The youtuber who posted this video
said: “Watch this atheist get beat up by an agnostic on the historical Jesus. LOL it..”
The video is an interview with Bart Ehrman by the Infidel Guy. In general, I really like Bart Ehrman; but, he certainly flubbed this interview. I agree that the Infidel Guy did not know enough about the subject to call Ehrman on his flubs. I do not
completely disagree with Ehrman about the historical Jesus. There could have been a real person called Jesus. But, Ehrman is wrong to deny that it is not also possible and actually quite likely that Jesus was completely mythical. Here are just three things that Ehrman said that made me roll my eyes.
Ehrman: “I don’t think there are any serious historians who doubt that Jesus existed, there are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money.”
Few “serious” historians also doubt the existence of Zoroaster, Buddha, the Old Testament prophets, etc. Questioning the existence of these characters is a new trend in historical research because the modern history writing fashion began in the 19th century with “serious” historians who did not question the existence of Moses, Abraham, or God. The reason so few “serious” historians question the existence of ancient religious figures is because the modern history writing of the late 19th century and early 20th century was dominated by some very obtuse people. The more critical thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment were replaced in the 19th century by those inspired by the beginnings of archaeological research. The early forays of Europeans in West Asia, Egypt, and the Mediterranean turned up artifacts that were interpreted as evidence that Bible stories were true or at least symbolically true. Later 20th century historians were faced with a mountainous task of disproving the earlier history. “Facts” in history are established by consensus; so, eradicating a false “fact” means persuading the consensus to change its mind. But, just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true, even if those people are “serious” historians.
Ehrman’s second point begs the question: Do sensational books about the non-existence of Jesus make a lot of money? No. Bart Ehrman is making much more money with his book about the historical Jesus than authors who claim Jesus was a mythical character. Ehrman will probably sell more copies of his book than all mythicist books put together. Which movie made more money: “The God Who Wasn’t There” or “The Passion of Christ” flick? From a marketing perspective, Bart Ehrman made a smart choice to write about the historical Jesus rather than the mythical Jesus, because most people believe Jesus existed. Just because a lot of people believe something doesn’t make it true; but, it is easier to sell them a book that appeals to their beliefs.
Ehrman: “What hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed?”
Maybe Ehrman just had a brain fart and couldn’t think of a better example off the top of his head; but, the evidence that Julius Caesar existed is better than the evidence for Paul, who no one doubts existed because he wrote letters. Julius Caesar wrote two books that are still read to this day and some other books that were cited in ancient sources. Also, Julius Caesar was a political figure and Jesus was a religious figure, claimed to be a god. Mythical gods were the central objects of worship in all ancient cults; so, the likelihood of Jesus being a mythical character is much greater than a political figure, like Julius Caesar. Also, all the stories about Jesus life are mythical tales. Jesus never wrote anything. His words are in the form of speeches, presented within the mythical tales about him. Ancient authors regularly made up speeches for the characters in their stories; both for real people and for fictional characters. So, the existence of those speeches is not evidence that Jesus existed.
And, many of the “historical” figures who “serious” historians believe existed are probably also mythical characters. Many of the legends about ancient kings, queens, and royal children are mythical tales. Gilgamesh, Semiramis, and Attis, are three I can think of off the top of my head who are probably completely mythical royals. All of the characters in the Iliad
, and the Torah
are mythical figures. There is far more fiction than history in all ancient books, particularly religious books. The likelihood that the gospel stories about Jesus (a god) are 100% fiction is much higher than any possible kernels of historical fact. Just because a lot of people believe in Jesus does not make him real.
Ehrman claims that Paul knew Jesus’ relatives and said: “Why would he lie about it?”
There is a very good reason to believe Paul lied about knowing Jesus’ brother, James: Paul was crazy. Paul also believed he met Jesus on the road to Damascus. There is no reason why James could not have been as mythical as Jesus and the rest of Jesus’ family, like his mother (a character obviously based on a goddess) and his father, a god. Early Christianity was polytheistic. As I demonstrate in my book, all of the characters in the gospel of Mark
were based on mythical characters. Perhaps some of the characters were also real people; but, the story about them is pure myth.
I didn’t listen to the rest of the interview. I was too disappointed to hear Ehrman, who is probably the best in his field, make such silly statements to listen any further. If this is the best a “serious” historian can do, then our “serious” historians are pretty sad characters.