Saturday, October 20, 2007

Misquoting Jesus

As I prepare to teach a class on New Testament textual criticism, it seems appropriate to interact with Bart Ehrman, whose book Misquoting Jesus is just another in a list of very popular books attempting to refute Christianity. Like Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Ehrman's main problem is that he doesn't think well, that his "arguments" are not persuasive because they involve logical fallacies and lack adequate support.

With regard to the reliability of the New Testament, Ehrman adopts a hermeneutic of suspicion (or skepticism) for a very silly--and self-centered--reason. In effect, his whole approach is based on the reasoning he describes here...
I came to realize that it would have been no more difficult for God to preserve the words of scripture than it would have been for him to inspire them in the first place... And if he didn't perform that miracle [of preserving the words], there seemed to be no reason to think that he performed the earlier miracle of inspiring those words.
It doesn't take a gifted logician to see that this is not a valid, cogent argument, but merely an arrogant opinion. He is saying, in effect, "If I were God, I would have done it this way. Since it was not done the way I think it should have been, it cannot have involved God." This, of course, is just another case of the root of all sin, the pride by which we would put ourselves in the place of Almighty God. Unfortunately, many of Ehrman's readers will be either unequipped to see through this sort of sloppy thinking or willing to come to the same conclusion (and thus deny the claim of God upon their lives).

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Logic aside - simply because your refutation here is no more logical, illogical or valid than Erhman's "arguments" - you are probably correct, in asserting that Ehrman is merely expressing an opinion. While it may be arrogant, or otherwise, it is nonetheless a cogent one. Or, again, at least as cogent as your refutation. So whom do we believe?

How is it that this part, or all of Ehrman's "arguments", can be deemed to be wholly founded in pride? Are you sure that this is the root of all evil? Don't we put ourselves in the place of Almighty God when we love one another, as He does with us? Is this too, evil pride?

Please also note, that, just because one is willing to accept, or potentially subscribe to this "conclusion" as you say, it does not necessarily preclude them from "the claim of God upon their lives". Admittedly, while this can be a stumbling block for believers, non, new or otherwise, it is not a mandated denial of the aforementioned claim, as you imply.

While I appreciate and suspect, if not believe, your motives as being well intended, unfortunately, your rationale here is just as sloppy as what you claim Erhman's to be.