22 April 2012

I'm losing more respect for Bart Ehrman every day

Posted on his Facebook page:
As many readers know, Richard Carrier has written a hard-hitting, one might even say vicious, response to Did Jesus Exist. I said nothing nasty about Carrier in my book – just the contrary, I indicated that he was a smart fellow with whom I disagree on fundamental issues, including some for which he really does not seem to know what he is talking about. But I never attacked him personally. He on the other hand, appears to be showing his true color.
What? Carrier's criticism of the book was scathing, no doubt. But he didn't attack Ehrman "personally". He attacked the book, quite relentlessly, for being a really shitty and poorly-researched book. I suppose it's hard for anyone not to take that personally, but Ehrman should have done his homework – and he definitely shouldn't have misrepresented Carrier's credentials. It also doesn't help Ehrman's case that he's stuck his own blog behind a paywall, basically ensuring it will be an echo chamber.

In any case, I still have no idea why anyone cares about whether a historical Jesus existed. Ehrman frequently uses the term "mythicists" in a derisive context, and in the process creates a false dichotomy. There's a third and much more evidential view of a historical Jesus, which is that there isn't enough evidence to conclusively establish that he existed. It's certainly plausible, but beyond that, what's the big deal? Who freaking cares? Why is Ehrman so insistent that we must accept that some guy named Jesus actually existed?

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it's an irrelevant issue. All anyone, besides indulgent academics, really cares about is whether Jesus existed as he is described in the gospels. Since Ehrman has been one of the foremost advocates of exposing the gospels' utter lack of credibility, I don't really see why he'd get in a huff about a so-called "historical" Jesus. Who. Gives. A. Shit?

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