Disunity And Diversity: The Biblical Theology Of Bart Ehrman -- By: Josh Chatraw

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 54:3 (Sep 2011)
Article: Disunity And Diversity: The Biblical Theology Of Bart Ehrman
Author: Josh Chatraw


Disunity And Diversity:
The Biblical Theology Of Bart Ehrman

Josh Chatraw*

* Josh Chatraw is a Ph.D. student at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 120 S. Wingate St., Wake Forest, NC 27587.

In Bart Ehrman’s most recent book, Jesus, Interrupted, the subtitle— Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don’t Know About Them)—could lead some readers to believe that Ehrman is going to uncover new (apparent) problems in the Bible that have been hidden from scholars and serious students of Scripture.1 These readers will be surprised to find that none of the information or arguments in this book is actually new, and Ehrman admits as much. He repeatedly emphasizes that for years scholars have known of, written about, and lectured on the material he presents. And, of course, he is right. The last two centuries in biblical studies have been characterized by skepticism concerning the unity of the theology found in the Bible. In recent years, the emphasis on viewing the Bible as a series of books that express divergent and irreconcilable theologies can be seen in the influential works of figures such as Walter Bauer, Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Käsemann, and James Dunn.2

Yet Ehrman differs from the aforementioned men in that he is not writing to his fellow scholars. He writes for a lay audience, and he does so with a charismatic and appealing style. Ehrman is disturbed that most people in the pews are unaware of what has been going on in the academy. In Jesus, Interrupted, he attempts to remedy this problem by enlightening the masses with his own brand of biblical scholarship. The problem is that Ehrman represents a segment of biblical scholarship which he often implies is the only legitimate brand of scholarship, and he rarely exposes lay readers to the best arguments of opposing views. Carefully crafted responses to Ehrman’s work are needed as he has ventured out of textual criticism, his primary area of expertise.3 The

present essay will respond to Ehrman’s approach and subsequent conclusions in the area of biblical theology as represented in Jesus, Interrupted.4

I. Authorship Issues

Pervasive skepticism of the NT characterizes Ehrman’s work, and much of this cynicism is bound up in distrust for the biblical authors themselves. He states:

And so we have an answer to our ultimate question of why these Gospels are so different from...

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