Darrell Bock reviews Bart Ehrman’s book Jesus, Interrupted. I especially liked this paragraph, which captures very well my own concern about what I’ve read by Ehrman:



I think what is most bothersome in this book is the way it sets up discussions. It pursues a topic for several pages, often noting in one or two quick and embedded sentences that the point is not as devastating as the impression given by the rhetoric of the whole section. Such qualification involves a quick almost aside that qualifies things so the author has cover. But it becomes a faint cry in light of the more skeptical thrust of the whole work. The result is to launch a discussion in a direction that implies more than the evidence really gives, leaving a greater impression about what is said than the author claims in the qualification. More than that, by excluding other key factors, the discussion leaves the impression of making a point clear that actually is not as cut and dried as the presentation suggests.

It does strike me as a rhetorically-successful but intellectually-illegitimate methodology. It even seems a little intellectually dishonest, because it shows that he does know that his point doesn’t show as much as he’s using it to show, but he goes ahead and emphasizes it well beyond its significance in order to maximize the effect among those whose trust in the text might therefore be undermined.
That so exactly fits what Ehrman does in Misquoting Jesus, which I’ve read in its entirety, and his appearances on shows like The Colbert Report and online interviews I’ve read seem to confirm the general strategy.

[cross-posted at Parableman]

Articles by Jeremy Pierce

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