I appreciate these comments from Fr. Greg Jones at the Anglican Centrist, where he takes professor Bart Ehrman to task for something C.S. Lewis used to call “chronological snobbery,” as well as some cultural bias.  The sad thing about Ehrman is that his academic work is useful (we used some of his work on the New Testament in my history of Christianity class in college, and it was well presented and informative), but it is now being overshadowed by a series of sensationalist books that reproduce the same old schtick about there being contradictions in scripture, Jesus not being considered divine in the earliest Christian community (of course, one has to leave Paul out to demonstrate that, as well as disregard some pretty blatant stuff in the synoptic Gospels–John was not the only Gospel writer to view Jesus as divine, despite what Ehrman claims).
The thing about books like Ehrman’s Jesus Interupted is that they really only have an impact when one assumes that the default Christian position is a fundamentalism that would be challenged by Ehrman’s assertions and ignorant enough of biblical criticism to be left defenseless against his onslaught.  It also assumes a fundamentally modernist paradigm, which of course demonstrates that Ehrman merely rejected one overly rationalistic system (the fundamentalism with which he gre up) for a modernism that is, in many ways, self-absorbed and condescending in the way it looks at our forebearers.  Fr. Jones can elaborate on some of this:
Which gets to Ehrman’s entire problem: he continues to define the meaning of the phrase “understanding the Bible” in terms of the rationalistic, historical-critical, skeptical methods of the modern West — even though the Bible was not written, edited or even now largely read by persons who share that hermeneutic.
Ehrman shows his own flatlander bias when he writes, “scholars of the Bible have made significant progress in understanding the Bible over the past two hundred years, building on archeological discoveries, advances in our knowledge of the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages in which the books of Scripture were originally written, and deep and penetrating historical, literary, and textual analyses.”

Factually speaking, the recent discoveries made by scientists have not been of things never before known.  No, much of what has been done is to restore a degree of familiarity with the languages and contexts of the ancient world which — well — the ancients were totally familiar with by virtue of being alive then.  To put a plain point on it — the knowledge of Scripture that Paul exhibits, for example, when he wrote his own letters (which would become Scripture themselves) is of a degree that I seriously doubt whether Ehrman could even come close.  Paul, after all, is likely to have been versant in biblical Hebrew, as well as Aramaic, Greek and Latin.  As a trained bible scholar — a Pharisee — Paul probably had committed the Scriptures to memory to a large degree, as well as a large oral tradition, and he would have been exposed to manuscripts far more ‘original’ than any Ehrman has ever seen.

Anglican Centrist: Bart Ehrman’s New Book – Greg Jones Comments.

And just in case that wasn’t enough, you can always check out Steven Colbert’s interview with Ehrman below:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bart Ehrman
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