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Switch to Forum Live View Bart Ehrman’s on Did Jesus Exist?
6 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2012 - 6:22PM #1
Posts: 17,597
Bart Ehrman’s on Did Jesus Exist?

In the next few posts we will have a Q and A time with Professor Bart Ehrman about his new Harper book, Did Jesus Exist? which (not surprisingly) has sparked considerable interest. A special thanks to Bart for taking considerable time to answer the questions I sent him.

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2012 - 11:49PM #2
Posts: 53,304

Apparently the Concensus is that Bart Ehrman is essentially basically *right*on* ...

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6 years ago  ::  Jun 16, 2012 - 6:53PM #3
Posts: 26,191

The enduring problem in this forum is that requests to be shown the evidence for an historical Jesus boil down to Paul's mention of James, and that's 100% of it.

The rest is merely argument from authority - the insistence that experts think so.

That's useless unless we're told WHY experts think so and given the chance to form an opinion.

An Ehrman interview on YouTube on the subject had him mentioning James and insisting that everyone in the game thinks an historical Jesus existed - which sounds ominously familiar.

Part 1 of the interviews is merely outline.  No evidence is discussed.  

In Part 2 we find an attack on the motives of people who seriously wonder whether an HJ existed, accompanied by the accusation that they have no interest in the actual history.  That sort of attack, which I know well from this board, is a pretence that no problem exists.

Ehrman deals with the problem of silence - the absence of contemporary records - fairly.  The silence suggests (at the least)  that sensational miracles were not attributed to him in his lifetime.

In Part 3 Ehrman says references by Josephus, Pliny and Tacitus show that Jesus was 'known to exist' very many decades after the traditional date of his death.  But that overstates the case.  It shows that these authors knew the stories, not that the stories were true.  Ordinarily this distinction wouldn't be very important, but with Jesus, active bands of followers were promoting the stories about him.  The number of true statements (if any) in those stories is the key thing.

And he properly mentions Paul's mention of Peter and James.  But of Paul's letters, he claims "they show beyond a doubt that Jesus existed as a Jewish teacher in Palestine in the 20s CE."  No they don't.  They're extremely thin on biographical data of any kind, and Galatians 1:12 hangs over everything Paul says.

On the other hand I understand from elsewhere that in his book he mentions that "sayings of Jesus" in NT Greek are testable as to the ease - the goodness of grammatical and vocabulary fit - with which they translate into Aramaic or not.  The existence of a body of sayings in Aramaic is a mild positive, since such a body would be closer to any real Jesus than sayings in NT Greek are.

Likewise the NT tales of Jesus fighting with and bitching about his family smack of a real person - I don't know if Ehrman mentions those, but I imagine so.  (Suggestions that Jesus was puny may simply be taken from Isaiah.)

It's possible an HJ existed.  On what I know, it's not certain, not even more probable than not - remove James and very little remains - so I should read Ehrman, I guess.  So far it sounds like a book to borrow rather than buy.

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