See here for a full RSS Feed of the podcasts.
Description of Episode
- Full Title: Did Jesus Exist? Bart Ehrman Q&A - Unbelievable? - 18 August 2012 -- Did Jesus Exist? Bart Ehrman Q&A
In this one-on-one edition of the show, Justin Brierley speaks to New Testament Historian Bart Ehrman about his recent book "Did Jesus Exist?" which argues for the historical fact of Jesus of Nazareth. Ehrman, whose books are more usually at odds with evangelicals, was this time attacked by atheist proponents of "mythicism" - the view that Jesus never existed. He responds to the criticisms, including mythicists Bob Price and Richard Carrier and answers questions sent in by Unbelievable? listeners.
For Did Jesus Exist? http://www.bartdehrman.com/books/did_jesus_exist.htm Bart's blog http://ehrmanblog.org/
For more Christian/non-Christian debate visit http://www.premier.org.uk/unbelievableor get the MP3 podcast http://ondemand.premier.org.uk/unbelievable/AudioFeed.aspx or Via Itunes
You may also enjoy: Unbelievable? 16th April 2011 - Biblical evidence for the Resurrection Bart Ehrman & Mike Licona; Unbelievable? 3 Jan 2009 "Misquoting Jesus" Ehrman & Williams, Bart Ehrman & Peter Williams - "Misquoting Jesus: Do we have the original writings of the New Testament?"
- Justin Brierley - Christian Moderator
- Bart Ehrman - Atheist
This episode doesn't have a theist, just the moderator.
Bart - [around 13:50] Carrier's review of my work is "vitriolic" and not carried out in a "scholarly mode". Saying things like "this book is crap is not scholarly discourse.". "People who are truly interested in the historical issues don't write like this."
I would have to agree with Bart Ehrman in this case. I truly wish that people who have good points to make don't undermine it with juvenile behavior. However, I don't agree that Bart makes a strong case for the existence of the historical Jesus. Part of this is that I am not strongly convinced by historical arguments. I can see that a reasonable person could support a belief in a historical Jesus, but I can't see that a strong case can be made. The counter arguments, by Carrier and Price primarily, seem convincing to me to the point that I am really agnostic about the existence of a historical Jesus. As Robert Price says, the historical Jesus if he existed is forever lost behind the stained-glass curtain of legend.
Bart - So a typical sort of argument from Carrier makes in his review is the "Pilot" error, dealing with a very minor point which has nothing to do with the issue. Richard Carrier didn't mount any positive arguments that Jesus didn't exist, and only attacked Ehrman's scholarship.
Bart - [around 24:40] Bart has an appeal to authority, claiming that Bob Price's opinion is not shared by virtually all mainstream scholars.
I have found that people lean on the consensus too much, especially apologists and Bart Ehrman. Bob Price has gone on the record as saying that he doesn't care about the consensus, and just treats each case as it comes. In Price's words, "truth isn't decided by a nose count." A small note about consistency - sometimes I refer to Robert Price, Bob Price, or Robert M Price. I've heard each of these used, even in this single episode, so please forgive my inconsistent use.
Bart - [around 28:30] Bart introduces the "criterion of embarrassment" for the crucifixion, citing Bob Price's response that there are popular novels from the second century and hero stories like Spartacus where their hero is crucified or tortured, but escapes. Thus, according to Bob Price, this sort of story was not embarrassing, but part of the literature already. Bart retorts that he "doesn't know what Bob is talking about, and further, Bob doesn't know what he is talking about either" in terms of novels. We have 5 Greek novels from the ancient world, and there are no characters in any of them who are crucified and then escape. He adds that the problem isn't that a hero gets crucified but a Messiah gets crucified. We don't have any record of any Jew prior to Christianity saying that the Messiah would get crucified.
To me, this isn't a problem. We have the same sort of thing in UFO cults and even in the Jehovah's Witnesses - the group expects something (e.g. rapture or getting beamed up) on a particular day. That day comes, nothing happens, and they rework the expectation. As for the Greek novels, I will have to check this. I am not familiar with the extent of the literature of the time.
Bart - challenges Bob Price to give a reference to any Jew mentioning Osiris within 200 years of Jesus. He then highlights the differences, such as Osiris staying dead, with the soul going to the underworld but the body not coming back to life.
From my understanding of both Bob Price and Richard Carrier, the claim isn't that the Jews consciously borrowed from the Osiris myth, but that it was part of the gestalt, with syncretism being a common process, and that one wouldn't expect a direct mention. Further, Bart is assuming that the pre-Gospel tradition (i.e. Paul) referred to a bodily resurrection - I'm not convinced this is the case.
Bart - considering the idea that the entire Testimonium Flavianum in Josephus is a forgery, he essentially says that if you take out the Christian bits, the rest of it reads like Josephus, has the style of Josephus, so it is likely to be Josephus. Also, if Christians had made up a passage, it would have been much longer and flowery.
I am not convinced at all by this. The passage right before the Testimonium and right after flow smoothly into each other, the passage does not appear in an otherwise complete table of contents, and there is no mention of the passage by Church fathers (such as Origen) who had every opportunity and desire to quote such a thing. Finally, perhaps the forger would know that if the language was too flowery it would be called out as a fraud. To me, trying to guess the language that might be used if the situation were different is not a strong foundation upon which to build an argument.