In anticipation of the imminent publication of Bart D. Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” (March 20, 2012) I’ve added to my website a book review (well, it’s really a chapter review) of his “Misquoting Jesus” (2005). It’s at
Ehrman’s style is pretty uniform across his two dozen or so books which seek to reach the educated layperson. In quest of this goal (which sells books) Ehrman dumbs down the argument so much that I argue he loses his compass–categories overlap and a dangerous imprecision takes over which permits that the most immodest claims of the tradition hold the floor. Ehrman happens to be a scholar who is good at detail and terrible at generalities. He needs to be called out. Mythicists need to show that the context of Ehrman’s thought is totally bogus.
At bottom Ehrman’s a defender of the tradition. He’ll lean on assumption, speculation, and illogic–the very antitheses of good historical method–when the chips are down and when it comes to placing his (sometimes carefully researched) specifics in context.
As far as I’m concerned Ehrman has sold out. He’s now primarily a seller of books. I’d be happy to be proven wrong, because he has/had all the equipment to be a fine historian. But the origins of Christianity are complex. One can simplify only so much before the argument becomes very wrong. And Ehrman is very wrong.