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November 15, 2011

Comments

I think that Wallace is right on the mark. And I wouldn't be surprised if Ehrman, at least in private, agreed with him. Also, Wallace makes a case that Ehrman only applies such radical skepticism to this area of debate. It seems strange that a reputable scholar would set such an impossible standard for one ancient literary artifact but purposefully fail to apply it to any other ancient literary artifacts.

But Ehrman's radical skepticism is not the main problem. The problem is that Ehrman, through his books, effectively invites others to share his radical skepticism in a persuasive and compelling way. Ehrman is much like the huckster at the Fair who has enticingly packaged his questionable goods. I think he knows his arguments are not compelling or convincing to most scholars… but his target is a more gullible and often, understandably, more naive general public. And here Ehrman hits his mark; unfortunately Wallace may have presumed to much when he hopes that rational people will avoid radical skepticism… or maybe ideology sometimes trumps rationality. This circumstance only highlights how important ministries like Stand to Reason are in our culture.

I'm afraid that JustChatting has hit it on the head. "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture", one of Ehrman's earliest works, is measured, scholarly, and frankly non-controversial in many of its ultimate conclusions: yes, there are parts of the NT which were likely edited (or "tampered with" if you prefer), but almost all of it is, in fact trustworthy.
This does not sell books, however, and is too nuanced a position upon which to build populist skepticism. "Forged" is much more dramatic title than "Anonymous by Today's Standards with Good Textual Attestation to Authorship." As anti-Christian apologists go, Ehrman makes a good textual critic; he's in over his head when it comes to actually supporting his skepticism with argument.

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