Ehrman and Nazareth archeology—2

In a prior post I discussed Bart Ehrman’s comments on Nazareth archeology made during the Price-Ehrman debate. Here I rebut a number of Ehrman’s errors regarding Nazareth expressed recently on his semi-private weblog. General considerations I’ve often wondered why Bart Ehrman expresses any opinion at all on the archeology of Nazareth. After almost a decade (my first book came out in 2008) he obviously has not taken the time to acquaint himself with my work or with the subject. And yet he expresses himself on both counts with ill-founded confidence. His training was “in the study of the Greek manuscript tradition of the New Testament” under Bruce Metzger, among others. There is nothing in Ehrman’s background, training, or personal study … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 6

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this series of posts I’ve tried to show that the Price-Ehrman debate suffered largely because the two principals play by vastly different ground rules. It’s hard to have a meaningful (much less an exciting) exchange of ideas if the assumptions, acknowledged experts, and evidence are so dissimilar. This reminds me of the global warming debate, or of the long-standing evolution-creationism debacle. In all these cases what seems obvious to the scientist is contested—inevitably because a very powerful anti-scientific agenda is in play. As James Crossley noted in the post-debate conversation,[minute 49] “Paul” is a case in point. For Ehrman and mainstream scholarship, the Apostle was real, a convert to Christianity only a few years after the … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 5

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this post I’d like to comment on a few points in the Price-Ehrman debate that I found particularly important. The following discussions have reference especially to views I’ve presented elsewhere on this website and in the final chapter of my book NazarethGate. Where possible I link to relevant webpages. (a) Dating “Paul.” Ehrman dated Paul to the first century CE on the basis of the First Letter of Clement. However, the reference is invalid. We have recently noted on this website that 1 Clement mentions Paul several times: “It is traditionally attributed to Clement of Rome and dated somewhere between 81 and 98 CE. However, H. Detering (1994:75) has noted that the epistle knows 1 Corinthians … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 4

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In the debate, Ehrman trumpeted numerous positions that are completely indefensible from an evidentiary standpoint. It is astonishing to me that these fractured positions (below)—like broken vertebrae on a decomposing skeleton—comprise what many New Testament professors still consider the backbone of ‘mainstream’ thought. It is as if mythicist scholarship over the last two centuries—from Bauer to Brodie—simply doesn’t exist. And indeed it doesn’t exist, for no lecture hall in Christendom today admits the works of Jesus mythicists. The contemporary situation in biblical studies resembles that of the evolution-creationism debate. Since the time of Darwin science has proven that God did not create the universe in six days. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, however, over 40% of … Continue reading

Ehrman and Nazareth archeology—1

Links:     YouTube     Cleeng (for those who already paid to view)     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar [Note: This post is also filed under the title “The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 3”.] Ehrman’s first order of business in the debate was to tackle the archeology of Nazareth. In the days since then he has also expressed himself more fully regarding Nazareth on his weblog. So, I will address Ehrman’s debate comments on Nazareth here, and his other comments on Nazareth in a separate post to follow this series. Without mentioning me by name, Ehrman asserted at the beginning of his opening statement: “One argument commonly found among mythicists is that since there was no Nazareth at the time of Jesus, it follows that Jesus of Nazareth could not have … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 2

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar Mythicism is not “scholarly”? In the last post I mentioned that Jesus mythcists and historicists are talking past each other, and how I want to examine some underlying assumptions that may be the cause. So, here we’ll begin by looking at one little exchange that occurred in the debate. In the final cross-examination segment, Dillahunty asked “Why is mythicism not taken seriously?” Ehrman’s astonishing answer was simply an argumentum ad populum: “It’s not a question debated among scholars.” Wow. Of course, that has nothing to do with lack of evidence or even with history. The short exchange can be paraphrased like this: Dillahunty: Why is mythicism not taken seriously? Ehrman: Because it’s not [a question] taken seriously. … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 1

Links:     YouTube     Cleeng (for those who already paid to view)     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar      Note: This review is based on hand-written notes taken down quickly during the 3-hour debate hosted by Mythicist Milwaukee, before the debate went online (links above). Lacking time stamps, I have not rechecked quotations against the video. Hence, all quotes (even when quotation marks are used below) should be regarded as paraphrases, not as the exact renderings of words uttered. (Readers are welcome to email corrections, time stamps, and—as always—comments.)      A post-debate discussion among several scholars also took place. The audio of that secondary event is online, and I occasionally reference it (“Post-debate”) below with the applicable time stamp.      To date, Neil Godfrey (Vridar) has uploaded two posts regarding this … Continue reading

“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 4

Brian: One more question on the archeology itself… Do the different sects of Christianity agree on a location for Nazareth? Because you have the traditional Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, the Armenian Church all existing there at the same time. Was there any scuttlebutt between them? René: [There has been much dispute in Nazareth itself over what took place where, who lived where, etc. Regarding the location of the town itself, however, there has been no dispute.—RS] No, no. I think everybody agrees… There’s been no discussion to my knowledge of any other Nazareth. I discuss this a little in my books. It would not fly at all… If somebody said that Nazareth was really somewhere else, then you’d have ancient … Continue reading

Closed and open minds

Provocative work by fully credentialed specialists in New Testament studies is now quietly being conducted ‘behind the scenes’—that is, out of the general view of the public. An increasing portion of this work is supportive of Jesus mythicism, and a partial list of names quickly comes to mind: Thomas Brodie (recently), Hermann Detering, Matthias Klinghardt, Dennis MacDonald, Robert Price, Markus Vinzent… The historicity of Jesus is now seriously being undermined by these and other fully-accredited scholars. However, one wouldn’t suspect this by reading popularizing literature emanating from the pens of noted scholars such as Bart Ehrman. For that academic, the case is not merely closed—it was never open. Ehrman now has come out with yet another potboiler directed at the … Continue reading

Just a Head’s Up: The Salm-Carrier exchange (May 1-2, 2013)

I feel compelled to defend myself against a cavalier and condescending review by Richard Carrier on his blog. The review deals with the recently published book, Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, a collection of contributions from leading Jesus mythicists—including myself and Richard Carrier. Several bloggers have quickly commented, including Neil Godfrey who refers to Carrier’s “Salm-bashing.” Indeed, I find Carrier’s review unprofessional and unjustifiably offensive towards me (“One of the worst contributions is by Salm”…“disorganized argumentation against Nazareth”…“many errors of logic”…). But the main problem is not my work—over which I have no reservations—but Carrier’s penchant to throw stones without taking better aim. In fact (and this rather surprises me), he doesn’t seem to … Continue reading