Bart D. Ehrman

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"Ehrman" redirects here. For another historian, see John Ehrman.
Bart D. Ehrman
Professor Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D., M.Div.
Born (1955-10-05) October 5, 1955 (age 60)
Lawrence, Kansas, United States
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.
Spouse(s) Sarah Beckwith
Children Kelly and Derek

Bart D. Ehrman /ərmən/ (born October 5, 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. He is a leading scholar in his field,[1] having written and edited over 25 books, including three college textbooks, and has also achieved acclaim at the popular level, authoring five New York Times bestsellers. Ehrman's work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the development of 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 Moody Bible Institute, where he earned the school's three-year diploma in 1976.[2] He is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he received his bachelor's degree. 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.[3]


Ehrman became an Evangelical Christian as a teenager. 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.[2] His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and also 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 15 years but later became an agnostic after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.[2]

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.[3]

Ehrman 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).[3]

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 L. 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 appeared on the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, A&E, Dateline NBC, CNN, and NPR's Fresh Air and his writings have been featured in TIME, Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.[7]


Ehrman has written widely on issues of New Testament and early Christianity at both an academic and popular level, with over 27 books including three college textbooks and five New York Times bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus,[8] Jesus, Interrupted,[9] God's Problem,[10] Forged,[11][12] and How Jesus Became God.[13] Much of his work is on textual criticism and the New Testament. His books have been translated into 27 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".[14]

In Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Ehrman argues that the historical Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, and that imminent apocalyptic beliefs are recorded first in the earliest Christian documents (the authentic Pauline epistles, 1st Thessalonians and 1st Corinthians) 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 get a throne alongside the son of man and judge each of the twelve Jewish tribes (Mt 19:28). Jesus may have come to believe he was to be the son of man, or else a gospel writer may have put those words and that idea in Jesus' mouth. The early Christians believed Jesus to be the returning son of man. There are no "end times" predicted in the latest, and last gospel, the Gospel of John,[15][16] although critics cite (Jn 5:28-29), (Jn 6:44), and (Jn 14:3), among other passages, to dispute this claim.[citation needed]

In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman 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.[17][18]

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.[19][20]

In Forged, Ehrman posits some New Testament books are literary 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.[21] 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 the Greco-Roman world.[22]

In 2012, Ehrman published Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, defending the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth in contrast to the mythicist theory that Jesus is an entirely mythical or fictitious being.[23]

2014 saw the publication of How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee which examines the historical Jesus, who according to Ehrman neither thought of himself as God nor claimed to be God, and how he came to be thought of as the incarnation of God himself.[24]

Criticism and Praise[edit]

Daniel Wallace, while critical of some of Ehrman's conclusions, has praised Ehrman as "one of North America’s leading textual critics."[25] Wallace argues, however, that Ehrman sometimes "overstates his case by assuming that his view is certainly correct."[25] For example, Wallace asserts that Ehrman himself acknowledges the vast majority of textual variants are minor, but his popular writing and speaking sometimes makes the sheer number of them appear to be a major problem for getting to the original New Testament text.[25][26][27] In addition, Wallace claims that some of Ehrman's history is incorrect,[28] that he quotes selectively and omits key facts,[28] and that some of his grammatical analysis is incorrect.[25] According to Peter J Williams, he is sometimes "strangely certain about the correct explanation of the variants" while at the same time maintaining that the textual transmission is unreliable.[29]

Ehrman has been widely criticized by conservative evangelical scholars, including William Lane Craig[30] and Norman Geisler.[31] Robert R. Cargill, a scholar known to the public from History Channel series "Bible Secrets Revealed", observed on his blog "If fundamentalist criticism of a biblical scholar is the truest sign of credible scholarship, then Dr. Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has quickly found himself at the top."[32] Cargill ends his post by stating that the Ehrman Project (website) is an attack upon "critical scholarship in general".[32] Josh D. Chatraw notes that Ehrman "repeatedly emphasizes that for years scholars have known of, written about, and lectured on the material he presents. And, of course, he is right."[33] New Testament scholar Craig A Evans observes "At work in Ehrman’s books is an unrelenting attack directed against the fundamentalist understanding of the Bible. Ehrman is not attacking a straw man, for the object of his attacks does indeed exist. But his books address fundamentalist readings, not mainstream understandings of the Bible and the stories it tells." [34] Evans also finds "in his popular books, Ehrman is frequently guilty of the logical fallacy of the excluded middle" that without the original text, accurate accounts cannot be had.[34]

Michael D. Coogan described Ehrman as "a scholar of the first rank."[35]



  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c Ehrman, Bart D.. Misquoting Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco. 2005. ISBN 0-06-073817-0
  3. ^ a b c Official website Bart Ehrman – Biography
  4. ^ "Bart Ehrman". The Colbert Report. June 20, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Bart Ehrman". The Colbert Report. April 9, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Bart Ehrman". The Daily Show. March 14, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2013. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Dwight Garner (April 2, 2006). "Inside the List: The Agnostic". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ Jennifer Schuessler (March 19, 2009). "Inside the List: Honest to Jesus". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction (March 9, 2008)". The New York Times. March 9, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction: Sunday, April 10th 2011". The New York Times. April 10, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2013. 
  12. ^ Official website Bart Ehrman – Main Page
  13. ^ Cowles, Gregory (April 13, 2014). "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction (April 13, 2014)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2014. 
  14. ^ Collins, Raymond F. "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture". Journal of Early Christian Studies. 
  15. ^ Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium by Bart D. Ehrman (September 23, 1999) ISBN 0195124731 Oxford Univ Press pages
  16. ^ "Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium". Publisher's Weekly. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  17. ^ Garner, Dwight (April 2, 2006). "Inside the List". New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  18. ^ Gross, Terry. "Bart Ehrman's 'Misquoting Jesus'". NPR. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  19. ^ Barlow, Rich (May 6, 2009). "Book review: Turning a critical eye to the Bible". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-10-01. 
  20. ^ Blake, John (May 15, 2009). "Former fundamentalist 'debunks' Bible". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  21. ^ "Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says". CNN. May 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-17.  CNN book review article summarizing Ehrman's claim that much of the New Testament was written as a forgery.
  22. ^ "Forgery and Counterforgery. The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics". Oxford University Press. Retrieved May 24, 2014. 
  23. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2013-03-20). "Did Jesus Exist?". (The Huffington Post). Retrieved 2014-04-08. 
  24. ^ "How Jesus Became God". NPR. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
  25. ^ a b c d
  26. ^ Robin Schumacher (July 8, 2013). "The Gospel According to Bart Ehrman". Retrieved June 10, 2015. 
  27. ^ Louis Markos (October 28, 2014). "Ehrman Errant". Retrieved June 18, 2015. 
  28. ^ a b Daniel B. Wallace (May 1, 2012). "The Bart Ehrman Blog and the Reliability of the New Testament Text". Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  29. ^ P. J. Williams (December 31, 2005). "Review of Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus". Retrieved June 2, 2015. 
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^ a b Robert R. Cargill, i stand with bart ehrman: a review of the ‘ehrman project’ February 18, 2011
  33. ^
  34. ^ a b
  35. ^

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