Member (Idle past 4030 days)
Message 1 of 2 (430640)
10-26-2007 2:05 PM
My university has lately been attracting some provocative lecturers.
After the Dembski debacle last month, Bart Ehrman, reknowned biblical scholar and the author of Misquoting Jesus, came to give a lecture and to sign some autographs. During the Q&A session - which, by the way, was far more civil than the Dembski session - a student asked Ehrman for his thoughts on the existence of Christ. I'm sorry that I can't offer a source, but I'll try to give my most accurate memory.
Ehrman said that he thought the historical evidence of Christ was quite strong. He acknowledged the existence of the Josephus sources and some other documentation, but he said that those sources were "not great evidence". Rather, he proposed that the letters of Paul provided stronger evidence; not because they referenced Christ, but because they passingly referenced Christ's brother, James. These matter-of-fact, easy-to-forget passages are, in Ehrman's words, "exactly what the historian looks for in these things".
In addition, Ehrman suggests that if Christ were a fictional legend, then certainly the early Christians wouldn't have made him die on a cross. This aspect, more than any other, drove away Jews from Christianity. Before Christ, there was not a single Jew who thought that the Messiah would be crucified; so when Christians tried to convert Jews, they initially, right out of the gate, faced an uphill theological battle. Ehrman made a provocative analogy: Imagine if someone came up to you and proclaimed that David Koresh, the crazy Waco terrorist, is the Supreme Lord and Savior of the Universe. My initial reaction would be, of course, a gut reaction: "What the f---?" That is exactly how the Jews felt when Christians told them about Jesus. Why would Christians have put themselves in that predicament?
Ehrman said that he might write a book on this subject, and I hope that he does. He is a funny guy and a brilliant scholar, and he also has an amazing life story (from Moody and fundamentalist to Princeton and agnostic - quite a change, in more ways than one). I've never really thought about the existence of Christ that much, but he gave me some great ideas to mull over. Any of his books I would definitely recommend.