Bart Ehrman on a historical Jesus

I'm normally a big fan of Bart Ehrman. His book Jesus, Interrupted is one of those books where, if you can read it and still call yourself a Christian, you're suffering from some serious denial.

Bart Ehrman is certain about one thing: Jesus really existed. He's confident that all the supernatural stuff that Christians believe is a bunch of hooey, and the comical state of the Biblical manuscripts he discusses in his aforementioned book goes a long way toward establishing that. Others are not so sure that Jesus is anything but a made-up figure. They're usually categorized, sometimes derisively, as "mythicists".

Bart Ehrman playing pretend basketball
So Ehrman penned an op ed for the Huffington Post entitled, "Did Jesus Exist?" in which he makes the case for a historical Jesus. Well, maybe not so much "makes the case" as "insists it's true without presenting any good evidence." I'm not going to bother addressing all his claims; Richard Carrier already published an op ed of his own ripping Ehrman's piece to shreds. Instead, I want to cut to the heart of the matter.

There are no secular accounts of Jesus. The only accounts we have – shoddy as they are – portray Jesus as something supernatural. It may be that there lived a Rabbi named Jesus (or something like it) who had some followers, stirred up some controversy, and died. That's a pretty unremarkable and perfectly plausible historical claim, even if there isn't any hard evidence that it's true.

But it's all beside the point. It doesn't freaking matter whether a "secular" Jesus existed. All that matters is whether Jesus existed as he is described in the Bible, which Bart Ehrman himself would be the first to tell you "no, he didn't."  Ehrman can argue for a "historical" Jesus until he's blue in the face, but even if he were right (which doesn't appear to be the case), he'd get a resounding golf clap.


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