come in a question (“Who doubts X?”) he doesn’t have his shit together in order to answer, and he goes into apologetic territory for himself. It’s – indeed – quite embarrassing, and just poor journalism.

I guess your criticism dips into that, but I don’t think this was a fail on atheist vs. theist grounds, just simply on journalistic ones.

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Nerf Herder March 24, 2010 at 9:19 pm

“They familiarize themselves with how apologists for either side use logic and evidence in the context of a very narrow debate about atheism vs. theism, while being relatively oblivious to the larger picture.”

Luke, are there any particular books that you recommend that deal with the bigger picture (epistemology, logic, historical method, etc.)?

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Jake de Backer March 24, 2010 at 9:25 pm

When I first started speaking to other infidels about my new found impiety, there was a universal piece of advice; start listening to The Infidel Guy Show.

I gave it a try a few times, and I have to admit now as I find this the most appropriate time to do so, I think he is fucking terrible. He stutters, stumbles, rants, and talks over his guest’s. I think he should restrict his duties to merely bringing atheism vs. theism debaters together.

J.

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svenjamin March 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

“it’s really important to make sure your introduction to logic and epistemology and historical method and philosophy does not come solely to you through the lens of atheism vs. theism. There are bigger lessons to be learned here.”

couldn’t agree more. For me, the priority is always coming to the best understanding possible, and this means critically assessing ones own methodology/theory/perspective/logic. I have friends who actually argue against Christianity using the Zeitgeist/Religulous “Jesus is just another version of Horus” nonsense invented in the 1800s…Just because it happens to support their position. Arrgh…

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svenjamin March 24, 2010 at 10:45 pm

I hadn’t heard internet infidel guy before. It was pretty painful listening to him playing the hyberbolic doubt game on the evidence for the historical Jesus, and then interrupting Ehrman when Ehrman tried to describe some accepted historical criterion for dealing with ancients texts and what the results are when we do so. Internet Infidel guy is obnoxious.

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Steven CArr March 24, 2010 at 11:35 pm

‘”we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.”‘

In other words, there is no evidence for judas, Thomas, mary Magdalene, joanna, Salome, joseph of Arimathea, Bartimaeus, Jairus, Nicodemus, lazarus, the other Mary, Simon of cyrene, Barabbas etc.

But we have lots of evidence for Jesus.

He is in all those books that mention Judas, Thomas, mary Magdalene, joanna, Salome, joseph of Arimathea, Bartimaeus, Jairus, Nicodemus, lazarus, the other Mary, Simon of cyrene, Barabbas etc.

We have tons of evidence that Popeye was based on a real historical person – Frank Fiegel.

And yet some crazies claim that Popeye never existed!

Bizarre! These people have no idea of how history is done.

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Steven CArr March 24, 2010 at 11:44 pm

A real historian knows that something happened if it is not mentioned in a book.

Take a real historian like John Paul Meier.

On page 169 of ‘A Marginal Jew’ JP Meier writes about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist that ‘the event simply never occurs in John’s Gospel’

Meier regards the baptism as historically certain, and gives the silence in John’s Gospel as part of the evidence for this certainty.

Of course the event is certain. Look , it simply never occurs in John’s Gospel. That is proof that it happened.

No wonder Reggie wasn’t prepared properly. He has absolutely no idea that historians know something happened if the event ‘simply never occurs’ in a text.

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Steven CArr March 25, 2010 at 12:07 am

And, of course, historians like Bart Ehrman have already looked at mythicism in great detail and refuted it.

It has been refuted so much that Ehrman doesn’t know the names of any mythicists.

No wonder Ehrman showed up the sheer ignorance of Reggie when Ehrman said he had never heard of these people.

I bet Reggie realised how ignorant he was when Ehrman pointed out that Bart had never heard of these people.

Just like Christians realise their ignorance when William Lane Craig challenged Dawkins to a debate and Dawkins said he had never heard of Craig.

I bet Christians felt slapped down and igorant when Dawkins said he had never heard of Craig.

Just like Reggie was slapped down and ignorant when Ehrman said he had never heard of these mythicists.

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Dan March 25, 2010 at 12:51 am

“It has been refuted so much that Ehrman doesn’t know the names of any mythicists.”

good point. Ehrman has talked the mythicism issue in the same way many times before.

It was strange that he conceded towards the end that he’d not only exchanged emails with Price but also read at least one if his books. Maybe he just skipped through it.

I suspect that just like the way most scientists choose to stay well clear of cold-fusion or paranormal research, Ehrman doesnt want to give anyone the impression that he has looked into this too much, since it might affect his own academic standing.

Trouble is he now makes money from his more populist books, whose readership IS likely to be interested ( even if naively ) in the mythicist position, or even if not – read books by Robert Price.

Although i havent been persuaded by the mythicists i’d love to hear Ehrman go head to head with Robert Price. Maybe now Price is part time host on Points of Inquiry this might happen.

I Enjoy listening to prices podcasts ( helps me go to sleep and he has a great dry sense of humor if nothing else ). Price does seem to be annoyingly carefree with how he posits interpolations and redactions throughout the texts. And exhibits very little if any scepticisim about the “theories” sometimes suggested by his listeners who submit email questions.

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Haecceitas March 25, 2010 at 12:59 am

I love it how IG jumps from “no Jesus” to “Multiple Jesuses” right away.

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Dan March 25, 2010 at 1:03 am

Although Reginald did truly embarass himself here with his total lack of preparation, and I don’t think this is the first time Reg has interviewed and bought this up with Ehrman, I have to cut him a little more slack, It was after all on his show that I first heard of and was impressed by Alonzo Fyfe :)

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 1:07 am

DAN
I suspect that just like the way most scientists choose to stay well clear of cold-fusion or paranormal research, Ehrman doesnt want to give anyone the impression that he has looked into this too much, since it might affect his own academic standing.

CARR
That is how to ‘school’ somebody.

Get somebody who has not looked into it very much, and he is the ideal person to ‘school’ somebody on the subject.

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Alex March 25, 2010 at 1:16 am

Steven : You’re now jumping well ahead of things. First, I think the “as much evidence for Jesus as for Julius Cesare” must be taken with a great pinch of salt; the only Jesus literature is heavily biased and one-sided, while for Cesare that is simply not true, and the latter is better evidence than the former.

This is something you vaguely dip into in your second comment, although I don’t think using another author as a straw-man for this bottle of Kerosene is right.

Your third comment is all about ego’s and selective memory. That wasn’t the point of this blog post, if I remember correctly? The argument wasn’t made from apparent ignorance, but from specialty with a given field, and the Jesus as a mythicist is not Bart Ehrman’s field, quite far from it, so I think he’s perfectly allowed not to know who the hell those people are; it’s not his fight.

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Rhys Wilkins March 25, 2010 at 1:23 am

Even Bob Price does not assert that Jesus never existed!

His view is that all of the recorded writings and parables of Jesus are hagiography which may have been unduly influenced somewhat by Hellenistic dying rising savior myths. Well I think that’s his line of thinking at least. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

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Haukur March 25, 2010 at 2:22 am

Richard Carrier has a good article comparing Jesus and Caesar.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 2:55 am

‘ so I think he’s perfectly allowed not to know who the hell those people are; it’s not his fight.’

So how did he ‘school’ Reggie when Ehrman does not know who mythicists are?

In the same way that Dawkins ‘schooled’ Christians by not knowing who Craig was?

And in what other field do ‘serious’ (to use Ehrman’s word) historians say that something happened because it ‘simply never occurs’ in one text?

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Bram van Dijk March 25, 2010 at 5:28 am

Take a real historian like John Paul Meier.
On page 169 of ‘A Marginal Jew’ JP Meier writes about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist that ‘the event simply never occurs in John’s Gospel’
Meier regards the baptism as historically certain, and gives the silence in John’s Gospel as part of the evidence for this certainty.
Of course the event is certain. Look , it simply never occurs in John’s Gospel. That is proof that it happened.

I didn’t read A Marginal Jew, but Ehrman makes the same argument in The New Testament and its a very sensible argument:
1. Jesus’ baptism is mentioned in other gospels than John.
2. Christians had motives to downplay John the Baptist.
3. Jesus’ baptism was (probably) not made up by christians (from 2).
4. Jesus’ baptism was probably historical (from 3).

The fact that John doesn’t even mention Jesus baptism is evidence for 2. So there you go… It’s not rocket science, just a very simple argument.

Bart makes a similar argument when he talks about Paul mentioning James (the brother of the lord) in Galatians.

The Reggie denying that Paul wrote Galatians or could have lied kicks off the whole thing.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 6:03 am

I see.

So the fact that ‘John’ mentions no baptism is evidence that Jesus was baptised.

No other branch of history would dream of using such junk science to prove something happened.

And for 30 years, Christians had allegedly had motives to downplay this baptism.

And yet the first Gospel has no downplaying at all.

The logic seems to go like this:-

We know from the Gospels that Christians who retold the story of this baptism downplayed it.

Mark did not downplay it.

Therefore,Mark was retelling story that had been told for decades before him.

But once Christians saw it on paper, they realised they had to put some spin on it…

In the real world, if this baptism had to be downplayed by Christians, that would have happened before Jesus was cold in his grave.

And if the second person to mention this baptism would downplay it, it follows that Mark was the FIRST person to mention this baptism.

Otherwise there would have been three decades of spin BEFORE ‘Mark’ wrote about this baptism.

Mark must have made it up, unless Christians had been too dumb to realise that they ought to do something about this story that had allegedly been embarrassing them for decades before Mark wrote it down.

And there isn’t, as Ehrman claims the spin only started after Mark wrote about it.

And, of course, Luke/Acts never mentions Jesus having any brother called James. (Which Ehrman did not know until I told him)

Nor do the Epistles of James or Jude.

And Mark has no hint that this brother called James went on to be the leader of the church.

So to say that ‘brother of the Lord’ can only have one meaning is deeply tendentious when a semi-official history like Acts has no connection whatever between these ‘brothers of the Lord’ in 1 Corinthians 9 and the brothers of Jesus, who are mentioned in Acts 1 and then vanish from history like the Angel Moroni vanished.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 6:05 am

JC vs. JHC

Works written by Julius Caesar: The African Wars, The Alexandrian Wars, The Civil Wars, The Gallic Wars, The Spanish Wars
The historical J.C. is also mentioned in works written by others during his lifetime, such as those of Cicero and Sallust.

Works written by Jesus H. Christ: 0

Mentions of JHC by others in works written during his lifetime: 0

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 6:08 am

And you don’t get members of the Julius Caesar fan club saying that Romans would not have heard about Julius if not for them preaching about him…

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 6:12 am

And we don’t get the earliest members of the Julius Caesar fan club saying that Julius-fans get access to the flesh and blood of Caesar in a ritual, cultic meal.

Not that there is anything reeking of mythicism in early Christian claims that the flesh and blood of their founder was conjured up in a ritual meal…..

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drj March 25, 2010 at 6:42 am

JC vs. JHC
Works written by Julius Caesar: The African Wars, The Alexandrian Wars, The Civil Wars, The Gallic Wars, The Spanish Wars
The historical J.C. is also mentioned in works written by others during his lifetime, such as those of Cicero and Sallust.

Works written by Jesus H. Christ: 0
Mentions of JHC by others in works written during his lifetime: 0  

I think this pretty much says it all right here.

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lukeprog March 25, 2010 at 6:50 am

Nerf,

Sense & Goodness Without God is pretty good, but for logic and epistemology in general you can pick up stuff like ‘A Rulebook for Arguments’ by Weston and ‘Epistemology’ by Audi. There are hundreds of good books on these subjects.

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Bill Maher March 25, 2010 at 6:55 am

It weirds people out when I say that Jesus existed. Anyone with any ancient near-east history training will agree with me. Only fringe nuts think he didn’t.

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lukeprog March 25, 2010 at 6:56 am

Rhys,

That’s my understanding of Bob Price, too.

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lukeprog March 25, 2010 at 6:57 am

Our evidence for Julius Caesar is much better than for Jesus. Was anyone denying this?

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 6:59 am

Someone needs to “school” Ehrman about Julius Caesar.

BTW, having recently read God’s Problem, I have the impression that Ehrman might be great on the textual stuff, but does not seem terribly sophisticated on the broader philosophical aspects of atheism vs. theism. He seems to take the existence of free will for granted, and has this to say on agnosticism vs. atheism:

I don’t know if there is a God. I don’t call myself an atheist, because to declare affirmatively that there is no God (the declaration of atheists) takes far more knowledge (and chutzpah) than I have.

Maybe someone should “school” him on how much chutzpah he must have not to believe in Santa Claus.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 7:01 am

Our evidence for Julius Caesar is much better than for Jesus. Was anyone denying this?  

Bart Ehrman made that comparison in the first video.

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Haukur March 25, 2010 at 7:05 am

Our evidence for Julius Caesar is much better than for Jesus. Was anyone denying this?

No, not in so many words – but it would be easy to misunderstand Ehrman that way. His statement that “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period” comes in a discussion where the only other ancient people mentioned are Caesar, Cicero, Paul and James.

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Robert Oerter March 25, 2010 at 7:21 am

Interesting. I have read “Deconstructing Jesus,” by Robert M. Price, and have heard his name mentioned often, so I was surprised that Ehrman wasn’t very familiar with him. His website (http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/) lists him as “Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies, Colemon Theological Seminary”. According to the website of said seminary, there are currently a total of three courses offered, two of which are taught by Price. They cost $50 each.

So maybe Ehrman was not strictly correct about Price not having a teaching position. Still, I may have been over-estimating Price’s standing in the field.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 7:59 am

BILL
It weirds people out when I say that Jesus existed

CARR
I guess Popeye existed, as Popeye was based on a real historical person.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 8:06 am

I see nobody has come up with other facts of history that were established because they ‘simply never occur’ in a text.

John’s Gospel omits any mention of a baptism of Jesus, while the synoptics mention a baptism.

That proves it really happened, by the criterion of embarrassment.

Of course, John’s Gospel mentions a disturbance in the Temple instigated by Jesus, and the Synoptics also mention a disturbance in the Temple.

That proves it really happened, by the criterion of multiple attestation.

So if something is not mentioned then it is historical, and if something is mentioned it is historical.

No wonder ‘serious’ historians have been failing for a hundred years or more to find an Historical Jesus that people agree on…

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Badger3k March 25, 2010 at 8:09 am

Luke, obviously you don’t know anything about history or the historical method. Ehrman is pushing his pet theory, the one he wrote books on and makes him money. When Ehman says that there is more evidence for Jesus than there is for Caeser? Really? All the statues, writing, coins, numerous mentions by people at the same time, compared with a few mentions of Christians from 30+ years later. Totally the same. Whether the mythicists are wrong or not is irrelevant – Bart Ehrman may be a biblical scholar, but a historian he is not, and confusing probability of existence with evidence is a sloppy, ignorant mistake. That and his petty comments on Price, who despite his rather unusual views has two doctorates related to the Bible and has taught it as well, something that I believe Ehrman knows (he has communicated with him, and possibly met), even though he claims not too. Sorry, I lost all respect for Ehrman as an honorable human being. But, when you have books to sell, why not lie?

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Briang March 25, 2010 at 8:15 am

A real historian knows that something happened if it is not mentioned in a book.Take a real historian like John Paul Meier.On page 169 of ‘A Marginal Jew’ JP Meier writes about the baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist that ‘the event simply never occurs in John’s Gospel’Meier regards the baptism as historically certain, and gives the silence in John’s Gospel as part of the evidence for this certainty.Of course the event is certain. Look , it simply never occurs in John’s Gospel. That is proof that it happened.No wonder Reggie wasn’t prepared properly. He has absolutely no idea that historians know something happened if the event ’simply never occurs’ in a text.  

This is a distortion of Meier’s argument. Meier isn’t saying that John didn’t mentioned it, therefore it happened. Meier’s argument is that Jesus’ baptism meets the criteria of embarrassment. The argument is that since Jesus was believed to be the Son of God, that early Christians wouldn’t make up a story about him being baptized, since John’s baptism was “for the forgiveness of sins”. He then argues that all four Gospels try to deal with this problem in different ways. This shows that the embarrassment isn’t just a difficulty created by modern theologians, but for the Gospel writers as well. Meier’s point about John’s Gospel is that John dealt with the difficulty by omitting Jesus’ baptism, even though he talks about John’s baptizing and the spirit descending as a dove.

I find it strange to bring up Meier’s argument in this context. You beat down a straw man and then imply that all historical scholarship is suspect. Somehow I suspect your weren’t counting on anyone else actually having read Meier’s argument.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 8:19 am

‘Meier isn’t saying that John didn’t mentioned it, therefore it happened. Meier’s argument is that Jesus’ baptism meets the criteria of embarrassment#

Yes,Meier claims John was embarrassed by it, therefore did not mention it, therefore it happened.

How do we know he was embarrassed by a baptism he does not mention?

Because he does not mention any baptism. QED.

And, of course, the fact that Christians were embarrassed by it, proves that Mark made it up.

Because there is no trace of this alleged 30 years of spin that there would otherwise have been before Mark wrote.

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Briang March 25, 2010 at 8:59 am

Steven Carr,

It’s not just that John leaves something out, as if he may have forgot. John tells the story of John preaching and baptizing in the desert. He talks about how the spirit descended on Jesus. (In Mark this happens when Jesus was baptized.) But, conveniently, John says nothing about Jesus actually being baptized. Do you really think this is an accidental omission?

Testimony against interest, is a well accepted principle for evaluating human testimony. It’s accepted not just in biblical studies but in the legal system as well. Testimony against interest is an exception to the hearsay rule in US courts.
Somehow, while the rest the world thinks that a confession is strong evidence of guilt, you alone think that a confession is actually evidence of innocence.

you write:
“And, of course, the fact that Christians were embarrassed by it, proves that Mark made it up.

Because there is no trace of this alleged 30 years of spin that there would otherwise have been before Mark wrote.”

This doesn’t make any sense. Mark is generally thought to be the first Gospel written, so how could there have been evidence of “spin” before he wrote? Why would a story have been preserved even though it’s embarrassing? Probably because it was a well known fact that Jesus was baptized by John. When people told the story of how Jesus’ ministry got started, they talked about John the baptist.
To say Mark invented the story doesn’t solve anything. Why would Mark invent a story about Jesus that was embarrassing? Why did Matthew and Luke just go along with this?

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Chris Hallquist March 25, 2010 at 9:09 am

Our evidence for Julius Caesar is much better than for Jesus. Was anyone denying this?  

Second Selkirk’s observation. Mostly Ehrman got the better of this exchange, but he could have tuned down the hyperbole. Ehrman’s statement “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period” is vague to the point of uselessness–does he just mean that the evidence for Jesus is better than the evidence for the average peasant farmer who’s been completely lost to history? So what? I imagine Ehrman knows of specific individuals who we’re pretty sure existed in spite of sketchy evidence, and he should have talked about them first rather than bringing up Caesar and making blanket statements.

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lukeprog March 25, 2010 at 9:18 am

Price’s seminary on which he teaches is unaccredited. That may be what Ehrman meant.

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Lee A.P. March 25, 2010 at 9:26 am

This is obvious above when, for example, Ehrman has to explain to Reggie that “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period.”

Yeah, I am with Ehrman until he says we have more evidence for Jesus than Ceasar. Huh? This is an astonishingly embarrassing claim to make. Its stupid. It is not true in the least. I am a fan of Ehrman and think Reggie needed to bow to the scholar but that comment totally flustered me.

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RA March 25, 2010 at 9:35 am

Ehrman clearly knew who Price was but pretended not to because at that point it had become a pissing match and he was set on beating Reggie over the head with his ignoramous idea that Paul’s writings were not worthy of being considered historical.

For whatever reason, Reggie felt the need to prove the point and Ehrman wasn’t interested in debating with a lightweight that didn’t have his stuff together and was being an arrogant prick with his dismissive “Right” after everything he said. Can’t say I blame him.

In any case, Ehrman always argues for the historical perspective which is that Jesus existed. He doesn’t say the Resurrection didn’t happen in his debates, he just says it isn’t historical. It’s a theological view.

Here, he doesn’t say that Jesus definitely did exist (“That assumes that he actually existed”), he says historians believe that he did and that includes himself based on Paul’s writings.

Reggie doesn’t want to believe that Jesus existed and only wants to hear the point of view that he agrees with which is a little too familiar.

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Evan March 25, 2010 at 9:43 am

Yes, John the Baptist certainly intrudes on the story in an embarrassing way, what with the heavens opening and declaring Jesus to be the Son of God. He intrudes so much that he is a key apologetic point for Justin Martyr in the 2nd century and he uses the baptism by John (the embarrassment being so great) as an apologetic text to show Jews that Elijah the Prophet returned and heralded Jesus. This was much after the supposed gospel of John was written with the embarrassment being felt so keenly, which of course, is evidence that it really happened, because it fulfilled prophecy, just like Jesus coming into Jerusalem astride two different animals must be both embarrassing, fulfilled prophecy — and therefore true history.

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raichel March 25, 2010 at 10:23 am

This interview and many of the ignorant comments following it are why I never placed much if any value in what the atheist I’ve come across or the ones my atheist friends subscribe to have to say about anything.

They’re just as bad as an ignorant close-minded Christian that just wants to believe what they want to believe despite the facts. And they seem to have no interest in informing themselves or being reflective and critical of their own thinking or motives.

My boyfriend falls into this category and as an educated and informed Christian it’s impossible to have a respectful discussion about our opposing beliefs. As in he has no respect for me and won’t even acknowledge that I know what I’m talking about concerning several subjects in which he has no education. He even subscribed to zeitgeist until I managed to crush that bubble. How is he or any atheist going to get through to me when they are so ill informed and dismissive of what is actually the position of true scholars in the area??

So you atheist out there get your facts straight! And don’t assume all Christians are ignorant sheep.

I LOVE this site and finally FINALLY I feel like there are some knowledgeable atheist out there who understand my background and know their sh*t!

If I do change my beliefs it will be because of evidence, common sense, and atheist or agnostics that are informed and respectful of Christians and recognise that many of us know a thing or two as well.

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Haecceitas March 25, 2010 at 10:44 am

“Yeah, I am with Ehrman until he says we have more evidence for Jesus than Ceasar.”

Ehrman said no such thing. He just asked what “hard core evidence” we have for Caesar’s existence. I think this was a point about historical methodology and how one can gainsay almost anything if one applies hypersceptical principles.

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RA March 25, 2010 at 11:01 am

That’s right. What he said was: “What hard core evidence is there than Julius Caesar existed? It’s a historical point. How do you establish the historical existence of anyone from the past?”

Not that there is more evidence that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar. Just that you cannot ignore historical evidence.

I think much of these comments have proven Luke’s point pretty clearly.

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johemeth March 25, 2010 at 11:02 am

Luke, when is Bart going to appear on CPBD?

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thomas March 25, 2010 at 11:09 am

2:30 in the second video, sorry man, everyone even minorly acquainted with the debate knows who bart ehrman is. even the the theists. i love particularly how ehrman gets to the end of skepticism. there must be a point where the evidence leads to some sort of certainty, or limits some possibilities.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:23 am

My boyfriend falls into this category and as an educated and informed Christian it’s impossible to have a respectful discussion about our opposing beliefs. As in he has no respect for me and won’t even acknowledge that I know what I’m talking about concerning several subjects in which he has no education…

Well boo on you for sticking with such a loser.

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Bram van Dijk March 25, 2010 at 11:39 am

John’s Gospel omits any mention of a baptism of Jesus, while the synoptics mention a baptism.

That proves it really happened, by the criterion of embarrassment.

So you do know what you are talking about, you just intentionally misrepresent this view…

Well have fun with that…

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 11:56 am

Not that there is more evidence that Jesus existed than Julius Caesar. Just that you cannot ignore historical evidence.

I think much of these comments have proven Luke’s point pretty clearly.

The point Reggie was trying to make, and which Ehrman was being deliberately thick about, is that the only “evidence” for a historical Jesus is the text of the New Testament. There is absolutely nothing outside that. Sure, there are plenty of pieces of the true cross scattered around the world, enough to build a few houses out of, not just a cross, but i think it’s safe to say that those do not meet the standards of evidence. Note the point where Reggie specifically mentions the lack of “archaeological evidence.”

Forget Caesar, let’s compare the evidence for Jesus to the evidence for Paul Bunyan. When someone says PB was born in Bangor Maine, that is an aside; they are not making a point. So we know it must be true.

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Hermes March 25, 2010 at 12:25 pm

Rhys, that sounds about right.

So maybe Ehrman was not strictly correct about Price not having a teaching position. Still, I may have been over-estimating Price’s standing in the field.

Same here.

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Alex March 25, 2010 at 12:33 pm

Raichel : “This interview and many of the ignorant comments following it”

Ouch. What comments? I find the comments here rather good, considering we’re talking about an oral clash where weak arguments fly fast and high. It was this context which produced “there’s more evidence for Jesus than for Cesare”, even if those words surely weren’t uttered. By going through the discussion we come to a form of consensus on what the context was and what was being argued.

Is this ignorant?

As always, you can pick one part of a comment that doesn’t gel with you, and claim it to be ignorant. But unfortunately this works in reverse, against you. Will you claim not to be ignorant of all the atheist, agnostic or secular arguments? Because to play the “you are ignorant” card in a debate where there’s two sides, if you don’t understand the other side you are basically just a reference manual for one point of view. That is not a debate, nor does it drive the context further, it doesn’t gain any momentum of consensus.

Is this ignorant?

I don’t think the comments here are ignorant in any way. The most abrasive and fluffy you’ll probably find at the top, and then we work through them to the bottom, like this comment, where I think we all have at least a good idea about the issues, and I think we even can reach a consensus about key aspects of the debate.

That’s not ignorance.

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Haecceitas March 25, 2010 at 12:48 pm

“The point Reggie was trying to make, and which Ehrman was being deliberately thick about, is that the only “evidence” for a historical Jesus is the text of the New Testament. There is absolutely nothing outside that.”

This is uncontroversially false. You may say that the evidence outside of the NT is not great, but surely any reasonably consistent application of historical methodology must see it as better than “absolutely nothing”. And obviously, the NT itself is not one source, but a collection of distinct sources.

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Haecceitas March 25, 2010 at 12:50 pm

“Ouch. What comments?”

She might be referring to the Youtube comments rather than the ones made here. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 1:26 pm

BRIANG
This doesn’t make any sense. Mark is generally thought to be the first Gospel written, so how could there have been evidence of “spin” before he wrote?

CARR

Briang claims the story was embarrassing and points out that there is no evidence of any spin on it before Mark wrote, so how could there be spin?

This makes no sense.

Is Briang really claiming the story was so embarrassing that he now scoffs at the idea that Christians would have tried to spin it away decades before Mark wrote?

BRIANG
Why would a story have been preserved even though it’s embarrassing?

CARR
This from the guy who knows that John’s Gospel does *not* preserve the story?

He is demanding explanations of why it was preserved when the evidence is that it was not?

And now he is asking why the story was preserved for 30 years before Mark wrote even though it was embarrassing?

So why did Mark write it when Christians had had 30 years to spin it away?

Does anybody really think embarrassing stories were kept for 30 years and then Mark wrote them down?

Of course not.

The evidence is that Mark wrote something and immediately Christians were embarrassed and tried to spin it away.

So Mark must have been the first person to talk about this alleged baptism, or else the 30 years of spin would have silenced him, just like Briang claims the 30 years of spin silenced John.

BRIANG
It’s not just that John leaves something out, as if he may have forgot. John tells the story of John preaching and baptizing in the desert. He talks about how the spirit descended on Jesus. (In Mark this happens when Jesus was baptized.) But, conveniently, John says nothing about Jesus actually being baptized. Do you really think this is an accidental omission?

CARR
So Briang can see the story not there! It is not there in really big letters. He claims the silence in John is deafening.

And if sceptics wonder why Paul never mentions any miracles, they are told they are being stupid for arguing from silence…..

But if a serious historian knows John does not write about something, then it simply must have happened, because the silence is deafening.

What sort of standards are these?

And ‘serious historians’ know perfectly well that John is obviously reacting to the story in Mark , selecting the elements he likes.

The baptism story is totally dependent upon Mark’s Novel.

And yet these ‘serious historians’ claim John is an ‘independent source’ whenever it suits them to say ‘multiply attested’

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lukeprog March 25, 2010 at 1:45 pm

RA,

Yeah. Ehrman never said we have more evidence for Jesus than for Julius Caesar.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm

‘Yeah. Ehrman never said we have more evidence for Jesus than for Julius Caesar’

What Ehrman meant was that we have more evidence for Jesus than for judas, Thomas, mary Magdalene, joanna, Salome, joseph of Arimathea, Bartimaeus, Jairus, Nicodemus, lazarus, the other Mary, Simon of cyrene, Barabbas etc.

But we have lots of evidence for Jesus.

He is in all those books that mention Judas, Thomas, mary Magdalene, joanna, Salome, joseph of Arimathea, Bartimaeus, Jairus, Nicodemus, lazarus, the other Mary, Simon of cyrene, Barabbas etc.

But ‘serious historians’ claim Judas , Lazarus, Thomas etc existed, because they are in the Bible…..

They even claim John the Baptist had something to do with Jesus, because that is in some of the Gospels, but not in all of them.

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Reginald Selkirk March 25, 2010 at 3:10 pm

but surely any reasonably consistent application of historical methodology must see it as better than “absolutely nothing”. And obviously, the NT itself is not one source, but a collection of distinct sources.

A medieval forgery of a burial shroud is not “better than absolutely nothing.” Ditto all the pieces of the true cross.

While the NT is a collection of sources, calling them “distinct” is a less-than-honest way of eliding the fact that they are not independent.

The books in the NT also contradict each other, a circumstance which would be far more obvious if the NT hadn’t been cherry-picked by a committee from the range of available sources on the topic (i.e. gnostic gospels).

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Jeff H March 25, 2010 at 3:31 pm

Wow, can I just say that this interview was terrible all-round? First of all, you’ve got Reggie who clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about and keeps with the “Yeah, but…” approach to belabour a non-issue. But then you’ve got Ehrman who could clearly say, “Okay, here’s some of the evidence for Jesus,” but instead, he relies on an argument from authority and says, “Well no one in my field believes Jesus didn’t exist.” True, that has some weight since they are experts, but if he’s going to say that Reggie needs to “look at the historical evidence”, he could at least have started the discussion going down that road instead of talking about whether Ehrman knows so-and-so, as if that really matters.

Terrible stuff. Although I like Reggie’s response when Ehrman first starts talking about Paul. “Well what if he lied?” As if he expected Ehrman to say, “OH MY GOD I never thought about that! Thirty years of research and I never considered that he might not be telling the absolute truth! My God, it’s brilliant!” Lol…

And Steven Carr,

When you’ve been defeated thoroughly on a point so that you simply start repeating yourself, the respectable thing to do is to bow out politely. The obvious reason why Mark would mention something that Matthew/Luke each deal with and then John takes it out completely is because the fledgling movement of Christianity a) was not a homogenous, unified group, and b) went through a lot of changes in its early days. Remember that it started out as a Jewish sect. As Christianity began to distance itself more and more from Judaism, I think it’s fairly straight-forward to think that perhaps they’d want to downplay the idea that their leader was subservient to some other competing leader.

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Vinny March 25, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Ehrman got the best of the argument because Reggie did not actually know what the arguments were or what the current status of mythicism is in the academic community. If he had, he would not have assumed that Ehrman would be sympathetic to mythicism just because he is a skeptic. I was very disappointed by this interview because it would have been very interesting to get Ehrman to comment on some of the arguments for mythicism if Reggie had only known what the were.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 10:32 pm

So Jeff H thinks I was beaten?

This is despite the fact that he agrees that ‘serious hsitorians’ think the baptism happened because John does not mention it….

And Jeff H agrees that there is no reason to believe Mark found this alleged baptism in any way embarrassing, which blows the ‘argument from embarrasssment’ out of the water.

How caome Jeff H can see that , but not a ‘serious historian’ like John paul meier?

clearly Mark made up the story, because the embarrassment started from the date of his writing, not the date of this alleged baptism.

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Steven Carr March 25, 2010 at 10:42 pm

I wonder if Ehrman agrees that the evidence for Judas, Thomas, mary Magdalene, Nicodemus, Lazarus, bartimaeus etc is worthless and nothing like as good as the evidence for Jesus?

but who knows, perhaps ‘serious historians’ will find new gospels where these people are not mentioned, and conclude that they must have existed, because Christians were too embarrassed to mention them….

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Haecceitas March 25, 2010 at 11:50 pm

“A medieval forgery of a burial shroud is not “better than absolutely nothing.” Ditto all the pieces of the true cross.”

So you really think that those are the only extra-biblical evidence that we have?

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Steven carr March 25, 2010 at 11:59 pm

Do we have evidence for Frank Fiegel , the person popeye was based on?

Does this mean popeye existed, as we have evidence outside the cartoons for the person Popeye was based on?

We have biblical evidence about Jesus.

We have Paul saying that Christians got access to the flesh and blood of Jesus in a ritual cultic meal.

Which is like saying Satan is historical because Satanists conjure him up….

And in Romans 10, Paul explains that Jews could not be expected to believe, because they had never heard of Jesus apart from Christians sent to preach about him.

How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

But not all the Israelites accepted the good news.

‘not all the Israelites accepted the good news’

A remarkably level headed and unemotional way of saying that some Israelites conspired to have jesus crucified…..

And in romans 13, paul praises the authorities because they punish wrong-doers and hold no terror for the innocent.

yes, the authorities mocked, beat, flogged, humiliated, stripped, and crucified the Son of God and paul says ‘For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.’

And ‘serious historians’ read this passage by Paul and claim Paul knew the authorities crucified Jesus.

How do these ‘serious historians’ do that? How do they not even *start* to question how paul wrote that about the people who flogged,beat, stripped and killed the Son of God?

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Bram van Dijk March 26, 2010 at 12:03 am

sigh…
Agains my better judgement one last try:
1. 2nd century: In the Gospel of the Hebrews Jesus’ baptism is explicitly denied;
2. 90: John doesn’t mentionthe baptism;
3. 80: Matthew and Luke mention a downplayed baptism;
4. 70: Mark mentions a baptism.

So what do we get when we turn back the clock another 30 years?

5. 30: Jesus was probably a disciple of John the Baptist, only afther John was taken captive did Jesus start his own ministry.

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Steven carr March 26, 2010 at 12:06 am

4. 70: Mark mentions a baptism.

SO where is the evidence that there was a baptism?

We have evidence that as soon as Mark wrote about a baptism, Christians tried to down play it.

So why did this process not take place for 30 years after the baptism?

Were Christians just too dumb to realise for 3 decades that they should downplay this baptism?

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Steven carr March 26, 2010 at 12:09 am

in the real world, if this alleged baptism had to be downplayed, that would have happened before jesus was cold in the grave.

Not decades later.

Because Christians were embarrassed by Mark’s writing about a baptism, mark must have been the first person to mention it.

this is so obvious.

But I guess people watch fox news and think it will take Fox decades to work out what spin to put on stories…..

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Steven Carr March 26, 2010 at 12:22 am

i think i see how ‘serious historians’ use the argument from embarrassment.

Glenn Beck says something .

Other conservatives are embarrassed by Beck’s statement, and downplay it and then deny it altogether.

This proves Glenn was telling the truth, and not making it up.

Can i get a job as a biblical historian?

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lukeprog March 26, 2010 at 1:06 am

Love it, Steven. :)

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Steven Carr March 26, 2010 at 2:11 am

As for the actual podcast Luke linked to, Reggie did a terrible job….

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Reginald Selkirk March 26, 2010 at 6:04 am

Ehrman got the best of the argument because Reggie did not actually know what the arguments were or what the current status of mythicism is in the academic community.

Remember that this was supposed to be an interview, not an argument. Ehrman was a poor guest, but Reggie has to bear most of the blame as a poor host for letting things get so out of hand.

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raichel March 26, 2010 at 11:39 am

Sorry I haven’t been following since I made my comment. I meant ignorant comments on this particular page, I wouldn’t put myself through the youtube comments!
I respect the fact that people are calmly discussing their differences and trying to come to a better understanding (that is one of the main reasons I like this site so much) but for anyone to argue that we have little evidence that Jesus lived and indeed was crucified is ignorant of the facts. We really need to move past this as it is well established that there is more than enough evidence as far as historians are concerned that Jesus lived and died. Who he indeed was and what the contradictions in the scriptures could potentially mean are much less established. And a discussion worth pursuing.
Erhman did not put a foot wrong in the interview. The Infidel Guy wasted an opportunity for a great interview with a very well educated scholar.

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lukeprog March 26, 2010 at 11:51 am

raichel,

Remember, it might be true to say that we have little evidence for Jesus in general. But compared to the evidence we have for most people of the ancient world, our evidence for Jesus is pretty good.

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Steven Carr March 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm

‘We really need to move past this as it is well established that there is more than enough evidence as far as historians are concerned that Jesus lived and died’

So why would Paul write that Jews could not be expected to believe in Jesus as they had never heard of him apart from Christians preaching about him?

Why did Paul think the big advantage the Jews had had was having the scriptures?

Rather than having Jesus live among them?

romans 16
Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him

Jesus had been revealed through scripture.

What was the point of Jesus?

Romans 15
For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” 4For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

paul learned about Jesus through reading scripture.

It was scripture that gave Christians endurance and encouragement , not the words of Jesus.

Paul is so vocal about the fact that his Christianity came from scripture that people are forced to say that Paul is silent, so they can avoid listening to him.

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Reginald Selkirk March 26, 2010 at 1:35 pm

raichel,Remember, it might be true to say that we have little evidence for Jesus in general. But compared to the evidence we have for most people of the ancient world, our evidence for Jesus is pretty good.  

Which brings us right back to the comparison to Julius Caesar.

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Reginald Selkirk March 26, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Erhman did not put a foot wrong in the interview.

Srsly? So pretending he had never heard of Robert Price, and then acknowledging that he had actually corresponded with him was a perfectly ordinary occurence.

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Reginald Selkirk March 26, 2010 at 1:42 pm

We really need to move past this as it is well established that there is more than enough evidence as far as historians are concerned that Jesus lived and died.

Please do divulge this evidence.

So you really think that those are the only extra-biblical evidence that we have?

Stop with the guessing games! If there is serious evidence for Jesus H. Christ outside the New Testament and the Gnostic manuscripts, please present it.

BTW, the Gnostic gospels do not help your cause, as some of them clearly cross over into the territory of myth.

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lukeprog March 26, 2010 at 2:29 pm

Reginald,

Re: Bob Price, yeah that was weird! :)

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raichel March 27, 2010 at 4:28 am

Bob Price does not assert that Jesus never existed. Perhaps this is why Erhman was at first confused about who Infidel was referring to. Then later after he mentioned some of his books Erhman realised who he was talking about.
I don’t see why Erhman would have any reason to be very aware of Bob Price. I’ve often initially thought I didn’t know who someone was talking about until something they later said made me realise that I did indeed know that person.
For a list of the evidence for Jesus all you gotta do is check out Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus#Greco-Roman_sources
Didn’t Erhman make a point that if you aren’t a physisist you wouldn’t just dismiss something the most reputable and knowledgeable people in that field assert to be true? These are professionals they know what they are on about and as they are a mix of believers, atheist and agnostics they don’t have some secret agenda or conspiracy. It’s not the Catholic Church we are talking about. These are reputable scholars. Unless you are equally as informed you really don’t have a leg to stand on in disputing them. So what I’m saying is your energy should be directed in areas you do have a good knowledge of. If you just make sweeping ill informed statements it just gives Christians cause to dismiss anything you have to say. Luke has often made that point. Clean up your game, don’t be messy.

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Bram van Dijk March 27, 2010 at 4:50 am

Srsly? So pretending he had never heard of Robert Price, and then acknowledging that he had actually corresponded with him was a perfectly ordinary occurence.

It seemed to me, though I might be wrong, that he just didn’t recognize the name at first. After been given some book titles he was like “oh yeah, that guy”.

So, I’m not sure whether you can really say that he was pretending he had never heard of Robert Price.

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Steven Carr March 27, 2010 at 4:56 am

So Raichel never bothers to wonder why Paul thinks Jews had not heard of Jesus.

Just like the scholars she praises – the ones who think something happened if it is not in One Gospel…..

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 5:22 am

A crucial word is missing in this conversation; contemporaneous.

Do I know that Julius Caesar existed? Yes, evidence from the time he existed — contemporary accounts and artifacts — are available and as such there is no question about many details of his life or even what he looked like.

Do I know that Jesus Christ as described in the Christian Bible existed? Not at the level that I can discuss Caesar as there are no contemporary accounts of that individual.

Do I think that Jesus Christ (in some form) existed? Yes. Yet, nobody can point to a single piece of contemporaneous evidence for that.

A thought experiment…

Let’s say that we all have common and contemporary experience with real miracles and magic. What were amazing events outside the thought experiment actually do happen, even if they are fairly uncommon.

Now, if large miracle events happen then it is expected that many different people would experience it, and that some of those events would be mentioned somewhere in contemporary accounts. When they are not, as is the case of the dead rising from their graves and being seen by many people, we can reasonably discount that claim and consider it mythic (having potential cultural significance) as opposed to literal.

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Briang March 27, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Hermes,

What about the tradition Paul quotes in 1Corinthians 15, dated about 3 years after the crucification?

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raichel March 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

So Raichel never bothers to wonder why Paul thinks Jews had not heard of Jesus.Just like the scholars she praises – the ones who think something happened if it is not in One Gospel…..  

You may address me directly. I am ‘in the room’ afterall.
I wonder about a lot of things but I also know when I’m in over my head and to leave it to the experts. There are a lot of things in Economics and Biology that don’t make sense to me but if the vast majority of experts in those areas are in agreement on the matter, I’ll take their word for it. It doesn’t mean I don’t think for myself and question things.
There are many topics concerning Christianity that are less established, more debatable and worth your time and energy. Come to think of it there are many things that are much more worthy of my time and energy than responding to you.

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Steven Carr March 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm

SO Rachel scoffs at the idea that we should waste time reading what Paul wrote and asking questions about it…

Those sad atheists, actually reading Paul and wondering at what they read…. Christians simply don’t question, preferring just to believe rather than waste their energy wondering why Paul thinks Jews had never heard of Jesus apart from Christians preaching about him.

BRIANG
‘What about the tradition Paul quotes in 1Corinthians 15, dated about 3 years after the crucification? ‘

CARR
In other words, somebody realised these were not the words of Paul, and so claimed Paul was ‘quoting’ and then made up a date for something that has no date apart from a claim that people were still alive (Amazingly they didn’t all die in just the first 5 years)

I wonder what occasion brought 500+ Christians together in the short space of time before Jesus flew off into the sky, never to be seen again…..

That is quite a big gathering of the ‘brethren’. Where did 500+ Christians congegrate together so they could see the resurrected Jesus?

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Reginald Selkirk March 27, 2010 at 2:04 pm

For a list of the evidence for Jesus all you gotta do is check out Wikipedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historicity_of_Jesus#Greco-Roman_sources

Sure, let’s check that out:

There are passages relevant to Christianity in the works of four major non-Christian writers of the late 1st and early 2nd centuries – Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, and Pliny the Younger. However, these are generally references to early Christians rather than a historical Jesus.

Unfortunately raichel, the link you provided directly contradicts your claims for it. Not one of those writers overlapped in time with the alleged historical Jesus H. Christ. The earliest, Josephus, was born in 37 BCE. Their writings do verify the historicity of early Christianity; but that is not in dispute, and it does not address the issue of a historical Jesus H. Christ.

Thanks for playing though. Apology accepted in advance.

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Reginald Selkirk March 27, 2010 at 2:59 pm

If you just make sweeping ill informed statements it just gives Christians cause to dismiss anything you have to say.

Likewise, I’m sure.

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Hermes March 27, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Hermes,What about the tradition Paul quotes in 1Corinthians 15, dated about 3 years after the crucification?  

Briang, a few comments, none of them necessarily thwarting the possibility that you’ve got something.

I’ll keep this as generic as possible so that you can understand what I’m thinking and can plug in different possibilities for yourself if any new ones come to mind.

Reference: 1 Corinthians 15 (NIV)

[ partially from memory ] Paul started his ministry ~20 years after Jesus was executed. That section talks about how Paul had preached on the subject before to the group he’s addressing, pushing the date that he wrote it down even further.

With that in mind, a few questions;

1. What did you identify as the specific “tradition Paul quotes”? (Chapter and verse, and preferred version if not the NIV.)

2. Do you know if the “tradition” is documented by other sources prior to 1 Corinthians 15?

3. Do you know when this specific section (or any section Paul was responsible for) was written down? [ from memory, I thought that his first letters (and writing) was also around the time he started his ministry; ~20 years after Jesus ]

4. Do you consider ‘the tradition’ to be a mundane fact or a supernatural and/or notable exception to how reality normally works?

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Briang March 27, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Hermes,

First, I want to thank you for engaging in reasonable dialog. Some of the sarcasm from other commentators was starting to get under my skin. To answer your questions:
1. To keep thinks simple, I give the portion of tradition that is accepted by almost all scholars.
1Cor. 3:3-5: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5and that he appeared

I say almost all scholars, because because the only one I’ve found that disputes this is Robert Price. (You can find his paper online, you may also want to check out his debate with William Lane Craig on the resurrection. They discuss this issue specifically) Price does grant that this is the concensus of scholars, but he disagrees with the concensus.

2. Paul is our earliest source.

3. 1Cor. was written in the mid-50. I believe it’s a candidate for Paul’s first letter, but I’m not sure how widely accepted this is.

4. I’d have to say the tradition contains both ordinary events and supernatural ones. Death and burial would be ordinary events. “for our sins”, resurrection, and appearance would be supernatural.

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Steven Carr March 27, 2010 at 10:10 pm

BRIANG
1. To keep thinks simple, I give the portion of tradition that is accepted by almost all scholars.

CARR
So Briang doesn’t even think about giving evidence that this ‘creed’ is not Paul’s writing, and that somebody else other than paul made it up.

The ‘evidence’ is that scholars accept it.

Which , by definition, is not evidence for a position.

perhaps briang could start by telling us why 500+ christians gathered together to look at the resurrected Jesus.

But even what Briang quotes says that the death of Jesus happened ‘according to the scriptures’, which can easily mean that it was discovered by reading the scriptures.

Just like christians today find out about the death of Jesus by reading the ‘gospel according to mark’ (kata Markon), it seems perfectly possible Paul found out about the death of Jesus because it was reported ‘according to the scriptures’ (kata graphas)

Romans 16
Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him

this had all been revealed through scripture. It was all ‘according to the scriptures’

Romans 3
But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.

Paul never dreams of saying that JESUS testified to anything….

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Mazen Abdallah April 9, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Jesus died, Saul of Tarsus imagined everything ( a fact Saul himself did not deny) and wrote countless church documents. Most of Jesus’ life was pieced together from that initial account, and of course the fragmented gospels filled in the gaps. Little info on his name, the time frame (33 AD is as good a guess as any). We don’t have that much evidence for Jesus. I’ve heard it and heard it again. From Christians, from atheists, from the pope himself. It’s not convincing that Jesus even existed. If Christians believe that there’s a cogent case, they’ve most certainly done a superb job concealing it.

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Jim November 4, 2010 at 11:13 am

Ehrman has gone down in my estimation. He says thousands of people agree with him. Evidence?

There is no historical evidence for Jesus. Ignoring the obvious lie about the virgin birth we have someone who suddenly came from nowhere, did all that was asked of him to fulfill some old prophecies and ignoring the fictional ascension, vanished again.

According to Ehrman there were really Greek, Roman, Norse, etc gods since how else could their religions possibly start unless they really existed?

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Earl Doherty May 6, 2011 at 2:50 pm

It weirds people out when I say that Jesus existed. Anyone with any ancient near-east history training will agree with me. Only fringe nuts think he didn’t.

THE Bill Maher???

You’re one of my longstanding heroes, but tut-tut, Bill. Send me an address (by e-mail) and I’ll send you a complimentary copy of my latest book on the non-existence of Jesus, and then you can judge whether mythicism is only for the lunatic fringe.

Earl Doherty (of “Jesus Puzzle” fame/infamy)
earldoherty@gmail.com

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Luke Muehlhauser May 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm

Earl Doherty,

No. Not ‘the’ Bill Maher. :)

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jonesy May 13, 2011 at 11:41 pm

LOL to the last two posts. ^

Earl, I hope you were joking.

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Leslie May 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Well, I am a Christian, and I must admit that atheists who betray the fact that they haven’t got the fogiest idea how historians go about their business, but nevertheless make confident assertions to the effect that there is no evidence for the historicity of Jesus, tend to piss me off big time.

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Erl Doherty May 23, 2011 at 4:39 pm

Well, I am a Christian, and I must admit that atheists who betray the fact that they haven’t got the fogiest idea how historians go about their business, but nevertheless make confident assertions to the effect that there is no evidence for the historicity of Jesus, tend to piss me off big time.

And you know HOW, Leslie, that mythicists haven’t got the foggiest idea how historians go about their business? You would have to know very thoroughly how mythicists go about their business. Do you?. And how they fail to live up to historians’ standards. Do you? Then you would have to be familiar with those historians’ standards. Are you? Then you would have to know quite thoroughly how well the methods of New Testament scholars (who are anything but synonymous with historians) shape up in comparison with historians’ standards. Do you?

Or are you just taking the word of someone like Bart Ehrman (who is not an historian, but a New Testament scholar who is very prejudiced against the very idea of Jesus mythicism, and who in everything he has said about the subject, betrays that prejudice and pretty much an ignorance of what and how mythicists argue their case.)

For Ehrman to say, as quoted in the OP above, “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period” is sheer nonsense, and shows only a blind bias against the very idea that the evidence could actually show otherwise. But people like you (and not just Christians) get taken in all the time by unfounded claims like this, or the alleged “standards” on which they are based.

Earl Doherty

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Katoikei October 2, 2011 at 10:40 am

Well, I am a Christian, and I must admit that atheists who betray the fact that they haven’t got the fogiest idea how historians go about their business, but nevertheless make confident assertions to the effect that there is no evidence for the historicity of Jesus, tend to piss me off big time.

Leslie.

And you know HOW, Leslie, that mythicists haven’t got the foggiest idea how historians go about their business? You would have to know very thoroughly how mythicists go about their business. Do you?. And how they fail to live up to historians’ standards. Do you? Then you would have to be familiar with those historians’ standards. Are you? Then you would have to know quite thoroughly how well the methods of New Testament scholars (who are anything but synonymous with historians) shape up in comparison with historians’ standards. Do you?

Or are you just taking the word of someone like Bart Ehrman (who is not an historian, but a New Testament scholar who is very prejudiced against the very idea of Jesus mythicism, and who in everything he has said about the subject, betrays that prejudice and pretty much an ignorance of what and how mythicists argue their case.)

For Ehrman to say, as quoted in the OP above, “we have more evidence for Jesus than we have for almost anybody from his time period” is sheer nonsense, and shows only a blind bias against the very idea that the evidence could actually show otherwise. But people like you (and not just Christians) get taken in all the time by unfounded claims like this, or the alleged “standards” on which they are based.

Earl Doherty

Early,
You are simply dodging the bullets about Bart’s point regarding popular writers who are just looking to make a buck off of Jesus by supporting a contrary idea when the vast majority of ‘serious’ scholars don’t even bother with such theories.
Have a look at Wikipedia and see how many bottom of the rung scholars are debunking your theories.
I think GakuseiDon and Ben Witherington III did an excellent job dismissing your theories and you know it. ;)

1. ”Jesus: Neither God Nor Man’ by Earl Doherty’ reviewed by Gakusei Don: http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseidon/JNGNM_Review1.html
2. Professor Ben Witherington III : An Excersize in Mythmaking : http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2008/03/earl-dohertys-jesus-puzzle-exercise-in.html

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