Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Irony, Distinguished Professor Bart D Ehrman!

There are epoch-making books, which even when they are still very recent make readers feel as if the time before their appearance were very long ago. Bart Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth,published just last spring, is definitely such a book. And not because it argues its case for historicism well, but, on the contrary, because Ehrman is such a highly-respected figure in the field of the study of the New Testament and early Christianity, and here he argued the case so surprisingly poorly. Or to put it more plainly, because he did not argue the case at all so much as state it and insult whoever might not agree.

In the light of the brouhaha over Did Jesus Exist? it is very interesting to read something published just a short while before it, a passage from the Afterword to the 2011 2nd edition of Ehrman's The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament,a book originally published in 1993, which seemingly everyone still regards quite highly, including all of those who were disappointed, or worse, by Did Jesus Exist? which, again, seems to include just about everybody.

Dixit Ehrman in said Afterward:

"But that is the way of scholarship. Sometimes the most obvious problems escape our notice. We ourselves should not be overly smug about the unquestioned assumptions of our predecessors. Our day, too, will come."

And so their day, Ehrman's and other historicists', has come with a fearful promptness. Some obvious problems do not escape so much as they are repeatedly set free, or banished only to reappear again and again at the gates, never having wanted to escape at all. It is time at long last for the question of Jesus' existence to be discussed at the center of academic study of early Christianity, and no longer at its fringes while being sneered at form the center. Is it really so convincingly plain to any expert that Jesus existed? Fine, then convince us, the public. Sneers are not convincing, and we're having the discussion anyway. The experts really should take part. It's only proper.

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