Contradictions (7): Cleansing the Temple

Driving of the Merchants from the Temple, Scarsellino, 1580-1585

Driving of the Merchants from the Temple, Scarsellino, 1580-1585

The gospels relate a key event in which Jesus cleansed the Jewish temple in Jerusalem, kicking out the money changers and merchants who he felt were defiling that sacred place.  In the synoptic gospels (Matthew 21, Mark 11, and Luke 19), this event is portrayed as taking place at the end of Jesus’ ministry, shortly before his crucifixion.

However, John’s gospel (chapter 2) tells us that this event took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  Critics cite this as an example of contradiction between the gospels, and assert that it demonstrates the gospels’ unreliability as historical documents. Continue reading

Busted (14): Mark’s “Error” Regarding Jewish Handwashing Rituals

Washing-handsCritics are fond of claiming that the gospels are full of historical errors, and that they are therefore unreliable as historical documents.  Today’s article focuses on an alleged error in Mark’s gospel.  Let’s get started by allowing biblical scholar, Bart Ehrman, to enlighten us regarding Mark’s ineptitude as an historian:

Mark 7:3 indicates that the Pharisees ‘and all the Jews’ washed their hands before eating, so as to observe ‘the tradition of the elders.’ This is not true: most Jews did not engage in this ritual.1

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Busted (11): The Nazareth Myth

A scene from modern-day Nazareth

A scene from modern-day Nazareth; Source – Wikimedia Commons

To some people, the very idea of Jesus is apparently so threatening, that they will go to great lengths to pretend he never even existed.  Some of the shoddiest biblical “scholarship” I have ever read defends the so-called “Jesus Myth” theory:  The idea that Jesus never existed—or that he was just a normal guy around whom great myths were developed after his death.  From Richard Carrier to Acharya S (a pseudonym for author Dorothy Murdock, apparently meaning “guru”), we get treated to numerous varieties of the Jesus myth.  One element of the Jesus myth is the idea that Nazareth, Jesus’ home town, did not exist in his day.  As this fringe argument goes:  Nazareth didn’t exist, and so Jesus didn’t either.  As evidence, they tell us that Nazareth is not mentioned in the Old Testament, the Talmud, or in other early rabbinic literature. Continue reading

Contradictions (1): On Which Day Did Jesus Die?

Contradictions Title ImageCritics point to alleged errors and contradictions in the Bible to show that it is neither inspired nor the work of eyewitnesses.  These critics claim that if the biblical writers can’t agree on even the simplest details, how can we possibly believe what they have to say about important spiritual matters?  One such charge is that the gospel writers cannot even agree whether Jesus was crucified on the first day of Passover or the day before Passover. Continue reading

Ben Witherington Critiques Bart Ehrman’s Book, Misquoting Jesus

Misquoting_JesusThis is the last in our series of posts sharing Ben Witherington’s critiques of Bart Ehrman’s work.  Today, we share a critique of Misquoting Jesus:  The Story of Who Changed the Bible and Why.

I have to ask the question:  Does Bart Ehrman have any original thoughts?  This book, like his others, contains many criticisms that are old, as well as busted.  Misquoting Jesus asserts that belief in the divinity of Christ, as well as many other core tenets of Christianity, are basically the result of scribes altering the original texts over the centuries, either intentionally or unintentionally. Continue reading

Ben Witherington Critiques Bart Ehrman’s Book, Jesus Interrupted


Dr. Ben Witherington

Below is the description from of Bart Ehrman’s book, Jesus, Interrupted:  Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them):

The problems with the Bible that New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman discussed in his bestseller Misquoting Jesus—and on The Daily Show with John Stewart, NPR, and Dateline NBC, among others—are expanded upon exponentially in his latest book: Jesus, Interrupted.  This New York Times bestseller reveals how books in the Bible were actually forged by later authors, and that the New Testament itself is riddled with contradictory claims about Jesus—information that scholars know… but the general public does not.  If you enjoy the work of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong, you’ll find much to ponder in Jesus, Interrupted.

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Ben Witherington Critiques Bart Ehrman’s Book, Forged

Bart Ehrman

Dr. Bart Ehrman

Bart Ehrman is the man that gives Christians more heartburn than any other academic these days.  Erhman is a well-known Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  He is a specialist in New Testament textual criticism, and he has written a wide range of books that are, in my opinion, damaging the Christian faith by repeating and amplifying various false theories.

Ehrman is an agnostic, but he didn’t start out that way.  Raised with a fundamentalist background, he seems to have “rebelled” against that during his time as an academic, and now works to deconstruct the Christian faith. Continue reading

The Truth About Jesus’ Burial


One assertion made by anti-Christian authors, such as Bart Ehrman in his recent book, How Jesus Became God, is that Jesus was never buried in a tomb.  Contrary to gospel accounts, they say, the Roman authorities did not allow executed criminals to be buried.  Instead, Jesus would have been left hanging on the cross to become carrion for birds and dogs.  There was no “empty tomb” from which the resurrected Jesus could have emerged because, simply put, there was no tomb. Continue reading