Bizarre flap between Bart Ehrman and Robert M. Price

So in the comments yesterday, Steven Carr repeated a claim from Robert M. Price in this episode of Price’s podcast that Ehrman doesn’t read the books he criticizes, he has graduate students do it for him. Then Zak pointed me towards Ehrman’s responses here and here. Here’s Ehrman’s first response:

Friends and Fans,
I really don’t mind the rough and tumble of serious academic engagement, as some of you may have noticed. But I take serious offense when people are propagating false information about me or my work. In that connection I have had several persons tell me the following:

In his April 16th “The Bible Geek” podcast, Robert M Price says it has come out that Bart Ehrman never even read through any of the mythicist books he talks about in “Did Jesus Exist.” Ehrman just had his graduate students read them and report to Bart about what sections he should look at.

I have not listened to the podcast, but if Robert did say this, then it’s a flat-out lie. And that probably says something about the attacks being made against my book, and the people making them. I have no problems with Robert (at least I didn’t before now) and think that he is a rare scholar among the mythicists (since he is, in fact, a scholar). And I treat him with respect in my book. I expect the same treatment — and a healthy dose of honesty and integrity — in return.

If Robert did *not* in fact say this, then that would be worth knowing too.

And the second one:

Friends and Fans,

I decided to listen to Robert Price’s podcast (as if I have time for this kind of nonsense), and in fact it is even *worse* than I indicate in the post I made 30 minutes ago. He flat out accuses me of not reading the mythicists’ books and attacking what my students told me about them. He excoriates me for several minutes for this kind of irresponsible activity.
But in fact, it is a flat out lie. I do not do research like that and certainly did not in this case. I read all the mythicist books I talk about (which made, I’ve got to tell you, for a rather unpleasant summer…) including, in detail, both of his major works.
Again, I believe in engaging in academic back-and-forth with honesty and integrity. If Robert Price does not share the ideals, then I am sorry to hear it. If he wants to talk substance, I’m happy to do it at any time. If he wants to propagate lies and falsehoods, he will have to do it without me.

Now here’s Price’s response, in the Facebook comment thread:

If anyone is lying in the matter, it is one of your own grad assistants who told this to Steven Styles. Should I regard it as true based on the criterion of embarrassment? Isn’t it too early for oral tradition to have gone so far astray? In any case, true or not, it is quite plausible given the astonishing level of your critique of our books. In the case of Earl Doherty, you are grossly misrepresenting the poor fellow and his arguments. I hope he is not in a litigious mood. I can hardly believe you fail to grasp what I am saying re the criterion of dissimilarity and James the Just. Nor do I think the fault is lack of clarity on my part. I can only hope your readers will take the trouble to look up my books to see if I am truly the fool that you make me out to be. You see, on the very same podcast you so condescendingly deigned to listen to, I also recommended your fine book Forged, as I often have praised The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (and will continue to do so). In view of the excellence of these works, I cannot understand the hack job contained in Did Jesus Exist. A second-hand acquaintance with our books would explain that.

Maybe Price didn’t mean to lie, but this still strikes me as horribly irresponsible of him, making a serious accusation like that based on a second-hand report. This is something Price should have apologized for, rather than trying to defend his propagation of a falsehood. Falsehoods like this can do real harm, especially since it seems in this case that it got repeated widely before Ehrman could respond.

On a related note, there’s this blog post by Price where he claims that in Ehrman’s book “I am there painted as a blatant thought-criminal.” Personally, I didn’t get that impression at all reading Ehrman. This all really does not reflect well on Price, though I was never a big fan of his in the first place.

 

 

  • jamessweet

    I continued to be confused at the level of acrimony amongst even the non-Christian participants in the debates over the historicity of Jesus. Obviously I can understand why mythicists would be really upsetting to those who have a theological attachment to the existence of a historical Jesus, but for the Ehrmans and the Prices out there, I just don’t understand why it is so heated — especially when, it seems to me, any conclusion either way is likely to be probabilistic and provisional. Maybe that is exactly why it is so heated? Because both sides know, deep down, that they will never be able to deliver a knock-out punch, and so instead they resort to fiery rhetoric?

    • mnb0

      Neither do I understand. Given the historical data I think that Jesus was most likely historical, but if additional information proves me wrong I won’t lose a single second of sleep for it. What’s more, I think the whole question quite irrelevant for modern Christendom. Yeah, fundies will be upset, but even the word dinosaur seems to upset them these days.
      It further never fails to amaze me how many bad arguments are brought up – from both sides. That includes conspiracy theories (scholars are afraid to speak out for a mythical Jesus – in secular Europe?! – undoubtedly there is a religious counterpart as well)
      I just ask the question being researched with historical methods that have proven their value – you know, that nice thing called science.

    • Aaron

      I guess it doesn’t surprise me. You see this sort of thing in all fields- it doesn’t matter whether anyone is defending a existential claim. I can think of examples in biology, astronomy, and physics off the top of my head. They can get pretty ugly. A matter of professional and intellectual pride, combined with miscommunication or a complete lack of it.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    Uh, so far as I can follow this, it seems Price’s major error was in accepting Styles’s version – but who Styles is and what he said, from what source, remains mysterious.

    Damn, I hate it when two writers of nonfiction I admire get into a pissing contest.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    If Robert did *not* in fact say this, then that would be worth knowing too.

    So, in answer to a reported accusation that Ehrman doesn’t read the sources he criticizes, Ehrman clearly made his first response without actually listening to Price’s podcast. He walked right into Price’s punch on that one.

  • http://anexerciseinfutility.blogspot.com tommykey

    This all really does not reflect well on Price, though I was never a big fan of his in the first place.

    Not familiar with his writings, but I avoided listening to his podcasts when he would host Point of Inquiry. To paraphrase an old saying, he had a voice made for mime.

  • Leo

    I can’t say I have read either of their works, but from what I have heard about these men, I can’t help but wonder if Price did some of this on purpose to make a point about mythicism. I say this because Price seems to be taking a cheap shot at Ehrman when he says, “Isn’t it too early for oral tradition to have gone so far astray?”

  • http://www.facebook.com/miguel.picanco miguelpicanco

    It’s not a lie if he’s simply mistaken. He had discerned Ehrman’s methodology after reading/hearing his critiques of the works he supposedly read and found them lacking to the point of requiring a better explanation. To assume he’s relying on second-hand accounts of his graduate assistants is actually an attempt to give him a pass on the subject intellectually.

    I’ve wondered the same myself… though Price would have helped his case by downplaying his statement as better understood as entertaining rhetoric than a statement of fact. But to be fair that should have been understood as such from anyone that hears such a comment. There’s no way for Price to be absolutely sure of such a thing. That’s clearly not intended as an academic premise by any means.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

      It may not be a lie, but I think that Price failed to think critically about a report because it fit into a narrative that satisfied his expectations. I suspect that he owes Ehrman an apology at the least.

      I actually wanted to believe it, too. I would prefer to think that Ehrman relied on a research assistant who had done good work in the past, but who did poorer work here which Ehrman failed to spot due to insufficient familiarity with mythicism. However, I don’t think that would explain some of the weak arguments that Ehrman makes.

      • Aaron

        I agree. In a lot of ways, it’d be kinder to think that Bart relied on his grad students. It would help account for the weak arguments he presents.

  • Zak

    I agree with you Chris. While reading Ehrman’s book, I never got the impression that he was being condescending or painting Price as a “thought criminal.” Actually, I thought Ehrman was quite respectful. The “meanest” that Ehrman was was probably in regards to Achayra, Gandy and Freke, but he never attacked them, just their arguments.

    As they say, haters gonna hate.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

      I think Ehrman intended to treat Price with respect, but as he is convinced that there is no valid case for doubting Jesus’ existence, it does not surprise that Price didn’t quite feel the love.

    • Jason Goertzen

      Is Ehrman being generous when he accuses Acharya of fabricating evidence (which she documented very carefully and certainly did not fabricate)? He gets upset for Price accusing him of FAR less, yet has not publicly apologized for this much, MUCH worse, almost libelous claim.

      I’m no fan of Acharya–I think she’s prone to serious “parallelomania”–and despite being interested in it, I’m not convinced by mythicism (I don’t find the evidence for it is sufficient for what strikes me as a claim that has very low prior probability); but I don’t think Ehrman did anything like a good job in his book, and I think he was unfair to quite a few people. His reading of the arguments of those mythicists whose work I *have* read was so uncharitable that in many cases he seemed to be bending over backward to make reasonable arguments sounds idiotic. Anyone reading Ehrman will have about as accurate an account of what mythicists believe as you’d get of what gnostics believe by reading early Christian polemics.

      This was disappointing, to me, given that Ehrman’s previous work has always struck me as reasonably well argued.

      • Jason Goertzen

        I intended to ask “Is Ehrman only attacking Acharya’s arguments?” I think he goes well beyond ‘only attacking the arguments’ at many points in his work.

  • David

    Chris, did you listen to Price’s podcast that is being referenced by Ehrman? In listening to it I don’t get the impression that Price was accusing Ehrman of not reading mythists’ books. He said that IF indeed the report was true, that it would make a lot of sense in light of all the errors and misrepresentations that are found in Ehrman’s book. According to Price, the book reads as if he Ehrman did not carefully read mythists’ books.

    In reference to the “thought-criminal” comment, I think Price is referring to the HuffPost article where Ehrman paints with a broad brush all mythists as being equal to Holocaust deniers and the like.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

      David,

      There was also a podcast on the 16th where Price seems to be claiming that Ehrman admitted he didn’t read the books and he further castigates him for his failure to do so. Had Price only made the first statement, there might not be an issue, but he doubled down with the second one.

      • David

        Ah, I see, thanks for the clarification. Hard to keep track of the back and forth.

        • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

          That’s putting it mildly.

  • http://thewrongmonkey.blogspot.com/ Steven Bollinger

    Ehrman:

    “I treat [Price] with respect in my book.”

    Huh. That was not my impression.

    • Steven Carr

      Try looking on page 5. The bit about respect comes just after Bart compares mythicists to Holocaust deniers.

      • Zak

        I really didn’t read that as him comparing people like Price and Carrier to holocaust deniers. In that section, he is talking about his target audience, and how he is not trying to convince the people who will never be convinced.

      • http://aigbusted.blogspot.com Ryan

        I read the book a couple of weeks ago, and I recall that Ehrman made a distinction between the more credible, scholarly mythicists like Price and Carrier and the hacks like Acharya S. I recall that he pointed out that Price had credentials and that Price was widely read, and I believe he referred to Richard Carrier as being a bright guy. So I don’t think that there is any cause for complaint on the mythicist side. The comparision to Holocaust deniers might sound offensive but you should read Ehrman’s points about why he makes the comparison. As I recall, he doesn’t see the two positions as exactly the same but there are points of contact.

        • Jasha

          Oh, come on…the comparison with Holocaust denial is totally gratuitous and serves no purpose other than to offend. If I said that your logic is exactly like something Hitler wrote in “Mein Kampf”, even if the point itself was innocuous, you would have every reason to take offense.
          There are plenty of other fringe historical theories he could have used for the comparison rather than one so grotesque, not to mention sinister and dangerous. Frankly being compared to a Holocaust denier is more insulting than anything Carrier wrote about Ehrman.

  • Steven Carr

    I should point out that I was amazed to hear Price comment the way he did.

  • wbf

    I think the main issue should be determining the actual point of origin of the error….Styles or Ehrman’s grad assistant. Because if any apology needs to be offered, it should first and foremost come from the source of the falsehood that Price trusted as true. I can understand why Price believed it, given his perception of the inadequate treatment and incomprehension of key mythicist arguments. SO I think Mr. Styles or the Graduate student should come forward with the nature of the correspondence that took place so we can all see from whence such a falsehood came… and who the responsible party was. Then THAT individual should apologize to both Ehrman AND Price for raising waves when no wind was blowing. IMHO

    • http://thewrongmonkey.blogspot.com/ Steven Bollinger

      Wow, some of you seem to just assume that the accusations against Ehrman couldn’t possibly be true. “Who’s wrong here — Styles or Ehrman’s grad assistant?” Cause it’s just impossible that Ehrman would lie.

      Could this be hero worship?

  • Steven Carr

    Ken Humphrey’s did way more damage to Bart’s reputation than Price ever did.

    Or rather, Humphrey’s pointed out where Bart changed into William Lane Craig-lite.

    http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?t=313610

    Read page 108 of Did Jesus Exist? and weep over what Bart has been reduced to saying….

    Matthew and Luke contradict each other about Judas…

    So…..

    (wait for it, wait for it)

    ………

    They contradict each other, so what can we conclude from that?

    ……….

    Time’s up.

    Here is the answer….

    It must be true!

    Because Matthew and Luke contradict each other, they must be speaking about real events.

    ‘The two utterly irreconcilable deaths of Judas (Matthew; Acts)? For Ehrman they stand not as two examples of palpable fraud but as evidence for “an early historical tradition.” (page 108). Would he tolerate this sort of self-serving nonsense from mythicists?’

    • J. J. Ramsey

      They [Matthew and Luke] contradict each other, so what can we conclude from that?

      ……….

      Time’s up.

      Here is the answer [from Ehrman] ….

      It must be true!Matthew and Luke are independent.

      Fixed it for you. You can disagree with the actual argument that Ehrman makes, but making a strawman is inexcusable.

      • Steven Carr

        So Bart uses stories he does not claim are true as evidence of a historical Jesus?

        And it is a ‘strawman’ to think Bart needs to think of a story as true before he accepts it as evidence of a historical Jesus?

        Wow! This gets worse and worse.

    • http://none larry

      Ken Humphreys is a complete idiot and a fool. His website “jesus never existed” is embarrassing and filled with trash talk and hate toward Jesus of Nazareth and Christianity that it would turn off anybody interesting in debating who Jesus was and what if anything in the gospels is historical except some atheist who is EXACTLY what Ken is… and that is a fucking egotistical PRICK!!

      And Robert Price is also a prick who is mad at Christianity and like Ken, wants it to go away. If I were Bart Ehrman, I would NOT pay any attention to what either of those pricks have to say! Price needs to worry more about his heart and loosing some weight. The man has gotten so damn fat he can barely walk!!

      And Price has NO balls. I listened to his show a few months ago and he presents his buddy from the Jesus Seminar, Robert Miller, PhD who is a skeptical NT scholar and I almost fell out of my seat as Miller starts telling Price who Jesus really was and how scholars know that and even what just a few of his sayings and teachings were!!! And Price NEVER once said “Wait a second here! Don’t you know Jesus never existed?” Price is honest about being way out in left field by himself though. He told a group of fellow NT scholars on YouTube that he knows he is way out there and when he has lectured the Jesus Seminar, he can see his fellow Seminar scholars looking up at him as if he needs to be put in a straight jacket and taken away for medication. Price can be refreshing and poke fun at himself and even has let the cat out of the bag a couple of times, admitting that it is possible a historical Jesus, whom the gospel stories are based, did exist but to him, it’s not likely. Ken Humphreys takes great pleasure in just flat stating that God does NOT exist and Jesus never existed either. Both a fiction, made up and faked.

      I’m an agnostic! Talk like Ken’s is stupid talk to me. Does Ken have a crystal ball and can look at the creation of the universe or early first century Israel which allows him to reject both god and Jesus with absolute certainty? I’m at a loss to understand how he can KNOW that god is bogus and Jesus never walked the earth which means the early Christians just “made him up like the Egyptians did Horus and the Greeks did Zeus! It also means Paul is a liar, Polycarp is a liar and Tacitus is either a liar or was sadly mistaken when he wrote that Christ was the origin of this evil superstition and it was squelched for awhile after Pilate had Jesus executed but the crazy religion and superstition broke out again and spread all the way to Rome! And what does one do with the fact that most Josephus scholars today including those who are NOT Christians such as Louis Feldman or Alice Whealey or Dr.Pines or Dr. Goldberg at wwwDOTjosephusDOTorg are mistaken when they conclude the “TF” DOES tell about jesus being executed by Pilate but some Christian scribe later tampered with it to make it read as if Josephus accepted Jesus as the Messiah. Origen, a Christian apologist in antiquity, clearly states that Josephus did NOT believe Jesus was the Messiah but Origen believed Josephus wrote James was the brother of Jesus called Christ! He mentioned it in his extant writings THREE times! And what is the big deal that Justin Martyr never mentioned the “TF” or Josephus? There is NO proof from his extant genuine writings that Justin ever heard of Josephus or heard anything by him if he did! And where is the proof Eusebius forged anything in Josephus? Where? All we have a “hearsay” written over a century after his death that Eusebius believed it was okay to lie for the faith! Guess Eusebius’ Bible didn’t says “if you say you are in Christ Jesus and do not keep his commandments, you are a liar” or Paul saying “do not be fooled! Liars (and he lists many other types of people) will not enter the kingdom of heaven”.

      Ehrman makes some excellent points in his book that are being backed now by other Old Testament and Jewish experts and New Testament scholars. And Ehrman makes some mistakes. Two made Richard Carrier, Phd mad as hell! Ehrman listed Carrier’s PhD as being in classics and he also attacked Tacitus for being mistaken about Pilate being a “procurator” which Carrier had to correct. His PhD is in ANCIENT HISTORY WITH INTEREST IN CHRISTIAN ORIGINS AND TACITUS WAS NOT MISTAKEN AS PILATE “DID” HAVE THE TITLE “PROCURATOR”.

      Ken Humphreys needs his face slapped and if I’m ever close enough to him, I’ll be happy to be the one to do it!

      And JUST WHAT ARE KEN HUMPHREYS’ QUALIFICATIONS? I can find NO degree in ANYTHING the man has!!! No masters or PhD even in how to fart in the dark.. much less Christian origins.

      We can ONLY play percentages here and when one takes into account “Q”, the Jesus Seminar’s take on what in the gospels WAS actually spoken by Jesus, Josephus’ two passages, Tacitus’ passage where he says Christianity is a evil superstition but that Chrestus, the origin of the name, was executed by one of our “procurators” Ponitus Pilate (Dr. Richard Carrier confirms that Pilate DID have the title “procurator” as well as “governor and perfect” thus refuting Humphreys insistance the passage is a forgery; Carrier holds Tacitus DID pen this passage and Dr. Carrier is right! (another stupid statement from Humphreys, yes when he debated Holding, Ken said “one can just look at the passage in Tacitus and it just leaps off the page as a forgery!”..Gee what an idiot! Who in hell would pay any attention to what that fool says about Tacitus?) To Ken is just leaps off the page!?! But to the vast majority of experts including Richard Carrier, PhD, the passage is genuine Tacitus!, Galatians where Paul meets Peter and Jesus’ brother James, Polycarp writing that he met John when he was a very old man who knew Jesus well and was a follower, Origen defending the virgin birth from an attack by Celus in 177 AD who made a vicious attack against Christianity being completely bogus and Jesus was born out of wedlock while his mother was engaged to Joseph because she had an affair with a Roman soldier named Pantera. This, BTW, is the view held by NT scholar James Tabor! But when one takes what evidence we DO have as a whole, it becomes clear! Most likely Jesus of Nazareth did exist and was executed by Pilate about 30 CE.

      And don’t tell me Nazareth didn’t exist in the first century. Richard Carrier, PhD has also ruled that out and has stated that the evidence SUPPORTS Nazareth existing in the first century. It’s puzzling to me but Carrier holds it’s most likely Jesus DID NOT EXIST but he is also honest about the FACT we can’t know with certainity! NO ONE CAN BE CERTAIN AND TO CARRIER, THE SECOND MOST LIKELY POSITION IS THAT JESUS WAS AN ENDTIMES MESSIANIC PROPHET WHO ENDED UP GETTING CRUCIFIED UNDER PILATE. And that, to me, is most likely the facts!

      Ken Humphreys does NOT have a knock out punch nor does anyone else that puts to rest a historical Jesus. It’s just all theory and spin and much ado about NOTHING!!

  • http://angrybychoice.fieldofscience.com Lorax

    BWAHAHAHAHA Ehrman, whose earlier work I very much enjoyed, is upset that Price accepted to the oral story of a graduate student. Ehrman doesn’t think Price is being fair for believing this story he heard. But when it comes to the story of Jesus, which was oral initially, that must be true.

  • Aaron

    If anyone is lying in the matter, it is one of your own grad assistants who told this to Steven Styles. Should I regard it as true based on the criterion of embarrassment?

    Reading this left me with tea coming out of my nose. Considering all of the weight both Ehrman and the world of Christian apologetics place on the criterion of embarrassment contra Price’s skepticism made this an excellent jab. :)

    • J. J. Ramsey

      Ah, but here’s the catch. We don’t have access to Steven Styles’ story, only to Price’s rendition of it. Now if Price’s account of Styles is true, then Price himself would have good reason to believe it on account of the criterion of embarrassment. However, since we don’t have Styles’ story, we can’t apply the criterion of embarrassment to it. We can apply the criterion to the story that we do have, namely Price’s hearsay of Styles’ story. If we do that, we notice that the story isn’t embarrassing for Price to tell, and that he would even have motivation to misread Styles as saying something embarrassing when he didn’t, or at worst make up the story altogether. The criterion, then, wouldn’t put much weight on Price’s account.

      Now if the situation we had were that someone sympathetic to Ehrman had heard from Styles that Ehrman had done some misconduct, then the criterion of embarrassment would allow one to put more weight on the statements purported to come from Styles.

  • dblbassbill

    Student research aside, in the same podcast he points to specific thing he disagreed with ehrman on. Did ehrman respond to those points.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

      No, which is part of the problem with making an accusation like that. It distracts from the substantive issues and it really doesn’t matter. If Ehrman’s arguments are good, it doesn’t matter if a grad student summarized the mythicist literature. If Ehrman’s arguments are bad, it doesn’t help if he read them himself.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ vinnyjh57

    Google tells me that Ehrman posted something about his use of grad students on his blog, but it’s behind the paywall.

    • http://stateofmyignorance.blogspot.com/ Zachary Kroger

      He did. He talked about how researchers tend to use research assistants, how he personally uses them, and how he went about writing his most recent book.

      Long story short, his RA’s do research and check sources for his academic books. But for his popular level books, he does everything on his own. As for his newest book, he personally read every mythicist book that he mentions. RA’s were not involved in it in any way.

      • Steven Carr

        I see. He has his sources checked for his ‘scholarly’ works?

        But for his recent book, he did everything by himself?

        I guess if he had got a research assistant to check the reference to Pliny’s Letter, the RA would have referenced it properly.

        And not have called it ‘letter number 10.’ (page number 52 of Did Jesus Exist?’

        I guess if you want a job doing well, get a research assistant to do it.

        That’s what they’re for!

  • http://none larry

    Ken Humphreys is the biggest hack & “nothing” to exist on the planet. This crazy atheist has NO credentials. NO expertise in ANY subject… yet he constantly makes wise-cracks at Christians in public & acts like what he is: A PRICK & religion hater of the highest order. Humphreys finds it just astonishing that people in the 21st century would believe in any god or religion and equates Christianity with Alice in Wonderland or a McDonald’s happy meal play sheet! Any supporter of the Jesus myth theory must be embarrassed at the trashy tone & cheep shots at his silly website Jesus Never Existed. This kind of site make is so clear that Humphreys is an ignorant fool who is nothing but a working class atheist who has an ax to grind with people who are Christians.

    Humphreys says in one debate that the passage about Jesus being executed by Pilate in the works of Tacitus: “it just jumps off the page as being an interpolation”. What horseshit!!! And who in the f*** is Ken Humphreys to think he even has the ability to decide what is an interpolation?? I can provide a list of experts as long as the New Jersey Turnpike that make it clear that Tacitus INDEED DID PEN the passage with a high degree of acceptance!!!! Even my friend Richard Carrier, Ph.D will tell you that there is “very little doubt that this is what Tacitus wrote”!! And this is from an expert who has serious doubts that Jesus even existed! Carrier’s new book, as he told it on his blog, will submit that it is most likely Jesus never existed but there is yet the small possibility that Jesus DID exist.

    I agree with Bart Ehrman & 99% of the scholars & historians in the world that Jesus did exist. Or that it is most likely that he existed. Bart now says he is certain that Jesus existed but in the past, Bart has said that a historian can only tell us what is most likely to have happened or be true when dealing with the past of hundreds & thousands of years ago. Bart may now be letting his emotions affect him.

    The Jesus myth crowd has NO convincing presentation to reject a historical Jesus. Only a questioning of what evidence does exist. Their problem is that almost ALL critical scholars hold that the gospels DO contain a historical core other than the name Pontius Pilate among a few others. That Paul really did meet the brother of Jesus & two of his closet followers (Peter & John), that Polycarp really did study under John when he was an old man and this John & some other old me Polycarp met did know and/or remember Jesus & heard him speak. That Josephus most likely DID write about Jesus being executed by Pilate & the “TF” suffers from a slight tampering rather than a complete forgery. That scholars such as Louis Feldman, Ph.D, Alice Whealey, Ph.D & Dr. Pines are correct that the original wording by Josephus, which he most likely used a Christian document also used by Luke as a source, read “he was believed to be the Christ/Messiah” rather than “was the Christ/Messiah” which is how the Arabic version & Jerome’s copy read. That it is misleading to claim that Origen’s copy of Josephus didn’t contain the “TF” as the original could very well be the reason Origen wrote that Josephus did not believe Jesus was the Messiah. Also it is noted that one quote from Josephus in Origen is not even from Josephus but another historian making it possible that Origen never even had a copy of Josephus but was using another’s work that quoted Josephus. It is misleading to claim that early Christian apologists such as Justin Martyr never mentioned the “TF” because it didn’t exist during their lifetime! Indeed there is NO evidence from Justin’s genuine letters that Justin Martyr ever read Josephus or even heard of him.

    And I could go on. But let me say that the Jesus Myth people are FAR from having a case that Jesus never existed!!! But on the otherside, as Burton L. Mack (author of “Who Wrote the New Testament: The Making of the New Testament” & noted critical New Testament scholar & expert on “Q”) said in an Email “the evidence for the historical Jesus is small but there is enough to indicate to me that he existed & I think we can safely identify some of his actual words. But the majority of what we read in the gospels is myth & legend”. So the problem for the other-side, the vast majority of scholars & experts both Christians, Jews, agnostics & atheists who hold that Jesus did exist…is that the evidence is small & a few items such as the “TF” are problematic AND THEY DON’T REALLY HAVE A KNOCK OUT PUNCH!!! That is why the Jesus myth people can create doubt.

    But what would be a knock out punch?? NOTHING!! That is right! No matter what is found it the future, those who insist Jesus never lived will reject it. Right now we have the tomb of Paul & scientists have drilled a hole in it & looked & saw bone fragments & linen. But it is REALLY PAUL? Could be. Yet Ken Humphreys & a very few others want to tell us that Paul probably didn’t exist either & if critical scholars reject some of his letters as fakes, let’s just throw them all out!

    Maybe Pontius Pilate didn’t exist either! Before the Pilate stone was found in 1961, a number of historians (especially in Europe)doubted Pilate lived. Afterall, Josephus & Tacitus write about Hercules as if he were a real man! But in 1961 the stone was found with an inscription dedicated to Pilate as governor of the place just as Luke says in his gospels, just as Pilate & Tacitus say. (Actually Tacitus says “procurator” but Pilate was governor, perfect AND procurator which is the position held by many experts including Richard Carrier, Ph.D who doubts Jesus existed). And there are stones & masonry works dedicated to Zeus but he didn’t exist did he? That is why there are yet a very few hyper-skeptical historians who question Pilate’s existence!!

    But to me, IF WE ARE FARE & OPEN TO ALL ANGLES of this fuss, we must conclude that from all the evidence we have that… we just can’t throw out some of it because someone thinks it may be tainted or a forgery or interpolation (& it’s the MINORITY who does and they could be right..but not likely)then we must conclude that Jesus did exist & was executed by Pontius Pilate about 30C.E. Beyond that, without using faith, we can’t conclude much more! Even the virgin birth is in serious doubt from just a skeptical reading of the New Testament. For example in Galatians, Paul wrote he went to Jerusalem and met for several days with men who knew Jesus in the flesh (Peter & James) & yet he never says a world in this genuine letters about the virgin birth! Isn’t that odd? Did they not tell Paul about such a fantastic birth? Or did Paul not think it worth mentioning? OR WAS THE VIRGIN BIRTH IDEA FORMULATED YEARS LATER WHEN TWO OF THE GOSPELS WERE WRITTEN??

    • http://last-comments.blogspot.com Aratina Cage

      The Jesus myth crowd has NO convincing presentation to reject a historical Jesus.

      I’m sorry, but what would that even look like? Does someone need to find a secret letter saying that Jesus was completely made up and sold as the messiah to a bunch of fools for their loyalty? (That is not going to happen, BTW.) Or what? What would people like you be convinced by?

      I mean, could future me convince future you that Harry Potter isn’t real by showing you these magical stories of things he did, or would you cite all the chatter about Harry Potter that is out there as evidence he does exist?

    • http://last-comments.blogspot.com Aratina Cage

      Oh, and larry, this:

      we just can’t throw out some of it because someone thinks it may be tainted or a forgery or interpolation

      received quite a laugh from me. I’m sure most con-artists would agree with you wholeheartedly.

    • http://thewrongmonkey.blogspot.com/ Steven Bollinger

      I agree with you that jesusneverexisted.com is a silly website, and not at all a credit to mythicism or to the serious investigation of history in general — beginning with its name, which makes the same mistake Ehrman does: assuming that the matter is settled and certain, one way or another.

      However, you do seem to lump a lot of people in with Humphreys who don’t deserve it.

      “Humphreys is an ignorant fool who is nothing but a working class atheist”

      What’s wrong with being a working-class atheist?

      You list off scholars who say one thing on a position, I could list off scholars who disagree, but you know what? Scholarship doesn’t come down to voting. That was one thing that was silly about the Jesus Seminar; another one was the way that Crossan and others leading the Seminar tried to act like no-one had ever had any serious doubt that Jesus existed.

      “Bart now says he is certain that Jesus existed”

      He certainly does, doesn’t he? Says that repeatedly in his new book. Also finds it unfortunate that people are questioning this. Scholars are supposed to encourage open inquiry and debate concerning their specialties. That’s a huge part of their job. Ehrman seems to be working in the opposite direction, trying to shut down debate about whether Jesus existed. It’s certainly backfiring on him with some people.

  • http://none larry

    Well Aratina, would YOU throw out the famous “TF” from Josephus’ writings just because a MINORITY of authors think it is a forgery? You throw out the Christ/Pilate passage in Tacitus because Ken Humphreys says “it just leaps off the page as a forgery”? Then what do we do with Richard Carrier, who doubts Jesus existed, saying that Tacitus almost certainly wrote it?? Dr. Carrier also says the author of John’s gospel clearly wanted his readers to believe Jesus existed but whether the author of John’s gospel BELIEVED Jesus existed is anybody’s guess… yet Earl Doherty (The Jesus Puzzle) thinks the gospel authors KNEW they were writing a complete fantasy, knew this Jesus never walked the earth. Now who should we throw out? Carrier or Doherty? Dr. Loisey (X Catholic Priest who had his ass kicked out for being the Ehrman/Crosson of his time) wrote John’s gospel had several authors as it contains parts of the original writing but what we have today has been redacted & interpolated so much that we must conclude we can’t know what the original said. We have a fragment of John that is dated 125CE plus or minus 40 years; but it’s just a a verse or two and they DO appear in our Bibles today so it offers no ancient support to Loisey. But how could something so small & fragmentary do so? And to make matter more confusing, (support for Loisey?) the passage in John’s gospel about the woman being caught in adultery & brought to Jesus by the Jewish leaders to see if he would uphold the law of Moses & agree she should be stoned to death, is NOT in the oldest extant copies of John. Just as oldest extant copies of Mark do not contain what our modern Bibles have as Mark’s last chapter!!!

    And if one wants to be skeptical of any ancient writings preserved by Christians, then we must throw out ALL of Josephus & Philo?? Josephus was considered a traitor by the Jews so Christians ended up preserving Josephus with the oldest extant copy dating to the 10th century. Same problem with Philo. Maybe we shouldn’t trust ANY of Josephus’ writings?

    Steven: Recently read in interview with Bart about his latest book & he said that the evidence available from all sources including a critical reading of the gospels, Paul & other ancient Christian authors show that Jesus “almost certainly existed”. Now that is MORE like the Bart I’m use to reading. It was Bart who said more than once that a scholar/historian dealing with events from the distant past such as hundreds & thousand of years ago (with Jesus two thousand years ago) can only tell us what is likely true & what is unlikely true.

    Christianity EVOLVED in it’s early stages. Paul believed Jesus rose from the dead but NOWHERE in his genuine letters do we read Paul saying a word about virgin birth AND PAUL CLAIMS TO HAVE MET JESUS’ BROTHER JAMES & TWO OF JESUS’ CLOSEST FRIENDS & FOLLOWERS!!! It has long puzzled me why Paul never mention such a fantastic birth since he met men who knew Jesus in the flesh. Did they fail to tell Paul or did Paul think it not worth mentioning? Or was that doctrine invented AFTER Paul’s death?

    When the church adopted December 25th as Jesus birthday, several prominent members of the religion objected saying the date was NOT when Jesus was born, that other dates were more likely especially the fall of the year & December 25th was but a date to appease the many pagan converts who celebrated the date while in paganism.

    My view continues to be that the Jesus Myth people have NO convincing argument that Jesus didn’t exist as a man. (and I understand what you mean in that it is basicly saying” we just don’t buy even the evidence that does exist! It’s probable to us that even that is made up fables”) That claiming the original Christians just made up Jesus whole cloth & maybe Paul too or that Paul was really Josephus (Atwill’s position) & ALL of Paul’s letters are fakes, finding examples of other dying & rising saviour gods in the mystery religions (and several of their examples are weak & not really clear), his virgin birth, claiming his December 25th birthday is a clear giveaway etc just don’t remove Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure who was REALLY executed by Pilate in a convincing way!!! But on the other hand, the evidence FOR a historical Jesus is small… & in some cases problematic (i.e. the “TF”) so there is NO knock out punch from the majority of scholars/experts who are convinced Jesus did exist.

    With Josephus experts such as Louis Feldman, Ph.D (Jewish), Alice Whealey, Ph.D (agnostic) & Gary Goldberg, Ph.D (atheist) convinced Josephus did write most of the “TF” & some Christian scribe latter was offended by the passage & tampered with it just a bit by added a line or two & changing the original “was BELIEVED or THOUGHT BY THEM to be the Messiah” to “WAS the Messiah”, the Tacitus passage, Paul’s confession he met Jesus brother in the flesh & two of his closest followers who knew & heard him & admitting he (Paul) clashed & argued with them & confronted Peter “to his face”, that Polycarp claimed he met one of these men when he was old & studied under him & others such as Ignatius claiming in letters that he met Polycarp who met John who knew Jesus in the flesh, that it is likely a saying document now lost & called “Q” which Dr. Mack, a “Q” expert, says he reconstructed & it contained NOTHING but quotes by Jesus about the Kingdom of God & teachings in parables & never holds Jesus as divine or God or virgin born or raised from the dead..all this to me, is strong indication that it is very likely that Jesus DID exist as a man & was EXECUTED BY PONTIUS PILATE ABOUT 29 CE. ( I mean there is little doubt Tacitus accepted that as fact in 110CE!!-I know, Tacitus was NOT an eyewitness & wrote about Hercules as if he also existed..Josephus also wrote about Hercules as if he existed..Oh the sneaky Christians should have expunged that!! but does Tacitus REALLY HAVE TO BE AN EYEWITNESS?? Can we trust a historian writing about the Civil War or the Titanic 80 years after it happened which is when Tacitus wrote about Jesus’ execution..80 years after it happened by one of Rome’s procurators Pontius Pilate. How did Tacitus know about the Christian religion, Christ being executed by Pilate & Pilate for that matter? Hearsay? Roman records? part of his life’s education? Nobody knows do they?)

    To you is that a sound position to hold even if you disagree?

    • Dave B

      The best part of this thread was when Larry finally SHUT THE FUCK UP! God damn! That was the mother of FRATS (fuck reading all that).

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  • randypacchioli

    Bart is absolutely right that Jesus Christ existed.Historians have never doubted this.No amount of evidence will convince people like Carrier that He existed.Price leaves the door open for the possibility but the light is minimal at best. Bart makes a valid point of the small time frame between Jesus’ crucifixion and Saul’s conversion-a gap of about 2 years and then his visit for 15 days three years later to talk to the apostle Peter and James the Lord’s half brother.For a historian this is priceless.I love his critique of Freke and Acharya S. books.There are many errors in these authors works.As in all of Bart’s works there are some truths mixed in with error.Its kind of strange that he takes Paul at his word-which is a good thing-when he tells about his meeting with Peter and James,but rejects Paul’s testimony concerning Christ’s resurrection.As an apologist many of Bart’s arguements against scripture can be answered.But he has done a good job in this book to show Christ existed.

  • http://leoquix.blogspot.com Quixie

    Great review. Spot on. Thanks for posting.
    (I find the comments section very amusing.)

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  • Kazuba

    Did Jesus levitate into the air in front of his disciples and then fly away into the sky? Where is he going? That sounds kind of weird to me. Funny this is seldomly mentioned. The resurrection gets all the attention. Whatever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/RonMorales626 Ron Morales

    The irony is that Price is accusing Ehrman of basing his criticism on second hand reports, when Price’s own criticism is, he admits, based on a second hand report.


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