In yet another stunning example of how Ehrman fails to grasp the arguments of his opponents, he states:
“Mythicists are quite angry at what I’ve said and are attacking me mercilessly on the Internet,” he said. “They think I’m a terrible scholar and have no idea what I’m talking about.”
While certainly there are examples of mythicists being utterly merciless with personal attacks. After all, I have a whole thread dedicated to me, started by none other than Acharya S fans who hate that I don’t find much of what she says useful or interesting or even remotely academic–some of that these sorts say about me borders on libel, but I think its all pretty amusing. Clearly some people who really, really (really) like Acharya S can’t grasp why I’m able to engage with other scholars and publish academically while their
cult leader favorite author cannot.
In all honesty, however, let’s face facts: Ehrman is a scholar of textual criticism. Writing on the historical Jesus is what he writes about to make money (and by his own criteria, perhaps he shouldn’t be publishing on it?). So should we really be surprised that he can’t even cite Pliny correctly? And should he really be surprised that others are calling him out on his mistakes? Does he now think he is perfect?
But let me be clear; Ehrman is a scholar, he knows what he is talking about–he made a few mistakes, so be it. He should not be dismissed wholesale because of it and certainly no one should be suggesting he is somehow an incompetent New Testament scholar. It is one thing to suggest that a scholar has written a bad book, but it is quite another to suggest that they are incapable of dealing with the subject matter.
This is why I am wholly unimpressed by the (lack of) dialogue on both sides at the moment. Everyone just seems content to mud-sling instead of engaging the important issues. Instead of engaging mythicist arguments, certain historicists are content to just pretend as if they never made any and lump all mythicists into the same propagandist label categorically making any individually nuanced, credible arguments practically obsolete (as Ehrman does above). And certain mythicists would rather use crappily-researched arguments about the cosmos (aka: astrotheology) or about some parallelism that is incredibly fictional.
Frankly, I’m developing a case of ‘historical Jesus fatigue’. The arguments are just getting a bit outlandish for me. When scholars start to suggest that because a narrative is fiction, that makes it more historical, I think it is safe to say that everyone has gone completely mad. Everyone is missing the point. No one is listening to anyone else. And the well of the figure of Jesus has just overflowed with the filth of the septic system that backed up from the 1990’s.
James Crossley, please save us from this mess!