Apparently some folks who don’t agree with Professor Bart Ehrman, especially in his popularizing mode, have decided to do something about it. There’s a new web site, “The Ehrman Project,” with numerous short videos (and more to come, I’ms sure) responding to some of Bart’s claims about Scripture and evil, in particular. Among the contributors so far are Ben Witherington (NT, Asbury), Darrell Bock (NT, Dallas), and Alvin Plantinga (philosophy, Notre Dame). Ironically, the spokesperson for and apparent coordinator of the site, Miles O’Neill, is an employee at UNC Chapel Hill, where Bart works. [Update: According to a comment below, he actually is a staff member with Campus Crusade for Christ at UNC.] In his welcome video Mr. O’Neill states that the site is not an attack on Bart but a set of serious responses from respected scholars who differ.
As I have often told my students, Bart Ehrman and I go back a very long way, back to Princeton Seminary days: friends, neighbors, classmates, teaching fellows together for Bruce Metzger, delivering the New York Times together before classes to feed our families, watching our kids play together, teaching Greek together, etc. We remain friends, though we are no longer close.
As the welcome video states, Bart is smart, witty, and a great communicator. He is an excellent scholar, and has been for many years. I remember his morning quiet times, at 5 or 6 a.m., which consisted of reading the Bible in Greek and Hebrew. I also remember him as a pastor of a Baptist church for a while. I remember conversations about suffering, especially about the killing fields of SE Asia. Bart’s concerns are legitimate.
Bart is a fine NT scholar who knows his material like few others. Bart is a first-class textual critic. I have often thought, however, on some topics, that Bart exaggerates some issues and sometimes makes mountains out of molehills. Bart is not a philosopher or theologian, however, and his legitimate concerns about suffering probably should be addressed in public by someone who is.
Bart is also something of an iconoclast, to say the least. Iconoclasts have a legitimate function, but they also have a responsibility, and need to be held accountable for their words and deeds. I don’t know whether or not this site will encourage some of that, or whether it will itself be too reactionary. We will see. I have not yet viewed the videos, but some will certainly be better than others.
Bart and I come from somewhat similar backgrounds. We have similar Princeton educations–almost identical, in fact. Over time, we have chosen very different ways of understanding and teaching the Bible. I continue to hope that all who teach the Bible and explore the Christian faith publicly will do so in a way that edifies others. I also look forward to seeing what becomes of “The Ehrman Project.” I’m sure Bart does, too! He will not ignore it, I assume.
[P.S. To Bart--who would have thunk it would come to this?!]