I recently read through Bart Ehrman’s newest book, Jesus Interrupted. It is a fascinating look at the Biblical texts in all of it’s quirks and contradictions. He sets out to undermine a literalist, objectivist view of scripture in a very compelling and accessible manner. More than anything, I appreciate Ehrman’s ability to bring folks along into some pretty deep waters while keeping his scholarship within the reach of his audience. In my case, Bart is pretty much preaching to the choir. He takes a wrecking ball to the myths of biblical inerrancy and an objectified treatment of scripture.
While it saddens me that Ehrman has abandoned his faith, what he provides here in this book and others is something that should be very helpful for Christians. The Bible does not need to be inerrant or infallible in order for it to be the inspired Word of God. Not only does Ehrman highlight contradictions that seem a bit superficial, but he sheds light on the differences between the competing theologies we find in the New Testament. For example, who’s voice do we heed when it comes to keeping the law or not? Paul’s or Matthew’s? Not that we can’t include both perspectives into a singular theology, but they ARE at odds with one another. What do we make of that? That’s just one example of many that Ehrman proposes.
There is quite a bit of material in Jesus, Interrupted that because of the little I know is hard to totally buy into what Ehrman is saying. His section on the early history of Christianity seems to make sense at face value but I’m not too sure about it all. Ben Witherington has done an extensive blog series responding to this book. It’s worth skimming just to keep some balance but when I read a bit of it, it seems like Witherington is doing a bit more stretching than Ehrman seems to be doing.
On a related note, you can check out an interview with Ehrman by Tony Jones right here.