In the previous post, I discuss the unspoken common ground between the ‘historical Jesus’ and the ‘Jesus of Faith’ and how Ehrman uses this to portray ‘mythicists’ as a minority view. It’s safe to say that a great number of teachers in theological seminaries and divinity schools (and I think many in ‘secular’ colleges and universities) believe that Jesus not only existed, but worked miracles, rose from the dead, and was the son of a god, and communes with believers from his seat in Heaven. Up until now Ehrman has downplayed this fact.
In the first chapter An Introduction to the Mythical View of Jesus Ehrman does have something to say about these ‘real scholars’ and the Jesus they teach:
The Jesus proclaimed by preachers and theologians today had no existence. That particular Jesus is (or those particular Jesuses are) a myth.
Here Ehrman betrays that all is not well in the Jesus academy – the Jesus of Faith (the Jesus or Jesuses accepted by many if not most of the teachers in theological seminaries, divinity schools, and colleges and universities) is a myth. It would hardly come as a surprise if many of them have a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus, invoke him in their prayers, and view his ministry on Earth as the single most important even in human history. Doesn’t this seem to undermine his contention that ‘nearly every trained scholar on the planet’ is exercising a dispassionate interest in maintaining that Jesus – his words and deeds – is the real cause of christianity?
It appears as though Ehrman is being a bit disingenuous, and insulting the intelligence of his readers, if he can use these real scholars to try and make mythicists out to be a ‘very small minority voice’ and then just as quickly quietly discard them when he has no further use of them. Ehrman is trying to walk a very thin line here, and perhaps hoping his readership won’t notice that the evidence that convinces the bulk of believers in the reality of a Jesus of Nazareth is informed by faith.
Having wrapped himself in the lion’s skin of ‘all the experts on the planet’ Ehrman intends to speak for them knowing full well his own view is most likely a minority opinion among these ‘experts’.
For now I want to stress the most foundational point of all: even though some views of Jesus could loosely be labeled myths (in the sense that mythicists use the term: these views are not history but imaginative creation), Jesus himself was not a myth. He really existed.
Having first embraced these believers in mythical Jesuses because like him the also believe Jesus really existed, Ehrman now is prepared to throw them under the bus.