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Bart Ehrman: Without Peer… Review

Think Christianly: Bart Ehrman: Without Peer… Review

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Bart Ehrman: Without Peer… Review

Peer review is where other scholars who know as much as you do about a given topic offer critique and generally serve as a gatekeeper process to make sure information is reliable and solidly researched. Unfortunately, when it comes to the New Testament, Bart bypasses that important step and makes everyone think the sky is falling when it is not. His peer, Dr. Dan Wallace, weighs in on this...

Bart Ehrman has become the new media darling of the 21stcentury. He’s been on seemingly every major media outlet...(more)

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8 Comments:

Blogger Frank Dracman said...

So this writer thinks that Ehrman bypassed the "peer review" process when he wrote this book?

Hogwash. This book was not meant for peer review. It was written as a money maker for public consumption.

The blogger sounds like he is jealous of the success of the book more than anything else.

It reminds me of the industry built around the premise in Dan Brown's book "The DaVinci Code." It was a fiction novel. FICTION. Some of it based on reality, some was manufactured. Some history was re-written to fit with the story.

I laughed as the pastor at my church dissected this FICTION book piece by piece as if it were historical fact.

I believe Ehrman's book was was written as a response to the ridiculous things stated in such wildly successful books as "The Case for Christ" which asserts that all the gospels are 100% accurate because they are "absolutely proven" to be 100% accurate "eye witness" accounts that would be accept in any court of law.

We don't' even know who wrote the gospels, when they were written and they disagree with each other on some very critical points yet they are held out to be 100% truth.

The proper response to Ehrman's book is to pick out some parts and dissect them point-by-point. Your blogger doesn't even make an attempt. He just dismisses the whole thing because it was not "peer reviewed" as if that were a requirement for writing a book.

June 10, 2009 at 8:36 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Actually, they have debated on this very topic at a major weekend conference, belong to all the same scholarly societies, and know each other fairly well. He responded in more length in this paper to Misquoting Jesus:

http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=4000

The point about peer review is that Bart knows he would never get away with the wild (and minority) inferences he makes in Jesus Interupted etc. by people in his field (liberal, moderate, or conservative). Dan is his peer and responds (there are technical journal articles if interested).

I have studied textual criticism and taken 2 and 1/2 years of NT Greek and we covered and addressed all of the "textual issues" that Ehrman raises. 99.9% of the general public have not (Based on statistics, I am assuming you have not?). This doesn't make me better than anyone else to be sure--goodness knows I am ignorant of a lot of things! I like to say that we are all ignorant...just in different areas. :)

I am all for free inquiry; let the reader decide. But I also think you dismiss the Case for Christ a little to quickly.Bart's teacher and mentor, the eminent Princeton textual critic Bruce Metzger, is interviewed on the reliability of the NT text at length and had more confidence in it after a lifetime of study than when he first started.

You mentioned your pastor teaching about the Da Vinci Code earlier...do you still attend church?

June 10, 2009 at 10:41 AM  
OpenID mortap said...

Dan Brown claimed or led on that the DaVinci Code was based on facts. And who cares if it is fictional, it was still a good opportunity to educate the public a bit about Christian history.

There are lots of responses that 'debunk' Ehrman. I don't think the point of this post was to attempt to dissect his work. I think the point was that you can't trust as academic everything that has the appearance of being academic.

June 10, 2009 at 10:47 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Well said.

June 10, 2009 at 10:56 AM  
Blogger Frank Dracman said...

"I am all for free inquiry; let the reader decide. But I also think you dismiss the Case for Christ a little to quickly."

Jonathan,

Any book that asserts with near-100% certainty that the bible is an "eye witness" account of the events portrayed is simply out of touch with 1700 years or critical thinking about the subject.

There are many evidence-supported hypothesis about who wrote the bible when. I'm sure I don't have to inform your about the "Q" hypothesis (which is my personal favorite) but others are compelling.

The end results is always this: "Believing" the NT to be "gospel truth" is a matter of FAITH. Asserting that it is 100%, court admissible, eye witness testimony is simply ludicrous.

June 11, 2009 at 11:19 AM  
Blogger Frank Dracman said...

"I think the point was that you can't trust as academic everything that has the appearance of being academic."

We do a very poor job of educating the public in this regard. Erdhman's book is an interesting counter to the equally-fallible books asserting themselves to be 100%-truthful-and-if-you-don't-believe-it-you-will-go-to-hell.

The blogger's point (that he made over and over) was that this book was not peer reviewed so, as such, it can safely be ignored.

I notice that Jonathan is quite willing to accept everything in the "Case for Christ" even though it "fails" the same peer-review litmus test.

June 11, 2009 at 11:33 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Morrow said...

Hello Frank, I think a careful reading of Strobel's Case for Christ or the Case for the Real Jesus will show that he does not reflect the sentiment that:

"Erdhman's book is an interesting counter to the equally-fallible books asserting themselves to be 100%-truthful-and-if-you-don't-believe-it-you-will-go-to-hell." That is simply a caricature of his approach. His book is not the end all be all, but is very helpful.

Strobel puts forth evidence by interviewing well credentialed scholars and lets people decide.

RE: "I notice that Jonathan is quite willing to accept everything in the "Case for Christ" even though it "fails" the same peer-review litmus test."

Actually, I have read the original works and the scholars themselves which are peer reviewed, so I am not guilty of "blind acceptance."

But, if you read Strobel, he at least presents the counter arguments to the Christian position...the same cannot be said for Bart Ehrman's work unfortunately. It is full of straw man arguments. Moreover, he fails to engage contemporary Jewish backgrounds scholarship (2nd temple Judaism).

I think we would all do better to use the principle of charity when we read people we disagree with; it help us advance the conversation.

June 16, 2009 at 10:23 PM  
Blogger mahoney said...

Frank

You mentioned that to believe in the NT as "gospel truth" is a matter of FAITH. I am curious as to what you mean by this.

Are you saying that we can gain NO knowledge what so ever from the NT? Is faith completely divorced from knowledge. If this is your view of biblical faith then I don't think I would be alone is saying that you are mistaken.

While it is true that many Christians are anti-intellctual in many forms and fashions, it would be unwise and intellectualy dishonest to completely discount the NT as only a faith book completely divorced from knowledge.

Even the most liberal NT scholars will say that we can gain knowledge from the NT, the difference is what we do with this knowledge and how we are to interpet it.

Let us not buy into the rhetoric that faith is equivalent to believing in Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy.

June 18, 2009 at 2:37 PM  

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