Some Atheists still claim Jesus never existed

The Atheist Claim (based on a Dr. Bart Ehrman quotation):

“In the entire first Christian century Jesus is not mentioned by a single Greek or Roman historian, religion scholar, politician, philosopher or poet. His name never occurs in a single inscription, and it is never found in a single piece of private correspondence. Zero! Zip references!” Dr. Bart Ehrman, Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

My Comment here (not a part of the Facebook discussion):

On this point, Dr. Bart Ehrman would be rather easy to refute:

(1) Why should it be expected that such a small group of Christian believers in the earliest years of Christianity would be noticed by Greek or Roman historians?

(2) Much of what Greek and Roman historians wrote has been lost. Many works we know were written have not survived to our time.

(3) Consider that Dr. Bart Ehrman argues from the silence of early historians; the argument from silence is a very weak position to hold.

(4) The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence!

(5) Josephus was a Jewish writer who lived at that time and he clearly mentions John the Baptist, James the brother of Jesus, and Pilate who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus.

(6) Tacitus in his writings mentions Christ in his Annals, and Pliny’s letter is well known.

(7) The 27 primary source First Century documents assembled in the New Testament mention Jesus  many times and have no reasonable basis upon which to question their historicity.

My Response (on Facebook) to the Opening Post:

Dr. Bart Ehrman has not thought this through very carefully when he makes such a claim.


Response to me by HJH:

he doesn’t have to “think” it through as you put it, he’s not a philosopher, he has fact on his side and is very well sourced.

My response to HJH:

Had he carefully thought this through, he would not have missed the obvious fact that Christianity started out small, and so would not have been particularly noticed by the Roman authorities who thought the Christians were merely a subset of the Jews.

HJH responded to me:

I’m pretty sure he’s aware of that fact. This is just one quote and it’s true, with your superior reading skills, I’m surprised you didn’t think more about context before asserting your own.

My response to HJH:

I have read Dr. Ehrman’s arguments over a good many years.

In short, he started out with full faith in the Bible, but when he learned there are variations in the Greek texts of extant manuscripts, it “threw him for a loop,” so to speak, and he never integrated what appeared to be an irrefutable disconnect between what he was taught about the divine inspiration of the Bible and the fact that we have no original autograph copies of any of the texts of the New Testament with his faith.

Now, he has written a good number of popular books which greatly overstate his arguments and evidence against the integrity and historicity of the New Testament text.

Dr. Ehrman overstates the case about the “400,000 manuscript variations” and makes much more of these than any sensible Bible scholar engaged in textual criticism–the work of determining the original text of the New Testament–would.

His mentor at Princeton University, Dr. Bruce Metzger, was never led to take such a radical position concerning the New Testament text.

Despite Dr. Ehrman’s widely known radical and sensational public stance, he is an acknowledged authority on the text of the New Testament and when he is writing to a scholarly audience he is not so blatantly radical.

MM responded to HJH:

he’s gone back on this statement as of late. When I posted it on his post he blocked me.

Comment by Duane Burgess:

Ehrman is an unbeliever, a false teacher, and has been soundly, biblically refuted.

The OP is another entire waste of time.


This entry was posted in Apologetics Issues--Agnosticism, Apologetics Issues--Atheism, Bible Historicity and Validity and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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