Across pages 12 and 13 of Did Jesus Exist? Bart Ehrman quotes the following passage from Albert Schweitzer and claims it is sometimes quoted by mythicists to suggest (falsely) that Schweitzer himself did not accept the historicity of Jesus. I have never read any mythicist work claiming Schweitzer did not believe in Jesus’ historicity, and none that I recall quoting these words from Schweitzer. If anyone does know of any likely source for Ehrman’s claim I’d be interested to hear it.
Here are the words he says mythicists “sometimes quote”:
There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence. This image has not been destroyed from without, it has fallen to pieces, cleft and disintegrated by the concrete historical problems which come to the surface one after the other.
Does anyone have any idea of any mythicist publication that even hints Schweitzer did not believe in a historical Jesus?
Looks like those theologian bible scholars are paving the way with their astonishingly progressive research tools and now even the scientific community owes them a debt in new advances in historical methodology. They have shown how historical research into biblical characters can even open up the way to diagnosing Moses’ speech difficulties and little tricks he used — by means of staff and song — to control them.
(I wonder if Dr McGrath will be embarrassed or proud.)
This is the third post in my series addressing Bart Ehrman’s rhetorical back-flips on his past writings and those of his scholarly peers in order to attack mythicism.
I quoted Ehrman in my earlier post, Ehrman explains: Doherty Could Be Right After All, insisting that Paul “was not principally dependent upon Plato”. No decent person would want to think that Ehrman was playing word games or simply being disingenuous here by specifying the name “Plato” and adding the qualifier “principally”. The context of his following sentence makes it abundantly clear that he is directing his readers to think that Paul was dependent upon Jewish traditions and scriptures in contradistinction to pagan philosophies.
Not even Paul was philosophically trained. To be sure, as a literate person he was far better educated than most Christians of his day. But he was no Plutarch. His worldview was not principally dependent on Plato. It was dependent on the Jewish traditions, as these were mediated through the Hebrew scriptures. (p. 255, Did Jesus Exist?)
But Ehrman is a well-read scholar so he knows very well that there is an abundant scholarly literature discussing the influence of ancient philosophy on the thinking of Paul. Is he turning his back on all this scholarship solely to attempt a punch at Doherty? Some of the literature addressing this that I have discussed in posts here: