Bart Ehrman vs Craig Evans on "Does the New Testament Misquote Jesus?"

Watch it below:


Adrian said...

I put the video on in the background while I did some chores. It's interesting to hear Ehrman as always and this was my first time listening to Evans. I was a little surprised by Evans - he would adopt a falsetto, whiny tone in his answers about midway through which was really off-putting. Was he trying to mock Ehrman and critics or is this just how he talks?

Anyway, same comment about all verbal debates - the theist seems slippery and evasive and I want more details. The latter is a problem with all debates, the former is the curse of theology.

Unknown said...

This was an interesting...I don't want to call it debate, because it clearly was not that.

On the one hand, the format allowed each speaker to expound on a specific question at length. On the other hand, there was really very little engagement between the two. They were simply talking past each other.

I do think Evans deserves more blame for this though; Ehrman posed several very specific questions of him which he completely ignored. And then Ehrman would repeat the question and Evans would ignore it again.

I felt like this was a clean winner for Ehrman.

DM said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

DM... what? Could you take it down a notch and tell us your disagreement in plain english, step by step? Because all I see is rambling.

Explain what you mean by "paper monsters".

Explain what you mean by "They lost the war" What war did atheists loose?

What TV are you going to smash?

Who became enemies of what people?

When you ask, "Do you have anything to say, you stupid little f*cker" who are you asking? PZ Myers? Michael Shermer? Hemant Mehta? All of them?

Also, why do you think we believe in nothing? I mean, that topic has been gone over so much by atheists, that I can't imagine you haven't heard. So I suppose you're just pretending to be clueless?

Also... you're more than welcome to believe in whatever you want. Again, when did anyone tell you you couldn't? I don't know how you could have even gotten that impression unless, once again, you're pretending to be clueless.

Help us out.

Anonymous said...

DM cannot be reasoned with. I think he's just mentally unstable. Please don't feed this troll.

Chris Porter said...

While I was watching this video I noticed the people in the audience applauding to Evans responses.
This is a perfectly clear example of how people become brainwashed by religion. Ehrman gave complete and actual discrepancies in the synoptic gospels. In other words logic,common sense, and perfectly clear examples do not play a part in these peoples minds. I have observed this to be absolutely amazing with our society and I have created a website that addresses this issue at

Harry H. McCall said...

It is apparent that both Ehrman and Craig had their talks prewritten out before the debate, but Craig is one track: He refused to engage Ehrman in the debate, but just apologetically lectured both Ehrman and the audience (just like the two evangelical missionaries I had lunch with last week).

As I told these Bob Jones Missionaries last week: "You have more faith in Jesus that all the twelve Apostles who were taught by Jesus himself who faded off into history after the crucifixion only to reappear in apocryphal stories."

Even Peter, one of Jesus’ three inter-core and favorites, left us NO eyewitness account in Gospel form, but only a dubious epistle (1 Peter) that fails to deal with the life of Jesus, instead it only deals with theology. (I would not assign 2 Peter to Peter becasue of internal problems.)

As far as this debate goes, I would sum it up as follows: Logic (Ehrman) vs. Dogma (Craig).

While Ehrman addressed the specific problems of the Gospels, Craig danced around keeping the audience out in left field without a scholarly glove on!

In short, Christianity is a five billion dollar a year industry that employs about 100,000 paid people (both full and part time). This institution will not go down without a fight.

Finally: Faith + Religion will NEVER equal truth.

Anonymous said...

In Craig Evans's final statement he told fundamentalists that a high view of Scripture could not be maintained. I thought he couched his words carefully but astute people will see him dancing around the real issues.

admin said...

That wasn't a debate. That was two guys taking turns lecturing. Still, I quite enjoyed it.

Harry H. McCall said...

As a final note to this “debate’, I would say that 90% of the facts that WL Craig claims to vindicate the truth of the Gospels can just as well vindicate the truth of the Apocryphal and Pseudopigraphia works of both the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Apart of textual attestations as found in Biblical textual studies, most of what Dr. Craig claims as proof that the Gospels were not made up because they reflect the actual times and environment from which they were written is also argued by the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) at Brigham Young University as proof that the Golden Plates (translated by Joseph Smith) are truth proving that ancient Jews came to America in 600BC (latter known as the Lamanites and Nephites).

Such claims even convinced the late famous Semitic Scholar, C.H Gordon, that a slab of rock found near Bat Creek in Tennessee (which had what some called plow scratches on it) was an ancient Semitic script.

I had called Professor Gordon (shortly before his death in 2001) and he assured me there was no doubt the Bat Creek Inscription was written in Paleo-Hebrew, but he decline to say just how much of the Book of Mormon was true.

The textual truth of the Bible is a two edged sword for conservative Christianity: One side of the apologetic sword is swung at anyone who questions the verbal-plenary truth of the Bible; while the other edge of this apologetic sword is aimed at fellow believers in Jesus over which Christian or Christian sect is or is not a heretic!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Ehrman delivers a bunch of pieces of an argument as if it's one argument.

His premise that all historical narratives have errors, if it is true, one has to ask errors to what degree? That's the question.

Like in the part where he talks about 1 John and the trinity; Dr. Evans brought his radical assertion right back into focus and correctly stated, if that's an insertion, it was inserted to make the text line up with what was obviously taught and already in other texts that existed...

In this talk, as I didn't think it was a debate either, I saw another aspect of Ehrman's complaint and criticism, but he and critics like you "think" the criticisms mean more and are more valuable than they are...Evans didn't jump on them because he knew what I know, they aren't that much of a problem.

Each part of the NT or bible should be read for what it is. Let it tell the story that it does without trying to make it say other things that you think it should. Ehrman seems to have expected to find a harmonized gospel and was disappointed, therefore the variants means so much to him. In reality the core facts and those things essential to being and Christian and Christian practice are NOT in dispute.

Ehrman, as in his book, renders the argument that Jesus has been misquoted and confirms that we don't have what he originally said ...Then how do we know he's been misquoted? Simply because he "thinks" the copies are messed up? Yea's a silly argument them and it's still silly when he takes over 45 minutes in a talk to explain himself.

Much of that takes the power away from ehrman's argument and I applaud Dr. Evans for not following Ehrman down his "rabbit-trail" of error, half truth and illusion...He's has enough mistreatment of scripture in his 23 books while Evans I'm sure has outlined each of Ehrmans complaints at least once or twice in some of his 60 books...

What I can't understand is how Ehrman can come to radically different conclusion than Metzger when Metzger was the foremost in his field? How was it that studying the same material that Ehrman could say, I lost my faith while Metzger could say, my faith is affirmed even the more...i know how that is, SOMEBODY is telling a lie.

Harry H. McCall said...

Harvey, have you read Bruce Metzger’s autobiography, Reminiscences of an Octogenarian? Nowhere in this personal life story does Metzger ever discuss his spiritual life, or for that matter, even claim to be a Christian!

I would challenge you or some other person to give me the reference that Craig closes with where Bruce Metzger made those statements about basing his faith on the text of the Gospels / New Testament.

Adrian said...

Harry - WL Craig was not involved, it was Craig Evans.

admin said...

"Ehrman, as in his book, renders the argument that Jesus has been misquoted and confirms that we don't have what he originally said ...Then how do we know he's been misquoted?"

If contradictory statements are attributed to him, then some of his statements must be misquotes.

On another note:

The Resurrection: What is the Evidence?

Harry H. McCall said...


Thanks for the heads up. My mistake.

It’s hard to believe that Craig Evans got his MA and PhD from a school where James M Robinson, Burton Mack, Dennis MacDonald and John Cobb taught; all of whom would strongly agree with Bart Ehrman!

Apparently he didn’t learn much while he was there.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...


You said:"If contradictory statements are attributed to him, then some of his statements must be misquotes."

That's the problem, contradictory statements aren't attributed to Jesus words, the only "contradictions" that Ehrman points out are situational statements surrounding what Jesus said or did.

Look he points out a few situations early in his talk. 1 Genealogies of Mt. and Lk. (stating discrepancies) 2. When was Jesus recognized as God? John 1 and Mk. 8 3. Jairus's daughter (when she was dead) 4. When did Jesus die before or after Passover 5. How may women at the tomb, when was the stone rolled away and who did they see.6 Then he can't seem to find any illusion to Jesus as God in any Gospel other than John. (which I wouldn't admit my illiteracy in that area if I claimed I was a professor)

All of these are situational and have nothing to do with what Jesus said...

Now he uses these things which are easily reconcilable and understandable to build a case that what Jesus was recorded to have said was also faulted because the writers "adapted" what Jesus said to the account...Now look at that for a minute. If you lay out all of what Jesus said in the gospels you'll get less than a day's worth of talking. In 3 years he certainly said more than a day's wort of talk...we all agree on this.

So what do we see right off? The gospels did not provide us with a verbatim account of all things actions etc of Jesus...they do tell us, as Craig says, what we need to know, what Jesus said that was applicable to the lessons and essence of what Jesus said and at times specifically and word for word of what he said and taught...We see these sort of things in all gospel accounts.

Having a tape recorded verbatim account is not only necessary but is not required to understand what happened, piece it together and be reasonably certain about what was said or taught. We don't have that sort of thing in ANY historical account about anything in history that is not what's the problem? the problem is a radical requirement of the text to say and do more than it was intended to do.

As I said, Ehrman renders NO statement where Jesus was misquoted. Never has, doesn't do it in this debate or any book and never will. It gets atheist money he has learned how to sell to a ripe target audience who'll gladly pay for anything that calls Jesus or the bible into doubt.

Good job Bart!

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...
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District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Craig also destroys Ehrman's assumption that Jesus words were invented by the gospel writers by explaining Paul's teaching distinguishing the difference between what he said what Jesus taught.

If the early church invented what Jesus said we would have accounts that addressed every situation that Paul wrote about and every situation that came up in the NT church...we don't see that...Example, certainly if the church revised the gospels we would see a Jesus that spoke against homosexuality now wouldn't we??? We would see a Jesus that spoke of the order of the church, women in ministry etc...But Jesus doesn't mention a word regarding these issues in any of the 4 accounts...Why is that mr or ms. critic???

Things like this make the revised gospel account thesis very weak. It also makes the change thesis very weak.

Harry H. McCall said...


Jesus is NOT about salvation either. I know of no ironically so-called “Gospel Tract” that uses the words of Jesus telling people how to get “Saved”. You simply can’t do it!

Secondary, all the twelve Apostles (who were taught by Jesus himself) fade off into history after the crucifixion only to reappear in apocryphal stories because later Christians just could not accept the fact that men (and women) who talked, ate, lived and followed Jesus for 1 to 3 years left nothing (other than Peter).

So, Harvey, why didn’t Peter or any of the Apostles write a Gospel? Why didn’t an Apostle start off by stating: This is an account of the wonderful life and work of my Lord Jesus?

Facts prove over and over again, that since all Gospel Tracts are based on Paul’s soteriology meaning Christian need to have faith in Paul and not Jesus.

Face it Harvey, Paul (via his letters) “SAVED” Jesus himself from obscurity and did what none of the Apostles could do: Invent Christianity!

admin said...


I'm not a Biblical scholar and not in a position to argue Ehrman's point. I've also never heard of him before I stumbled on this blog post, so he's received no money from me.

However, I find it quite damning that the Bible makes historically and empirically testable claims that turn out to have zero corroborating evidence. As an example of a historically testable claim, consider when the dead were raised from the grave, an event which surely would have been noticed and noted by many people of the time, yet it's never mentioned by non-Christian sources.

Ehrman catalogs a litany of discrepancies in the Gospels. This should lower our confidence in the reliability of any direct quotes (see Bayes theory). But the direct quotes are irrelevant if the entire story seems fantastical, improbable, unrealiable, and contrived.

BTW, as an example of an empirically testable claim, consider the exodus through the Sinai. If we take the Biblical account at face value, between 600,000 and 2 million people traveled through the Sinai for 40 years. Israeli archaeologists have been looking for evidence of this migration for decades now. They've found neolithic camp sites where perhaps 40 people lived. They've found Roman outputs where 200 people lived. Yet they haven't found a shred of evidence for a large Semitic population living in or moving through the Sinai, and such a mass migration should have left overwhelming, indisputable evidence.

Once again, falsifying evidence lowers our confidence in the proposition. The Exodus story, along with the character of Moses, is probably a myth.

Human perception and cognition are imperfect, and the superstitions of the world -- whether they are aliens, ghosts, bigfoot, angels, or gods -- are better explained as failures of human perception and cognition than as real things and events .

So when confronted with extraordinary stories about resurrections from the dead, I remain skeptical until extraordinary evidence is presented. That evidence is severely lacking in the case of Christ. As such, I feel rationally justified in rejecting Christianity (tentatively, always).

GearHedEd said...

Harvey said,

"...He's has enough mistreatment of scripture in his 23 books while Evans I'm sure has outlined each of Ehrmans complaints at least once or twice in some of his 60 books..."

Prolific does NOT equal TRUE.

Just saying...

GearHedEd said...

Harvey said,

"...If the early church invented what Jesus said we would have accounts that addressed every situation that Paul wrote about and every situation that came up in the NT church...we don't see that..."

The early church, while not 'invented' by Paul, WAS beaten into some form of orthodoxy by Paul, and his epistles all predate the Gospel accounts.

It should then come as no surprise that the three synoptic gospels agree with each other, having relied on the conjectured lost "Q" document, and that they don't follow that closely upon Paul's epistles.

Harry H. McCall said...

While Harvey loves to argue and debate about the truth of the Biblical past (Which Christians also love to white wash with faith); in a case noted several years ago here on DC (Oregon vs. Beagley), sincere faith and belief in the New Testament is out right dangerous!

This from the news service:

Jeffrey, Marci Beagley Found Guilty in Oregon City Faith-healing Trial

OREGON CITY -- A Clackamas County jury sent a clear signal Tuesday that parents who rely solely on faith healing to treat their children face prison if a child dies.

Jeffrey and Marci Beagley were found guilty Tuesday of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 16-year-old son, Neil. The boy died in June 2008 of complications from an undiagnosed congenital urinary blockage after his parents attempted to heal him with prayer, anointing with oil and laying on of hands.

They are the first members of Oregon City's Followers of Christ church convicted of homicide in the congregation's long history of children dying from from treatable medical conditions.

"This is a signal to the religious community that they should be on notice that their activities will be scrutinized," said Steven K. Green, director of Willamette University's Center for Religion and Democracy. Other prosecutors may be emboldened to take similar cases to court, the law professor said.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...


You said:"Ehrman catalogs a litany of discrepancies in the Gospels. This should lower our confidence in the reliability of any direct quotes (see Bayes theory)."

What Ehrman does is deceive with the text...look if all accounts were exactly the same what would you say??? Be honest?

Let the accounts say what they say. Consider each on it's own. Now, does any one account controvert the other...NO. the closest thing you have to that is the day of Jesus crucifixion. That takes a study, but it's reconcilable and understood.

Ehrman takes it to another level though. He says the temptation can't be believed because they're in different order. Why not? Does one say that there was no temptation? Does one say that there was a different or a fourth type of temptation? The declaration is still there that there are 3 temptations in both accounts. What is lost? Absolutely Nothing.

The empty tomb...No matter who was there or who was talked to...was the body already gone in every case? YES. Did the women know this? Yes. In accounts other than Mark's, did the disciples know and find out? YES. What was lost? Absolutely Nothing.

The miracle of Jesus and Jairus the recorded cases was she dead when Jesus arrived? YES. What was lost if she died before or after the messenger? Absolutely nothing.

I mean I could go on and on with his shady, half baked, renderings of what he considers are "hidden contradictions" that almost anyone knows who studies scripture and that attends a church given to the study of scripture.

The demoniac at Gadara. Was there one or two? Does the scripture say there was only one? Does it restrict the number to two? What is lost in either case? Nothing!

now, do any of those supposed contradictions affect the way a Christian is commanded to live his life, or practice their faith? NOPE. Do any of them effect the central message of salvation through Jesus? NOPE. In fact those so called contradictions have nothing to do with any doctrine or essential tenet. Then we find that in all cases all parts of the story are there right? Then even under your logic why would we believe that something is missing when it comes to Jesus, salvation, faith and practice?

I only handle it like the's all there, so why is something missing or uncharacteristically added when it comes to Jesus himself?

Look, this professor doesn't even know what Jesus was least in his book, "Jesus Interrupted" when he asks on Pg. 22 Why Jesus wasn't arrested for cleansing the temple the first time...I mean he was NEVER arrested for cleansing the temple...EVER...

I'll send my kid to UNC if he gets a basketball scholarship, maybe even track, but I'll not pay a dime to go there for religious studies or any other for that matter.

District Supt. Harvey Burnett said...

Mr. Mcall, you KNOW I'm not down with that mess...don't even try to confuse the fringe and the exception with the what I represent and or believe.

You know I join you in condemning all forms of abuse...even when it's done by athiests...Even that fella Graydon that beat up Sapient is worthy of condemnation isn't he?