Historical Assault on Faith or Contemporary Eclipse of Historical Text
I am reading the first chapter of Jesus Interrupted, A Historical Assault on Faith, and reading issue after issue with the text of either the Hebrew or the Greek and then Dr. Ehrman goes into the plagues in Exodus and list a couple of references. I decide to pick up a reputable translation of the Hebrew and look up those references: Exodus 9:5 and Exodus 9:21-22 (page 10 in the book). Oh no, those texts don’t say anything close to what Ehrman just stated that they say and that is the first thing I have checked. He totally distorted the texts and said verse 21-22 talk about livestock present when all the livestock in Egypt has been destroyed in Exodus 9:5. The problem is that 9:5 did not say that all the livestock were destroyed. Verse 5 makes the point that the Israeli livestock were spared in spite of the plague coming upon the Egyptian livestock. This is not a matter of knowing the Hebrew—it is very clear what is said here about livestock. I am going to have to scrutinize Dr. Ehrman much closer as I go through the rest of this book!!
In this first chapter he also gets right to a hot topic for textual critics and complainers against the Gospels: the accounts of the events immediately following the Resurrection of the body of Jesus Christ. I will concede to him that these accounts, on the surface, appear to contradict each other but he simply concludes that they are contradictory accounts and does not explore the possible harmonizing of these accounts. That is what they are, differing accounts, and the variances make one big statement about the authors of the gospels—there was absolutely no collusion or conspiracy in the writing of these Gospels. They were written by 4 different men for different audiences. They stand on their own because they are historic, truthful and accurate.
There is something important that Dr. Ehrman missed here. If you read any one of these accounts you will see that women were the first to discover that the tomb was empty. Given the status of women in the Jewish culture at that time, if the disciples were fudging these accounts, they would have never stated that women were the first to discover the empty tomb. In that culture, this was an embarrassment and would have been covered up if these men were not telling the truth.
It’s important to note that because these post resurrection accounts are told by at least 3 of the Gospel writers, the accounts have been reconciled by many scholars who have studied them in great detail.
(Dr. Ehrman fails is to inform his readers that many scholars studying these resurrection passages have reconciled the accounts of the events immediately following the bodily resurrection of the Christ.)