If Wikipedia is to be believed, Bart Ehrman is a New Testament scholar who became a Christian as a teenager before ultimately changing his views and becoming agnostic (read: atheist) due to the problems of evil and suffering. He’s now pretty well-known among apologists as a more reasonable version of Richard Dawkins.
It’s no surprise, therefore, to see him in a debate about the existence of Jesus, who he states was a real human being, but is not God. Andrew Wilson over at WYTM has handily picked out the most useful quotes, so I’m not just going to copy-paste them here, but here’s the summary for you time-starved individuals who can’t be bothered to even read a summary:
- Where multiple unconnected individuals recall the same version of events, the likelihood of it being true increases exponentially; they couldn’t have all made it up.
- The bias of these accounts has no bearing on the situation (in any case, all accounts of the truth are biased to a certain extent).
- Therefore, Jesus Christ, attested to in multiple sources both in and not in the Bible, both Christian and non-Christian, must have existed.
The problem for Bart Ehrman, it would seem, comes up when you use his own logic on Jesus’ miracles. Here are Andrew Wilson’s words:
The fact that [these multiple sources] provided independent, multiple attestation of all sorts of events (healings, multiplication of loaves, casting out demons, the empty tomb and the resurrection appearances) would clearly indicate that the writers of those sources had not invented them. Interesting.
Presumably, the fact that these events both involved “miracles” and supported Christian belief might bother Bart Ehrman, and lots of other New Testament scholars, on the basis of their materialist presuppositions. But that would not stop them from having happened. As historians, the variety of independent sources available should lead them, and us, to conclude that these things were not invented. That this might be inconvenient for the secularist’s worldview is irrelevant, historiographically.
So there you have it. Bart Ehrman, like most secular moderns, does not believe Jesus rose from the dead. But, on the basis of his own argument, he probably should.