Excited today! Received my hard copy of the book Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth edited by Frank R Zindler and Robert M Price. This book is an evaluation of Dr Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist? which took on the double task of presenting his argument why there was indeed a man known as ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ upon whom the gospel narratives are based and responding to some arguments of ‘mythicists’ who question that premise.
Some of the response to Ehrman’s book I am familiar with having followed the debate as it occurred (and is ongoing!) online. I will have to preface this series with the admission that I have not read all of Ehrman’s book (hereafter referred to as DJE?). Perhaps I will have to obtain a copy from the library – we have an excellent library here in town – so that I will be able to understand the context of the arguments being developed.
One reason I have not yet read DJE? is that the reviews for this book have not been overwhelmingly positive – and the material I have read hasn’t persuaded me that the book would be a good resource for my personal library.
My plan here is to read both books with a view to trying to determine for myself whether either view is able to make its case, with Ehrman representing the ‘historicist’ and the various authors included in this response representing some ‘mythicist’ perspectives on Ehrman’s argument.
One criticism of this new book – to shorten the title I shall use the acronym BEQHJN – is that it does not itself represent an argument for a ‘mythic Jesus’ but is only a compendium of certain criticisms of materials presented in DJE?. This is a real problem in that readers may expect a coherent theory for that position to be laid out.
But I hope that will not present a problem for me as I do not have that expectation – the authors responding to Ehrman – Richard Carrier, Earl Doherty, David Fitzgerald, D M Murdock, Rene Salm, Robert Price, and Frank Zindler – all have their own unique takes on the question. So the format will be a kind of ‘point/counterpoint’ discussion instead of an organic whole.
One reason I have opted to purchase a hard copy of this book is that I am partial to reading from books. The list price isn’t exorbitant (about the price of two movie tickets, two sodas, and two popcorns) and I’m sure this will be more valuable to me than a night out viewing the latest Hollywood blockbuster.