Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier by Bart Ehrman

Richard Carrier is one of the new breed of mythicists.  He is trained in ancient history and classics, with a PhD from Columbia University – an impressive credential.  In my book Did Jesus Exist I speak of him as a smart scholar with bona fide credentials.   I do, of course, heartily disagree with him on issues relating to the historical Jesus, but I have tried to take his views seriously and to give him the respect he deserves.       Carrier, as many of you know, has written a scathing review of Did Jesus Exist on his Freethought Blog.   He indicates that my book is “full of errors,” that it “misinforms more than it informs” that it provides “false information” that it is “worse than bad” and that “it officially sucks.”   The attacks are sustained throughout his lengthy post, and they often become personal.  He indicates that “Ehrman doesn’t actually know what he is talking about,” he claims that I speak with “absurd” hyperbole, that my argument “makes [me] look irresponsible,” that I am guilty of “sloppy work,” that I “misrepresent” my opponents and “misinform the public,” that what I write is “crap,” that I am guilty of “arrogantly dogmatic and irresponsible thinking,” that I am “incompetent,” make “hack” mistakes, and do not “act like a real scholar.”       Most of his review represents an attempt to substantiate these claims.   Some readers may find the overblown rhetoric offensive, but I have no interest in engaging in a battle of wits and rhetorical flourishes.  I would simply like to see if the charges of my incompetence can be sustained.       Let me say at the outset that I am not perfect, that as a full-blooded human being, I do make mistakes, and that nothing I say is an inerrant revelation from above.  I sometimes try to convince my wife otherwise, but, frankly, I’ve made very little headway there.   When I do make mistakes, I am not afraid to admit it.   I don’t *like* admitting it, but my interest really is in discussing what we can know about history, not in proving that I’m always in the right.       One of the mistakes I make in the book I should state up front, because Carrier found it particularly offensive.  I indicated in the book that Carrier’s degree was in Classics.  I was wrong about that.  His PhD is in Ancient History.   I am not sure where I got the wrong impression he was a classicist; I think when I first heard of him I was told that he worked in ancient history and classics, and the “classics” part just stuck with me, possibly because I have always revered the field.   In any event, I apologize for the mistake.  His degree is in Ancient History, although he is trained as well in classics.

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