Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Debate: Craig Evans & Bart Ehrman 2012

On January 19 & 20, 2012, New Testament scholars Craig Evans and Bart Ehrman took part in two debate/dialogues on the topic: Does the New Testament present a reliable portrait of the Historical Jesus? Both videos are available on YouTube (night one and night two). The first night was at St. Mary’s University and the second night was at Acadia University. Audio of both debates can be downloaded using links below. Debates sponsored by ReligionSoup. (You may also want to check out their previous March 30th, 2010 debate on the topic: Does the New Testament Misquote Jesus?)

Evans & Ehrman - January 19 Debate MP3 (2hr 16min)
Evans & Ehrman - January 20 Debate MP3 (2hr)



Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting these! I listened to the one from 2010 awhile back and Evans was a bit disappointing. It'll be interesting to see how he does this time around.

Anonymous said...

I listened to the first debate listed in this posting. One thing I would love for Bart to do, is explain how he knows some of the things he claims to know, but does not explain, in this debate.

For Ehrman
Showmanship - B
Explanation - D

Anonymous said...

@Defenseanddeliverance - I wonder if his arguments are a bit more fleshed out in his books?

Debates are great to help get an overview of the rationale held by the various participants, but 2 hours (or in this case 4) is rarely enough to really lay out the full argument.

Anonymous said...


I am sure they are laid out more in his books, but he still does the same thing. He make claims of things he knows to be true, without providing necessary evidence to show how he knows that, if it is the only possibility, or why it is necessarily true.

Craig Evans provided explanation of his charges against the views he disagrees. Bart seems get loud, sarcastic, and make claims about those he disagrees and then makes broad-brush claims without any backup. You do have to defend your statements in a debate, that is a part of the exchange.

dgfisch said...

Bart Ehrman's assessment of the discrepencies in the raising of Jairus' daughter in Matthew and Mark seem to miss one point, which probably adequately resolves the contradiction there. In noting the synagogue leader's opening request in Matthew (dead girl) and in Mark (dying girl), it should be noted that each gospel writer devotes only so much space for the story. Matthew practices concision in telling the story in nine verses (Mt. 9: 18-26), while Mark is very detailed in his recounting over 23 verses (Mk. 5: 21-43). In each telling, the essential points of the story are presented, Jairus request; the incident of the woman seeking help from her issue of blood problem, first covertly, then openly when Jesus seeks the one in the crowd who touched His garment; entering the house to dismiss a crowd of noisy mourners who scorn Jesus' idea of the child merely sleeping; raising the girl to life. Matthew's decision to pass over this story briefly forces him to cut to the chase and note the girl whom Jesus treated was dead. This was the point of Matthew, to present a resurrection story in an area of his gospel where miracles seemed to be emphasized. Matthew can be concise in his tellings. This should be recognized by an expert in New Testament. After all, both Evans and Ehrman insist that we do not have the words of Jesus verbatim, as if tape recorded if I remember the analogy they discussed in dialogue. How much more the words of Jairus? Can't Ehrman recognize elements of personal writing style?

Prof. Ehrman's dismissal of fundamentalsts and conservative scholars in the same breath shows a tendency to allow strawman fallacies to dictate acceptance of differing opinions on a matter. Instead of all this, I suggest he be more open to explanations to discrepencies as the one above. He was civil with Evans, but was that because of Evans open-mindedness?

LittleGoose said...

I think Bart Ehrman can be very inconsistent, but I just heard this debate and I'm not going to lie I think Ehrman did a better job than Craig Evans. Ehrman was just a better debater this time. He did a good job of pressing Craig Evans on points that he knew Craig believed and then presenting them as being evidence against the reliability of the Gospel in portraying the historical Jesus. I only listened to the first debate though so. Can someone sum up the second one?

Anonymous said...

I attended the first debate and thought it was very well done (for both parties). I disagree with many of Erhman's conclusions but I thought the debate - especially the dialogue / conversational section - was a very thought provoking event.

I watched the first night on youtube and was surprised at how different both debates were. During the Acadia debate the issue of John was simply passed over (which I was disappointed about), but that's because it was already heavily discussed the night before at Saint Mary's.

During the second night, I think Dr. Evans did a better job at pointing out what the key semantic issues was. As mentioned, different issues were discussed. Thus, I'd suggest watching the second one altogether LittleGoose!

In short, I remember that they discussed the divine portrayal of Jesus (whether the synoptics do or not - very interesting discussion) and that during Evan's rebuttal period he pointed out that Ehrman's statement, "If the gospels were reliable we wouldn't need scholarship." was misleading. Evan's pointed out the issue of treating the gospels as ancient documents and not as modern texts and Eherman's continuous assertion that the gospels aren't reliable to us because we are modern and use modern standards to test ancient documents.

Anonymous said...

It's amazing how angry Ehrman sounds in this debate. I think he has a massvie chip on his shoulder because he learned that his KJV only upbringing was found to be untenable (and thus felt hurt/betrayed). It's astounding that Ehrman's teacher (the late Bruce Metzger, who would absolutely run cicrles around Ehrman), working with the same evidence, comes to evangelical conclusions about the Bible.
- N.T.P

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