Here’s the latest person to gain publicity in calling the Bible a “forgery” and doing all he can to sell his new book “Jesus, interrupted.” The CNN article link available above provides a pretty good story about what has been going with another skeptic who is appealing to agnostics and atheists. William Willimon’s assessment is a good one, in that he indicates that what Bart Ehrman is saying is not new. There have always been those who have questioned the validity of the Scriptures and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Ehrman shouldn’t act like he’s discovered something that no one else had heard about. And we ought to tone down the drama related to his claims as well. Nothing new here.
It is healthy to read and learn as much as possible about one’s faith. Spiritual formation is one subject that our church has been dealing with lately, and part of that growth has to do honest inquiry and discussion. Ehrman’s book might be worth reading for that purpose, but only with the realization that there are other works that offer contradictory findings regarding the inspiration and reliability of the Old and New Testaments. The Bible has been around a very long time and withstood scrutiny for centuries, so I’m not pacing the floor worried about this latest challenge.
The one point I would make is that it is a mistake to assume Ehrman is correct simply because he “debunks” the Bible as fake and reduces its relevance to a good history book. It seems like there is already a lot of skepticism toward the Christian faith and the church in general, so I guess it is a popular band wagon to get on these days. And it doesn’t mean that you are smarter or more enlightened to dispute the claims of the Bible. There are plenty of bright scholars and church leaders who have upheld the authority and inspiration of the Scriptures while offering honest scrutiny about its content.
There is really “nothing new under the sun” and Ehrman is the latest in a long line of scholars who have found problems with the Bible. I’ll keep my ears open for other developments related to his work, and if the library has it I may check it out. I don’t think it needs to be part of my own personal library though.