Bart Denton Ehrman (/bɑːrt ˈɜːrmən/; born October 5, 1955) is an American New Testament scholar focusing on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, the origins and development of early Christianity. He has written and edited 30 books, including three college textbooks. He has also authored six New York Times bestsellers. He is currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Bart D. Ehrman
Bart Denton Ehrman
October 5, 1955
Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.
|Residence||Durham, North Carolina, U.S.|
|Employer||The Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.|
|Title||James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies|
Ehrman grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and attended Lawrence High School, where he was on the state champion debate team in 1973. He began studying the Bible, Biblical theology and Biblical languages at Moody Bible Institute, where he earned the school's three-year diploma in 1976. He is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he received his bachelor's degree. He received his PhD (in 1985) and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied textual criticism of the Bible, development of the New Testament canon and New Testament apocrypha under Bruce Metzger. Both baccalaureate and doctorate were conferred magna cum laude.
In Misquoting Jesus Ehrman recounts becoming a born-again, fundamentalist Christian as a teenager. He recounts being certain in his youthful enthusiasm that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error. His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages, particularly Koine Greek, and to textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled:
I did my very best to hold on to my faith that the Bible was the inspired word of God with no mistakes and that lasted for about two years … I realized that at the time we had over 5,000 manuscripts of the New Testament, and no two of them are exactly alike. The scribes were changing them, sometimes in big ways, but lots of times in little ways. And it finally occurred to me that if I really thought that God had inspired this text … If he went to the trouble of inspiring the text, why didn’t he go to the trouble of preserving the text? Why did he allow scribes to change it?
Ehrman has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He was the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope "Spirit of Inquiry" Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.
Ehrman currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs. Ehrman formerly served as President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, chair of the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society, book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, and editor of the monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers (Scholars Press).
Ehrman speaks extensively throughout the United States and has participated in many public debates, including debates with William Lane Craig, Dinesh D'Souza, Mike Licona, Craig A. Evans, Daniel B. Wallace, Richard Swinburne, Peter J. Williams, James White, Darrell Bock, Michael L. Brown and Robert M. Price.
In 2006 he appeared on The Colbert Report and The Daily Show, to promote his book Misquoting Jesus, and in 2009 reappeared on The Colbert Report with the release of Jesus, Interrupted. Ehrman has appeared on the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, A&E, Dateline NBC, CNN, and NPR's Fresh Air and his writings have been featured in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.
Ehrman has written widely on issues of the New Testament and early Christianity at both an academic and popular level, much of it based on textual criticism of the New Testament. His thirty books include three college textbooks and six New York Times bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus, Jesus, Interrupted, God's Problem, Forged, How Jesus Became God, and The Triumph of Christianity. More than two million copies of his books have been sold, and his books have been translated into 27 languages.
In The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Ehrman argues that there was a close relationship between the social history of early Christianity and the textual tradition of the emerging New Testament. He examines how early struggles between Christian "heresy" and "orthodoxy" affected the transmission of the documents. Ehrman is often considered a pioneer in connecting the history of the early church to textual variants within biblical manuscripts and in coining such terms as "proto-orthodox Christianity".
In Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Ehrman agrees with Albert Schweitzer's thesis that Jesus was a Jewish apocalyptic preacher and that his main message was that the end times was near, that God would shortly intervene to overthrow evil and establish his rule on Earth, and that Jesus and his disciples all believed these end time events would occur in their lifetimes.
In Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, Ehrman expands on his list of ten historical and factual inaccuracies in Dan Brown's novel, previously incorporated in Dan Burstein's Secrets of the Code.
In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman introduces New Testament textual criticism. He outlines the development of New Testament manuscripts and the process and cause of manuscript errors in the New Testament.
In Jesus, Interrupted, he describes the progress scholars have made in understanding the Bible over the past two hundred years and the results of their study, results which are often unknown among the population at large. In doing so, he highlights the diversity of views found in the New Testament, the existence of forged books in the New Testament which were written in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later, and his belief that Christian doctrines such as the suffering Messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the Trinity were later inventions.
In Forged, Ehrman posits some New Testament books are literary forgeries and shows how widely forgery was practiced by early Christian writers—and how it was condemned in the ancient world as fraudulent and illicit. His scholarly book, Forgery and Counterforgery, is an advanced look at the practice of forgery in the NT and early Christian literature. It makes a case for considering falsely attributed or pseudepigraphic books in the New Testament and early Christian literature "forgery", looks at why certain New Testament and early Christian works are considered forged, and describes the broader phenomenon of pseudepigraphy in the Greco-Roman world.
In 2012, Ehrman published Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, defending the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth in contrast to the mythicist theory that Jesus is an entirely fictitious being.
The 2014 release of How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee examines the historical Jesus, who according to Ehrman neither thought of himself as God nor claimed to be God, and proffers how he came to be thought of as the incarnation of God himself.
In The Triumph of Christianity: How a Forbidden Religion Swept the World, he notes that from the diversity of Christianity "throughout the first four Christian centuries", eventually only one form of Christianity, Nicene Christianity, became dominant under the rule of the Roman Emperor Constantine and his successors.
Ehrman has been the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope "Spirit of Inquiry" Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.
Daniel Wallace has praised Ehrman as "one of North America's leading textual critics" and describes him as "one of the most brilliant and creative textual critics I have ever known". Wallace argues, however, that in Misquoting Jesus Ehrman sometimes "overstates his case by assuming that his view is certainly correct." For example, Wallace asserts that Ehrman himself acknowledges the vast majority of textual variants are minor, but his popular writing and speaking sometimes makes the sheer number of them appear to be a major problem for getting to the original New Testament text.
Ehrman's The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings is widely used at American colleges and universities. The textbook holds to a traditional interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas in the context of second-century Christian gnosticism, a view which has been criticized by Elaine Pagels.
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Darrell L. Bock and Josh D. Chatraw have disputed Ehrman's depiction of scholarly consensus, saying: "It is only by defining scholarship on his own terms and by excluding scholars who disagree with him that Ehrman is able to imply that he is supported by all other scholarship." Michael R. Licona, notes, however, that "his thinking is hardly original, as his positions are those largely embraced by mainstream skeptical scholarship".
Gary Kamiya states in Salon that "Ehrman's scholarly standing did not soothe the evangelical Christians who were outraged by Misquoting Jesus. Angered by what they took to be the book's subversive import, they attacked it as exaggerated, unfair and lacking a devotional tone. No fewer than three books were published in response to Ehrman's tome". In 2014, Zondervan published How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature: A Response to Bart D. Ehrman as a planned companion volume to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God. The contributing authors—including Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, and Simon Gathercole—present Ehrman as "prone to profound confusion, botched readings and scholarly fictions." Bird writes, "For conservative Christians, Ehrman is a bit of a bogeyman, the Prof. Moriarty of biblical studies, constantly pressing an attack on their long-held beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible.... For secularists, the emerging generation of 'nones' (who claim no religion, even if they are not committed to atheism or agnosticism), Ehrman is a godsend."
Speaking to CNN, Rev. Guy Williams, a Methodist minister in Houston, said of Ehrman: "His take on the scriptures is a gift to the church because of his ability to articulate questions and challenges. It gives us an opportunity to wrestle with the [Bible's] claims and questions."
Christianity was an amazingly diverse phenomenon throughout the first four Christian centuries, with different Christians advocating an enormous range of beliefs and engaging in strikingly different practices. This has been the subject of a large number of books in modern times, especially over the past forty years.
Christianity in Antiquity (CIA)
Christian Frederick Matthaei (4 March 1744 in Mücheln – 26 September 1811), a Thuringian, palaeographer, classical philologist, professor first at Wittenberg and then at Moscow.Codex Montfortianus
Codex Montfortianus designated by 61 (on the list Gregory-Aland; Soden's δ 603), and known as minuscule 61 is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament on paper. Erasmus named it Codex Britannicus. Its completion is dated on the basis of its textual affinities to no earlier than the second decade of the 16th century, though a 15th-century date is possible on palaeographic grounds.
The manuscript is famous for including a unique version of the Comma Johanneum. It has marginalia.Codex Porphyrianus
Codex Porphyrianus designated by Papr or 025 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), α 3 (von Soden), is a Greek uncial manuscript of the Acts of Apostles, Pauline epistles, and General epistles, with some lacunae, dated paleographically to the 9th century. It is one of a few uncial manuscripts that include the Book of Revelation.It was discovered and edited by Constantin von Tischendorf. The manuscript is lacunose.Did Jesus Exist? (Ehrman)
Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth is a 2012 book by the academic and author Bart D. Ehrman, a scholar of the New Testament and writer of over twenty-five books (including three college textbooks) in that field of study. In the book, written to counter the idea that there was never such a person as Jesus of Nazareth at all, Ehrman sets out to demonstrate the historical evidence for Jesus' existence, and he aims to state why all experts in the area agree that "whatever else you may think about Jesus, he certainly did exist."Ehrman examines the historicity of Jesus and includes some criticism of Christ mythicists. As he does in other works such as Forged and Jesus, Interrupted, he disregards an apologetics-based or otherwise religiously-charged approach to aim at looking at the New Testament using historical-critical methodology. He argues that a specific historical Jesus is likely to have really existed in the 1st century AD. Even as accounts about that figure later on brought in additional misinformation and legendary stories, Ehrman states, multiple reasons still remain to see things as framed around a flesh-and-blood actual person, at least at first.Forged (book)
Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are is a book written by the noted biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman. Although it has long been recognised that numerous Epistles of the New Testament bear names of authors who are unlikely to have written them, traditional Christian teaching has been that it was an accepted practice in antiquity for a writer to attribute his work to a well-known figure from the past, or a teacher who has greatly influenced him. Forged contends that this is incorrect and the practice would have been condemned as dishonest by all authorities in antiquity. Falsely attributed writings are often referred to as "pseudepigraphs" but Ehrman maintains that the more honest term is "forgery". The book posits that 11 or more books out of the 27 books of the Christian New Testament canon were written as forgeries. In his book, Ehrman points out numerous inconsistencies which he finds within the New Testament which appear to support many of his claims, such as the fact that in Acts 4:13 the statement is made that both Peter and John were illiterate, yet in later years entire books of the Bible were then alleged to have been written by them.Gospel of the Saviour
The Gospel of the Saviour is a fragmentary Coptic text from an otherwise unknown gospel that has joined the New Testament apocrypha. It consists of a fragmentary fire-damaged parchment codex that was acquired by the Egyptian Museum of Berlin in 1961 (accessioned as Papyrus Berolinensis 22220). Its nature was only discovered in 1991, when it came round to being conserved (the sheer number of similar manuscripts being conserved causing the 30-year delay), and was revealed in a 1996 lecture by Charles W. Hedrick. It has been edited and translated into English by Hedrick and Paul Mirecki (Hedrick and Mirecki 1999) and by Bart D. Ehrman (Ehrman 2003). The fragmentary nature of the text admits of more than one sequential ordering of the contents, giving rise to more than one useful translation, and some public discussion (see § References).
The manuscript appears to date from the 6th century; Hellenisms in the vocabulary and grammar suggest that it was translated from a lost Greek original. The hypothetic original Greek text on which it is based is thought to have been composed somewhere in the late second or early third century, judging from the theology and style. The Gospel is not a narrative but a dialogue, a form often chosen in Antiquity for didactic material.
The content is heavily gnostic in that salvation is available only to those who understand the secret knowledge (gnosis), and also shows parallels with the Gospel of Peter, in that the significance of the Crucifixion is somewhat watered down, being considered a part of a heavenly journey, an idea much more in keeping with a gnostic world-view. The unnamed Saviour (assumed to be Jesus) engages in a dialogue with his apostles that is somewhat more personal than is found elsewhere. And at one point, the cross itself is addressed, as if it is a living creature, a companion rather than a device for death.Jesus, Interrupted
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) is a book by Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This work includes a narrative of Ehrman's own progression in Biblical studies and beliefs, an overview of the issues raised by scholarly analysis of the Bible, details of a selection of findings from such analysis, and an exhortation regarding the importance of coming to understand the Bible more fully.
Regarding the importance of Biblical study, Ehrman says in the preface, "This kind of information is relevant not only to scholars like me, who devote their lives to serious research, but also to everyone who is interested in the Bible -- whether they personally consider themselves believers or not. In my opinion this really matters. Whether you are a believer -- fundamentalist, evangelical, moderate, liberal -- or a nonbeliever, the Bible is the most significant book in the history of our civilization. Coming to understand what it actually is, and is not, is one of the most important intellectual endeavors that anyone in our society can embark upon."
One particular statement from early on appears to summarize the development of the subject matter that Ehrman attempts to cover in this volume: "Scholars of the Bible have made significant progress in understanding the Bible over the past two hundred years, building on archaeological discoveries, advances in our knowledge of the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages in which the book of Scripture were originally written, and deep and penetrating historical, literary, and textual analyses."Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony is a book written by biblical scholar and theologian Richard Bauckham and published in 2006 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
The book challenges the consensus view that, "while the eyewitnesses originated (at least some of) the traditions about Jesus, these were then transmitted as anonymous traditions in the early Christian communities, developing in all sorts of ways in the process, and reached the Gospel writers as the product of such community transmission and development." It does so by presenting the historical argument that the synoptic Gospels are based "quite closely" on the testimony of eyewitnesses, while one (the Gospel of John) is written by an eyewitness. The final chapter offers a theological argument against the dichotomy between the Christ of faith and the historical Jesus.Ben Witherington III described Jesus and the Eyewitnesses as a paradigm shift in Gospels study. In a special issue of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus devoted to the book, Samuel Byrskog described it as "a remarkable achievement which rightly places the role of eyewitnesses in early Christianity on the international scholarly agenda and points to its historical and theological significance." According to Judith CS Redman, this book also contributes among others to "offer a new paradigm which does not ignore the Fourth Gospel in the search for historical information about Jesus".It was awarded the "2007 Christianity Today book in biblical studies" and in 2009 the Michael Ramsey Prize for theological writing ("placed something of a bomb under a good deal of New Testament scholarship").Bauckham reflected in a 2016 radio debate that when the book was first published there was a "huge range of reactions, from people who are wildly enthusiastic to people who absolutely hate it", and noted that his debate partner Bart D. Ehrman disagreed with his conclusions.An expanded second edition of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses was published by Eerdmans in 2017.Minuscule 326
Minuscule 326 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), α 257 (Soden), is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Paleographically it has been assigned to the 10th century.
Formerly it was labelled by 33a and 39p (Scrivener, Gregory).
It was prepared for liturgical use.Minuscule 424
Minuscule 424 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), Ο12 (in the Soden numbering), is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 11th century.
Formerly it was designated by 66a and 67p.Minuscule 579
Minuscule 579 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), ε 376 (von Soden), is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century. Formerly it was labelled as 80e (Scrivener). The manuscript is lacunose.Minuscule 81
Minuscule 81 (in the Gregory-Aland numbering), or α162 (in the Soden numbering) is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on a parchment. It is dated by a colophon to the year 1044. Formerly it was labelled by 61a and 61p (Gregory). The manuscript is lacunose. It was adapted for liturgical use.Minuscule 88
Codex Regis (Minuscule 88 in the Gregory-Aland numbering) (α 200 in von Soden's numbering), is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 12th-century. It has marginalia.
Formerly it was labelled by 83a, 93p, and 99r.Misquoting Jesus
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (published as Whose Word Is It? in United Kingdom) is a book by Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The book introduces lay readers to the field of textual criticism of the Bible. Ehrman discusses a number of textual variants that resulted from intentional or accidental manuscript changes during the scriptorium era. The book made it to The New York Times Best Seller List.Novum Instrumentum omne
Novum Instrumentum omne was the first published New Testament in Greek (1516). It was prepared by Desiderius Erasmus (1469–1536) and printed by Johann Froben (1460–1527) of Basel. Although the first printed Greek New Testament was the Complutensian Polyglot (1514), it was the second to be published (1522). Erasmus used several Greek manuscripts housed in Basel, but some verses in Revelation he translated from the Latin Vulgate.Five editions of Novum Instrumentum omne were published, though its title was changed to Novum Testamentum omne with the second edition, and the name continued. Erasmus issued editions in 1516, 1519, 1522, 1527, and 1536. Notable amongst these are the second edition (1519), used by Martin Luther for his translation of the New Testament into German, the so-called "September Testament," and the third edition (1522), which was used by Tyndale for the first English New Testament (1526) and later by translators of the Geneva Bible and the King James Version. With the third edition, the Comma Johanneum was included. The Erasmian edition was the basis for the majority of modern translations of the New Testament in the 16–19th centuries.Proto-orthodox Christianity
The term proto-orthodox Christianity or proto-orthodoxy was coined by New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman and describes the Early Christian movement which was the precursor of Christian orthodoxy. Ehrman argues that this group from the moment it became prominent by the end of the third century, "stifled its opposition, it claimed that its views had always been the majority position and that its rivals were, and always had been, 'heretics', who willfully 'chose' to reject the 'true belief'." In contrast, Larry W. Hurtado argues that proto-orthodox Christianity is rooted in first century Christianity.The Jesus Mysteries
The Jesus Mysteries: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? is a 1999 book by British authors Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy, which advances the argument that early Christianity originated as a Greco-Roman mystery cult and that Jesus was invented by early Christians based on an alleged pagan cult of a dying and rising "godman" known as Osiris-Dionysus, whose worship the authors claim was manifested in the cults of Osiris, Dionysus, Attis, and Mithras. This thesis is a fringe theory and is not accepted by mainstream scholars.
The authors propose that Jesus did not literally exist as an historically identifiable individual, but was instead a syncretic re-interpretation of the fundamental pagan "godman" by the Gnostics, who the authors assert were the original sect of Christianity. Freke and Gandy argue that Orthodox Christianity was not the predecessor to Gnosticism, but a later outgrowth that rewrote history in order to make literal Christianity appear to predate the Gnostics. They describe their theory as the "Jesus Mysteries thesis".
The book has been extensively criticized by mainstream scholars and historians, who state that the book's thesis is wildly inaccurate, that it is filled with obvious historical errors, that its main points are contradictory, and that it relies heavily on out-of-date sources written by non-experts. These scholars do not regard the book as a work of serious scholarship and instead view it as merely what historian of early Christianity Bart D. Ehrman has called "sensationalist writing driven by a desire to sell books."