Studying the Gospels – Bart Ehrman

Bart D. Ehrman is a professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina. He has written extensively on the historical Jesus, the early Christian apocrypha, the apostolic fathers, and the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.

It was this study that led him to understand that the details in the New Testament that are used as the basis for the belief in the divinity of Jesus are both contradictory and unverifiable. Part of this is the differing documents that have been used as sources.

There are some 5,700 ancient Greek manuscripts that are the basis of the modern versions of the New Testament, and scholars have uncovered more than 200,000 differences in those texts.

“Put it this way: There are more variances among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament,” Ehrman summarizes.

Most of these are inconsequential errors in grammar or metaphor. But others are profound. The last 12 verses of the Gospel of Mark appear to have been added to the text years later — and these are the only verses in that book that show Christ reappearing after his death.

Another critical passage is in 1 John, which explicitly sets out the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). It is a cornerstone of Christian theology, and this is the only place where it is spelled out in the entire Bible — but it appears to have been added to the text centuries later, by an unknown scribe.

In the video below, Dr. Ehrman discusses the resurrection story and how it fits in with how historians critically evaluate sources.

At the end of the interview with Ehrman the Washington Post reporter asks the rhetorical question question

Where does faith reside? Does it leave a residue when it is gone?

This shows the reporter’s lack of understanding of the process. I cannot speak for Ehrman, or anyone else, however, in my case, I never felt a loss. It was entirely a gain.


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