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Bart Ehrman

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Bart Ehrman

"Ehrman" redirects here. For another historian, see John Ehrman.
Bart D. Ehrman
Born (1955-10-05) 5 October 1955 (age 58)
Lawrence, Kansas
Nationality American
Education BA (1978), MDiv (1981), PhD (1985)
Alma mater Moody Bible Institute
Wheaton College
Princeton Theological Seminary
Employer The Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Known for New Testament authentication and textual variants, historical Jesus, early Christian writings, orthodox corruption of scripture.
Religion None (Agnostic)[1]
Spouse(s) Sarah Beckwith
Children Kelly and Derek

Bart D. Ehrman (born 5 October 1955) is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ehrman is a leading New Testament scholar, having written and edited over twenty-five books, including three college textbooks. He has also achieved acclaim at the popular level, authoring four New York Times bestsellers. Ehrman's work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the Historical Jesus, and early Christianity.


Ehrman grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and attended Lawrence High School, where he was on the state champion debate team in 1973. He began studying the Bible and its original languages at the Moody Bible Institute and is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois. He received his PhD and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger. He received magna cum laude for both his BA in 1978 and PhD in 1985.[2]


Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teen. In his books, he recounts his youthful enthusiasm as a born-again, fundamentalist Christian, certain that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error.[3] His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and to textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. He remained a liberal Christian for fifteen years but later became an agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.[3]

Ehrman has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He was the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope “Spirit of Inquiry” Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.[2]

He currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs. Ehrman formerly served as President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, chair of the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society, book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, and editor of the monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers (Scholars Press).[2]

Ehrman speaks extensively throughout the United States and has participated in many public debates, including debates with William Lane Craig, Dinesh D'Souza, Mike Licona, Craig A. Evans, Daniel B. Wallace, Richard Swinburne, Peter J. Williams, James White, Darrell Bock and Michael Brown.

In 2006 and 2009 he appeared on The Colbert Report,[4][5] as well as The Daily Show[6], to promote his books Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus, Interrupted (respectively).


Ehrman has written widely on issues of New Testament and early Christianity at both an academic and popular level, with over twenty five books including four New York Times bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus,[7] Jesus, Interrupted,[8] God's Problem,[9] and Forged.[10][11] Much of his work is on textual criticism and the New Testament. His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

In The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture Ehrman argues that there was a close relationship between the social history of early Christianity and the textual tradition of the emerging New Testament. He examines how early struggles between Christian "heresy" and "orthodoxy" affected the transmission of the documents. Ehrman is often considered a pioneer in connecting the history of the early church to textual variants within biblical manuscripts and in coining such terms as "Proto-orthodox Christianity."

In Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium Ehrman argues that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, and that his apocalyptic beliefs are recorded first in the earliest Christian documents the authentic Pauline epistles, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, and then later in Jesus' preaching in the earliest Christian gospels: the Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew. Paul's epistles and Jesus' preaching indicate Jesus believed the Son of Man would soon arrive, and all present powerful nations would fall and God's kingdom would be established on earth. The twelve disciples would each he get a throne along side the Son of Man and judge each of the twelve Jewish tribes. [Matt 19:28] Jesus may have come to believe he was to be the Son of Man. 0r else a gospel writer may have put those words and that idea in Jesus' mouth.

In Misquoting Jesus he introduces New Testament textual criticism. He outlines the development of New Testament manuscripts and the process and cause of manuscript errors in the New Testament.

In Jesus, Interrupted he describes the progress scholars have made in understanding the Bible over the past two hundred years and the results of their study, results which are often unknown among the population at large. In doing so, he highlights the diversity of views found in the New Testament, the existence of forged books in the New Testament which were written in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later, and the later invention of Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity.

In Forged Ehrman posits some New Testament books are forgeries and shows how widely forgery was practiced by early Christian writers—and how it was condemned in the ancient world as fraudulent and illicit. His scholarly book, Forgery and Counterforgery is an advanced look at the practice of forgery in the NT and early Christian literature. It makes a case for considering falsely attributed or pseudepigraphic books in the New Testament and early Christian literature "forgery," looks at why certain New Testament and early Christian works are considered forged, and the broader phenomenon in Greek and Roman world.

In 2012, Ehrman published Did Jesus Exist? defending the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth existed in contrast to the mythicist theory that Jesus is an entirely mythical or fictitious being woven whole-cloth out of legendary material. He states he expects the book to be criticized both by some atheists as well as fundamentalist Christians. In response, Richard Carrier published a lengthy criticism of the book in April 2012, particularly questioning both Ehrman's facts and methodology.[12] Ehrman replied to Carrier's criticisms on his website, primarily defending himself against Carrier's allegations of factual errors.[13]

Several books have been written in response to Bart's works, including Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus by Timothy Paul Jones; Misrepresenting Jesus: Debunking Bart D. Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus by Edward D. Andrews; Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist? by Richard Carrier, D.M. Murdock, Earl Doherty, René Salm, David Fitzgerald, Frank R. Zindler, and Robert M. Price; and The End of an Illusion: How Bart Ehrman's "Did Jesus Exist?" Has Laid the Case for an Historical Jesus to Rest by Earl Doherty.


Bart Ehrman created the Bart Ehrman Foundation to raise money for poverty, hunger, and homelessness.[14] He started his “Christianity in Antiquity (CIA)” blog in 2012 and all membership fees collected to join the blog are donated to several charities.[15] In the blog Bart provides his insights and opinions on important issues related to the New Testament and early Christianity, discusses his books and public debates, responds to criticisms from other scholars, and answers questions and concerns raised by readers. In its first year, the blog raised $37,000 for charity through blog membership fees.[16]



External links

  • Bart Ehrman's website
  • Christianity in Antiquity (CIA): The Bart Ehrman Blog
  • Faculty page, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Stanford lecture on "Misquoting Jesus" (YouTube video)
  • A Q&A session with Ehrman
  • Interview with Bart Ehrman on "God's Problem" by
  • Bart Ehrman's page at The Teaching Company

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