Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Bart Ehrman on The Daily Show

Bart Ehrman was on The Daily Show today talking about his new book, Misquoting Jesus. Normally, when Mark starts harping on about theology I glaze over and enter a catatonic state until he's finished. After all, if it doesn't contain the word "computer" or "C++", what is there to interest me? However, I know that Mark knows Bart Ehrman. In addition, "Misquoting Jesus" is a catchy title and Jon Stewart is funny. This was enough to hook me, so I watched the interview.

It was an interesting interview. Ehrman talked about how he used to be a "born again" Christian who believed that the Bible was the exact and unchangeable Word of God, until he studied theology. He then realised that there were thousands of manuscripts, each different, which have been utilised in the formation of the sort of book we would find in a hotel room.

Jon Stewart then made an astute point (and one that reflects my own view) -- that the knowledge that the Bible has developed over time; and reflects the experiences and biases of both the original writers and the countless subsequent scribes; only serves to bring the Bible to life and make it more, not less Godly. He said that he had not previously been interested in the Bible, but that reading Ehrman's book has made it seem more exciting.

I've never met Bart Ehrman myself, but I think that he came across very well on the programme. I must admit that the interview has made me want to read his book.

I'm just on the penultimate chapter of a book that one of Mark's friends wrote, called The Gospel Hoax. Apparently, there was a chap called Morton Smith who, in the late 1950s, made up a gospel (known to theologians as Secret Mark). Stephen Carlson, the said friend, is a patent attorney who used his skills to show how the gospel was actually an elaborate hoax. The last chapter is called "The Anatomy of an Academic Hoax". I haven't got there yet, but I'm hoping that it's going to be an Agatha Christie style telling us how he did it. If you like a good hoax story, this book is a good read.

Once I've finished this book, I might start on Ehrman's. I get the impression that it's aimed at a level where even non-theologians can understand it.


Jonny Goodacre said...

Imagine how excited I was as I reached for the video hearing that an eminent theologian from North Carolina was on! Then there seemed to be some imposter with an American accent, not the famous theologian, ex of Granville School, that we had all expected.

jacqui said...

We love the 'Daily show' and quite often the books mentioned on the show seem very thought provoking.

One the books my husband has been reading recently is the 'God Gene' by Dean Hamer. (paraphrased from back page) His premise is that the inclination toward religious faith is programmed into our genes , helping us to get through difficulties, reducing stress ,preventing disease and extending life.

I haven't actually read the book myself, I tend to read art history but my husband, who is not religious in the slightest, just loves books that take a dispassionate look at such a contentious issue. Like you, he's more the science based member of the family (Math/physics Degree).

Must admit I had wry smile to myself when you say ' Normally, when Mark starts harping on about theology I glaze over and enter a catatonic state until he's finished.' I often feel that way when my husband becomes passionate about an issue. However, it is a fascinating subject especially in such a religious society as the US is and all it moral contradictions.

Grish said...

I watched this Daily Show episode tonight on Tivo. I admit afterwards I was thinking of reading his book myself.

Anders Branderud said...


I think the formal logical and historical research of what Ribi Yehoshuas (the Messiah) from Nazareth's taught found at can be an interesting read for you.

Anders Branderud