Reply To: Lecture 22 – The New Testament Era – The Historicity of the life of Jesus

Jason Jewell

Squamousguy, before I reply to your specific comments, I’ll repeat what I noted in another thread some time ago. My summary of the Genesis and Exodus accounts,etc., in the lecture is just that: a summary of those accounts. I do not assert the historicity of any of the miraculous events in the lecture. I include them because familiarity with them is, in my opinion, important to cultural literacy. These stories, historic or not, have had a huge impact on Western civilization. If you get uncomfortable because I don’t include sufficient disclaimers if one kind or another (e.g., “Now of course none of this really happened”), that seems to be evidence of your own biases.

Now to your comments:

“So I meant that he [Ehrman] was willing to come to conclusions about the Bible and its contents regardless of standards/dogma/personal feeling, so long as he felt the evidence was sufficient (so I suppose, as I gathered, he was biased toward the most consistent and rational evidence).”

What is Ehrman’s standard of evidence? What does it mean to be “consistent and rational”? If you (or he) define these terms in such a way that they rule out in advance any possibility of revelation or some other religious component, and then you say that “consistent and rational” evidence (according to your definition) is the only allowable means of getting at some truth, this is evidence of a bias. It may or may not be true, but it is undeniably a bias.

Likewise if you define “liberty” as absolute individual autonomy, then of course Christianity does not support “liberty.” But this is not what “liberty” has meant to the vast majority of thinkers throughout the history of the West.

For every rhetorical question you ask of Christians, there is a comparable one that can be asked of empiricists/rationalists/secularists. These folks have accepted (on faith) a package of ideas that limit their thinking in certain directions. For example, take your statement “We do not see any supernatural occurrences today.” Really? Can you prove this? Do you have data for every event that has occurred in human experience in the last, say, ten years? If not, how can you make such an unsubstantiated statement? Is that “consistent and rational”?

I do not wish to bog the forum down in an extended discussion of epistemology, or anything not directly related to the content of the lecture series. I only wish to point out that the insistence on a “secular” presentation of Hebrew or Church history (by which, I assume, you mean one in which the truth of the stories in the Bible is explicitly denied) is just as biased as an insistence on a “Christian” presentation of such history.