Bart Ehrman assures us he read all the mythicist books himself — “very carefully”

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by Neil Godfrey

I asked Bart Ehrman if it were true that he did not read the books he reviewed in Did Jesus Exist? and this is his emphatic reply:

It is absolutely false! What would make him say such a thing? Where would he have even gotten this information? Is he wrongly speculating, or just lying? In any event, no, I read all of the books myself, very carefully. And marked them all up. Including his, of course.


–          B


Bart D. Ehrman

James A. Gray Professor

Department of Religious Studies

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Official Website: www.bartdehrman.com

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From: Neil Godfrey
Sent: Monday, April 16, 2012 10:45 PM
To: Ehrman, Bart D
Subject: CIA: The Bart Ehrman Blog Form Submission

To: Bart Ehrman

Neil Godfrey

Dear Dr Ehrman

The following rumour has been posted on my blog: “According to Robert M. Price, on his April 12 Bible Geek podcast, Ehrman didn’t read the Mythicist books. He just had some of his students read them and write summaries for him.”

I would like to know if you can assure me that this is not true. I will, of course, post your assurance on the blog.

Thank you.

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28 thoughts on “Bart Ehrman assures us he read all the mythicist books himself — “very carefully””

  1. I’m afraid you’ve added fuel to the fire here. Dr. Price did not say that Ehrman did not read the books–only that he (Price) had to suspect as much given how poorly Ehrman treated them in Did Jesus Exist. Now Ehrman probably has the impression that Price has been lying about him. Ah, well.

      1. Yes, as I said in a later comment, I did not listen to the one in question. I was replying based on what he had said several times in previous ones: that Ehrman’s treatment of these works is so off-base that it’s hard to imagine that he read the books. I’ve since gone back and listened to the parts listed below, and yep: he definitely claims Ehrman didn’t read it. My mistake.

        1. Also, I hope that my having put my full name (before you’d even replied, I’ll add) undercuts whatever you intended to imply by putting my stupid gravitar name in quotation marks. :

  2. GAH. I signed up for “Gravitar” and now it forced me to use that because I was using the same e-mail address as I was using to post as Jason Goertzen. :

  3. Bart’s reply raises more questions than it answers. If he really did read all the books — he is saying here that he did in fact read all of Doherty’s 800 page book — “very carefully” and “marking them all up”, then how would he account for the gross errors of simple fact that he made about what some of those books actually said?

    Why, for example, if he carefully read and marked up page 97 of Doherty’s “Jesus Neither God Nor Man” (which page he cites) did he build a sustained attack against Doherty for supposedly asserting that there was only a single ancient view of the universe? Even if he did read the singular “view” in Doherty’s first book, Ehrman has left himself without excuse given he insists he must have read “views” in Doherty’s second book.

    Also disturbing about Bart’s reply is his obvious quickness to jump to conclusions on mere heresay. His reply indicates that he believes Robert Price really did accuse him of not having read the books and he is prepared to retaliate with accusations or innuendo on the basis of that claim. I did not make any assumptions one way or the other about what Dr Price said. But the rumour has gained some traction as is evident on Dr McGrath’s Exploring Our Matrix blog’s comments. Ehrman would have been wiser to have issued a simple denial without any presumptuous slur or innuendo against Price.

    So we have clear evidence (much evidence as has been pointed out in previous posts here and in other blogs) that Ehrman did not read all the books carefully and a strident and quick insistence that he did read all of them very carefully.

    (I am still waiting for replies from Bart to my earlier emails asking him for citations and verifications of some of his statements in his book.)

  4. Why do you jump to the conclusion that all Ehrman has to go on is hearsay? According to Price’s podcast of the 16th, Ehrman responded to the claims Price made on the 12th. That at least raises for me the possibility that he had some information concerning the allegation prior to receiving your email.

    I agree however that there are many unanswered questions.

    1. Maybe this will help:
      I asked him about it yesterday

      Ehrman, Bart D


      bob wahler

      Message flagged
      Tuesday, April 17, 2012 6:56 AM

      Well, that’s a lie. Did he really say that? I wonder what led him to do so?

    1. I am now “VinnyJH57” rather than “VinnyJH” because I changed ISP’s and I couldn’t get Blogger or WordPress to send notices to my new email address.

  5. What confuses me most about this is that Price claims on the 16th that Ehrman had responded to the charges on the 12th (in such a way as to not deny them, but to deny the seriousness of them); but Ehrman’s recent response definitely makes it seem as though it was the first he was hearing about it.

    I have a lot of respect for both of these men; but I don’t think Dr. Price should have leveled this kind of accusation–especially on 3rd-hand hearsay. It’s sad to see the debate degrade into this level of mud-slinging.

    1. I am bothered both by the source that Price cited on the 12th and the lack of source on the 16th. If I had to guess, I would speculate that someone asked Ehrman an abstract question on the use of research assistants without specifically citing Price’s allegation of the 12th. Ehrman’s general defense of the practice got back to Price who erroneously interpreted it as an admission that Ehrman hadn’t read any of the mythicist books.

      1. Haha I edited that post and, re-reading it now I realize that in editing it I took out exactly what you said. I meant to say exactly that: it’s disappointing to see Price airing 3rd-hand hearsay in an accusation against another scholar. I can understand his frustration at how poorly Ehrman seemed to understand his argument (and that people keep bringing it up on his podcast, so he has to keep thinking about it, heh), but nothing is helped by essentially baseless accusation.

      2. Relying on assistants this way seems to be routine in Academia. I have run into it myself. Actually been asked to submit a review of my own book by a chair emeritus of a State university.

  6. I just don’t believe Ehrman in this case. The evidence is stacked against him. Ehrman’s own grad students are contradicting him as that’s where this is all coming from to begin with.

    “********** spoke with one of [Ehrman’s] grad assistants who told him [Ehrman] did not even read the Mythicist books but farmed them out to his grad students to read and report on!”

    I have Ehrman’s book and many of the books he criticizes too, so, I know for a fact that he accuses them of making stuff up when their source citations are right there for all to see. There is just no way in hell Ehrman read these books as Acharya S shows here:

    The phallic ‘Savior of the World’ hidden in the Vatican

  7. Price has identified his source as Steven Styles on Ehrman’s Facebook page. He hasn’t identified the grad student who gave the information of Styles.

    1. I agree. It’s especially unjustified to do so on the basis that someone claims to have heard it from someone else who was–or claimed to be!–one of Ehrman’s grad students. There are too many untested links in that chain. I, for one, believe Ehrman, but agree with Neil that it would almost be better for Ehrman if he hadn’t read them, given how little understanding of the materials is evidenced by what he ultimately wrote.

      1. Perhaps Ehrman read the books and also asked some of grad students to look at them as well, but one of the students gave the impression that Ehrman simply used the work of the grad students only? That seems an obvious possibility.

      2. I was actually hoping for the grad student hypothesis to be true, e.g., Ehrman assigned something to an assistant who had previously done good work on Forged and the ass’t dropped the ball but Ehrman didn’t spot it because he wasn’t as familiar with the arguments for mythicism.

  8. Even fabricated material may provide a true sense of the gist of what Jesus was about, however inauthentic it may be as far as the specific details are concerned. (Review of Dale Allison, Constructing Jesus)

    The Gospels are not true in their literal details but the Myth they present — like all myths — is an even deeper truth that the evangelists intended to portray.

    I don’t think we should be too worried about the specifics of the literal details here — that could lead us into being terribly wrong about what Ehrman wants us to understand.

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