While I’m definitely not an apologist for Ehrman, readers of his books must be aware that they aren’t written for a scholarly audience but for the general public, curious to find out if Jesus actually existed. In that respect I found no flaws in his methodology and he freely admitted any errors, minor though they may be, and his critics have used these to attack his thesis.
There were not just replies about minor errors, there were huge things wrong with his book. For example, he accused Murdock of fabricating evidence regarding the statue in the vatican when he flat out said it did not exist and stated that it was a hand drawn by D.M. Murdock, this was her reply:
Over the years since The Christ Conspiracy was published, this image has been the periodic focus of interest. Of late, in his new book Did Jesus Exist?, Bart Ehrman has raised up this image in my book and appears to be accusing me of fabricating it. Quoting me first, he comments:
“‘Peter’ is not only ‘the rock’ but also ‘the cock,’ or penis, as the word is used as slang to this day.” Here Acharya shows (her own?) hand drawing of a man with a rooster head but with a large erect penis instead of a nose, with this description: “Bronze sculpture hidden in the Vatican treasure [sic] of the Cock, symbol of St. Peter” (295). [There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this, which love to make things up.]
(The “treasure” typo is Ehrman’s, while the “sic” is mine. The other comments in brackets and parentheses are Ehrman’s.)
In insinuating that I drew the image myself, Ehrman is indicating he did not notice the citation under it in my book, clearly referring to Barbara Walker’s work. He is further implying that I simply make things up, and he is asserting with absolute certainty that no such bronze has existed in the Vatican, essentially stating that I fabricated the entire story. Contrary to these unseemly accusations, the facts are that I did not draw the image, the source of which was cited, and that, according to several writers, the image certainly is “hidden” in the Vatican, as I stated.
In The Woman’s Dictionary (397), Walker cites the image as “Knight, pl. 2,” which, in her bibliography, refers to: Knight, Richard Payne. A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus. New York: University Books, 1974.
Consulting an earlier edition of Knight’s book (1865), we find a discussion of the object in question:
...the celebrated bronze in the Vatican has the male organs of generation placed upon the head of a cock, the emblem of the sun, supported by the neck and shoulders of a man. In this composition they represented the generative power of the Ερως [Eros], the Osiris, Mithras, or Bacchus, whose centre is the sun. By the inscription on the pedestal, the attribute thus personified, is styled The Saviour of the World…, a title always venerable under whatever image it be presented.
Here Knight references the image as “Plate II. Fig. 3.” Turning to the back of the book, around p. 263, we find the image (right), which is hand-drawn because of its age, printed when photography was still not entirely feasible for publishers.
On page 35, Knight mentions the “celebrated bronze” again:
...Oftentimes, however, these mixed figures had a peculiar and proper meaning, like that of the Vatican Bronze…
Another source, Gordon Williams in A Dictionary of Sexual Language and Imagery (258), comments about this artifact:
The relationship of cock and phallus is ancient. A bronze bust in the Vatican Museum, bearing the Greek inscription “Redeemer of the World” (Fuchs, Geschichte der Erotischen Kunst [Berlin 1908] fig. 103), is given a cock’s head, the nose or beak being an erect penis.
Doing our scholarly due diligence, we find the pertinent figure in Fuchs on p. 133. Hot on the trail, we discover more information in Daniela Erlach’s Privatisierung der Triebe? (1994:203) about the “small bust known as the Albani bronze, still housed in the Vatican’s secret collection…” There, we read further: “Its plinth is inscribed ‘Saviour of the World’ in Greek, and it is possibly of Gnostic import.”
In another mention of the “notorious Albani bronze said to be held in the Vatican Museum,” we learn that such Roman phallic representations are called priapi gallinacei. (Jones, Malcolm, The Secret Middle Ages, 75) As we can see, this bronze image is “celebrated” and “notorious,” which means many scholars have written about it, also stating that it is “housed” and “held” in the Vatican Museum.
This is not a minor issue, this is accusing someone of fabricating evidence. But it’s worse than that, because if you read the article you will find out pretty quickly that he also misrepresented her argument to begin with. Now if you had kept with the various replies which are 80+ then you would note that this is what is at issue here, I would post the link myself but apparently the thing registers it as spam. But just search Rene Salm into google and click on Rene Salm hub page then go to mythacist papers and then click on the tag Ehrman and it’s the first link there. I guarantee you’ll be singing a different tune if you do this.
And why should he not put forth views he already agrees with and use any additional research to bolster his claim? When writing a monograph the writer must focus his evidence on the thesis, to do otherwise leads to digression and confusion.
Except he is not writing a monograph, a monograph is something for which you publish and present to the scholastic field. He was writing a book which attempted to educate people on why New Testament historians believe Jesus to have existed. In order to do this in a way that doesn’t mislead the public he would also have to discuss methodological issues with the research, the current state of the debate on the methodologies, disagreements about the sources and why and what the stances are. To not do this misleads the public into thinking there are no major debates on the issue and he conveys this very thing when he mentions no such criticism, states consistently that all scholars agree on this source when all scholars do not and at times even most scholars don’t agree with his source. It is not just an issue nitpicking for me, it is an issue of negligence in attempting to educate the public about these issues; whether deliberate or not.
And as to Judiasm being a religion of the “book” he is synthesizing the rabbinic writings and the Talmud as commentaries on what later became the OldTestament. Readers relate more to the familiar references beyond their understanding. I admit that reading a popular work written by a scholar can be tedious at times as they have a tendency add details that may confuse the merely curious reader not bent on obtaining a PhD. In the field, but I found his writing very consise and his evidence backed his thesis.
I also found his critics to have taken an anti-scholarly approach by descending into name calling and personal attacks, e.g. Richard Carrier’s diatribes are an example.
I assume you’re talking about the mythacist critics, if so then you’re dead wrong and you obviously betray exactly your lack of knowledge about what the replies are to him. I challenge you or anyone else to go through the mythacist responses to Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist? and then tell me whether or not you feel the same.