Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bart Ehrman Spanks Acharya S' Christ Conspiracy

I often target Acharya S’ cyber-teachings since she is responsible for popularizing so many of the types of claims it has been my personal labor to respond to.

What do we want?
Source critical conscientious historiography!
When do we want it?
After peer review!
In contrast to sensationalists like Acharya S--abusing history for money, writing books claiming gods from Egypt, Persia, Greece, India (that's right, India!) and Rome were stirred in a religious pot to invent Jesus soup--are the real scholars in the field like Bart D. Ehrman.  Unlike Murdock, Ehrman holds an academic chair at a major university and has a related PhD from Princeton.  (All the Acharya readers out in Remythologized land, you can read that last sentence as "kingpin in the uninformed academic mafia to suppress internet scholarship".)   He is likely the most famous American New Testament scholar alive for his lectures and publications.  I don't know how to put this, but he's kinda a big deal.  His home probably contains many leather bound books and the scent of mahogany.

Compare his CV with Murdock's errrr "resume"--which is really only a biographical story on her website since listing out qualifications would look far too meager.  I'll save you the read: She has only a BA in Classics [not New Testament] and dropped out one year into her MA...She was also an honor roll student in high school and has been mistaken for a Greek boy over the telephone before...That's relevant somehow.

Ehrman is not a believer.  He's self-described as an "agnostic leaning towards atheism" and has published books with titles and subtitles like, “The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics”; …"How the Bible Fails…”; “Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible”, and …”Who Changed the Bible and Why?”  In his recent book Did Jesus Exist? On pages 21-25, we find this delightful appraisal of Acharya by Ehrman:
Mythicists of [Acharya’s] ilk should not be surprised that their views are not taken seriously by real scholars…The book is filled with so many factual errors and outlandish assertions that it is hard to believe that the author is serious.  If she is serious, it is hard to believe that she has ever encountered anything resembling historical scholarship.  Her “research” appears to have involved reading a number of non-scholarly books that say the same thing she is about to say and then quoting them…One cannot help but wondering if [her arguments are] all a spoof done in good humor… Later we will see that all of Acharya’s major points are in fact wrong.  Jesus was not invented in Alexandria, Egypt, in the middle of the second Christian century.  He was known already in the 30s of the first century, in Jewish circles of Palestine.
Ehrman continues his critique of Acharya by listing, “a few of the howlers one encounters” in her book:

·         The second-century church father Justin never quotes or mentions any of the Gospels (25).  [This simply isn’t true: he mentions the Gospels on numerous occasions; typically he calls them “Memoirs of the Apostles” and quotes from them, especially from Matthew, Mark, and Luke.]

·         The Gospels were forged hundreds of years after the evens they narrate (26).  [In fact, the Gospels were written at the end of the first century, about thirty-five to sixty-five years after Jesus’s death, and we have physical proof: one fragment of a Gospel manuscript dates to the early second century.  How could it have been forged centuries after that?]

·         We have no manuscript of the New Testament that dates prior to the fourth century (26). [This is just plain wrong: we have numerous fragmentary manuscripts that date from the second and third centuries.]

·         The autographs “were destroyed after the Council of Nicaea” (26). [In point of fact, we have no knowledge of what happened to the original copies of the New Testament; they were probably simply used so much they wore out.  There is not a scintilla of evidence to suggest that they survived until Nicaea or that they were destroyed afterward; plenty of counterevidence indicates they did not survive until Nicaea.]

·         “It took well over a thousand years to canonize the New Testament,” and “many councils” were needed to differentiate the inspired from the spurious books (31). [Actually, the first author to list our canon of the New Testament was the church father Athanasius in the year 367 the comment about “many councils” is simply made up.]

·         Paul never quotes a saying of Jesus (33). [Acharya has evidently never read the writings of Paul.  As we will see, he does quote saying of Jesus.]

·         The Acts of Pilate, a legendary account of Jesus’ trial and execution, was once considered canonical (44). [None of our sparse references to the Acts of Pilate indicates, or even suggests, any such thing.]

·         The “true meaning of the word gospel is ‘God’s Spell,’ as in magic, hypnosis and delusion” (45). [No, the word gospel comes to us from the Old English term god spel, which means ”good news”—a fairly precise translation of the Greek word euaggelion. It has nothing to do with magic.]

·         The church father “Irenaeus was a Gnostic” (60). [In fact, he was one of the most virulent opponents of Gnostics in the early church.]

·         Augustine was “originally a Mandaean, i.e., a Gnostic, until after the Council of Nicaea” (60). [Augustine was not even born until nineteen years after the Council of Nicaea, and he certainly was no Gnostic.]

·         “'Peter’ is not only ‘the rock’ but also the cock,’ or [phallus--keep'n it medically esoteric for the children], as the word is used as slang to this day.”…[There is no [phallus]-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this, which love to make things up.]

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, (USA: HarperCollins, 2012).


  1. If scholars use their academic credentials to lend weight to their arguments, then we should expect their arguments to live up to high standards. So let's see what Ehrman says:

    - "Augustine was not even born until nineteen years after the Council of Nicaea". Oops, professor Bart gets it wrong: Nicea was in 325, St Augustine was born in 354: hence 29 years difference, not 19!
    - "There is no [phallus]-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else". Oh no, there IS a phallus nosed statue and clear evidence has been presented for it.

    - "the Gospels were written at the end of the first century, ..... and we have physical proof: one fragment of a Gospel manuscript dates to the early second century." Bart refers to a tiny fragment containing a few words of the gospel of John, dated first half second century. This does not represent 'physical proof' that any gospel was written at (or before) that time, not even the gospel of John.

    1. 1) Regardless of whether Ehrman is using different (more generous) parameters for whatever reason or if he genuinely made a mistake we both agree Acharya was wrong when she claimed Augustine lived before Nicaea.

      2) Quoting Ehrman’s blog: "The statue does appear to exist. But it has nothing to do with Peter, as any sophomore in college with one semester of Greek under his belt and a course or two in religious studies could tell you. On the base of the statue are the words SOTER KOSMOU – Greek for 'Savior of the World.' No Christian ever thought that Peter was the Savior of the World. Peter was not portrayed in the early church in ithyphallic form." Since the reproduction of the statue in her book clearly reads SOTER KOSMOU do you have any reason we should identify this figure as Peter son of Simon?

      3) To be blunt, you are trying to take inane textual-critical positions. I surely hope you don’t agree with her claim that we have no gospel manuscripts until the forth century. That is historical insanity. We have a nearly complete copy of John (P66) in Egypt by 200 AD of which fragments like P52 are representative, and we have quotations of John dating before Acharya believes the text was written (for example: Justin Martyr or Heracleon's commentary). P52 is a genuine "proof" because it is obvious the fragment was part of a larger work. There is no reason to conclude otherwise. It has a front and back with the texts arranged as we would expect of a fuller gospel corpus. Also, due to it’s geographic origin in comparison with other manuscripts it demonstrates the gospel was in working form by then. The provision of its authorship into the late first century is demanded by calculating the dissemination of the text to the geography of Egypt among other reasons. The synoptics are surely earlier since they contain multiple, early Aramaic source material. In some instances they are historically dependent on a first-century Palestinian context to even be intelligible in their full sense as Ehrman shows in the book.

    2. "the Gospels were written at the end of the first century, ..... and we have physical proof: one fragment of a Gospel manuscript dates to the early second century." Bart refers to a tiny fragment containing a few words of the gospel of John, dated first half second century. This does not represent 'physical proof' that any gospel was written at (or before) that time, not even the gospel of John.

      Good point. That tiny fragment with words from John prove that dogs can quote Winston Churchill.

  2. I read two of her books. very thorough, well written and researched. Unlike this blog. Acharya is an intellectual heavyweight. The facts aren't there; Jesus definitely was not. Don't be jealous that a non-ivy leaguer put it all together, and a woman to boot! LOL

    1. Calling Acharya a intellectual heavyweight is laughable. I've never met George Washington, Caesar or Gandhi & neither has anyone I've heard of. But we all know these people were historical figures. Do you know why? Multiple independent sources record their history. In the case of the historical Jesus there are a few independent authors, & while they all have their contradictions, there all elements from each source that give enough clues to make legitimate ASSUMPTIONS about who he may have been (aside from being Jewish of course). So, for Murdock, or Acharya as she calls herself (lame), for her to make such definitive claims that are at odds with those of the much more educated majority is ridiculous. Acharya is a pathetic, purely pathetic.

  3. The Bart Ehrman fanboys need to give this link a good going over:

    1. I've read the Ehrman-Carrier exchange. I'm not inclined to take the time to read what Acharya, Zindler or Wells have to say since none of them are Biblical scholars.

    2. LOL, yeah, I can certainly see why you're so afraid to read any responses by Acharya since she completely and thoroughly debunks all of your lies and smears as well as all that crap from Ehrman, who btw, got caught LYING about Acharya by Dr. Carrier Ph.D. and Dr. Robert Price, a biblical scholar with two Ph.D's.

      "I just read the quote by Dr. Price calling Bart Ehrman’s comments on this issue about Acharya, “LIBEL”:

      “Such libel only reveals a total disinclination to do a fraction of the research manifest on any singe page of Acharya’s works.”

      - Dr. Robert Price, page xxi of the book, ‘Bart Erhman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?’

      Richard Carrier defended Acharya on this issue in the book too as well as across several of his own blogs:

      “At the very least I would expect Ehrman to have called the Vatican museum about this, and to have checked the literature on it, before arrogantly declaring no such object existed and implying Murdock made this up … She did not make that up. The reason this error troubles me is that it is indicative of the carelessness and arrogance Ehrman exhibits throughout this book … [Ehrman] often doesn’t check his facts, and clearly did little to no research. This makes the book extremely unreliable. A reader must ask, if he got this wrong, what other assertions in the book are false? And since making sure to get details like this right is the only useful purpose this book could have had, how can we credit this book as anything but a failure?”

      The Priapus Affair

      “In his second reply he addressed one single point in my review. And here I believe there is reason to suspect he is lying about the Priapus statue. In my review of his book I called him out for saying (certainly very clearly implying) that Murdock “made up” the statue at the Vatican that she presents a drawing of and says is a symbol of Peter. He clearly did not call the Vatican about it or research the claim at all.”

      “[Bart Ehrman] said in a podcast (before my review and before Murdock herself exposed him on this) that the statue did not in any sense exist.

      That’s right. On Homebrewed Christianity, April 3 (2012), “Bart Ehrman on Jesus’ Existence, Apocalypticism & Holy Week,” timestamp 20:30-21:10: at this point in that podcast, Ehrman says Acharya talks about Peter the cock and shows a drawing of a statue with a penis for a nose and claims this is in the Vatican museum, at which Ehrman declares, with laughter, “It’s just made up! There is no such s[tatue]… It’s just completely made up”.”

      [P.S. After publishing this post, it occurred to me to mention as well, that in fact he gives no argument at all in his book for why Murdock is wrong to conclude this is a statue of Peter. His only argument is that the statue doesn't exist. Which only makes sense as a rebuttal if indeed he meant the statue wholly did not exist. Otherwise, why is she wrong to conclude it symbolizes Peter? Ehrman doesn't say. This seems to me strong evidence that he is now lying about what he really thought and meant when writing the book. Because surely he would give a reason why she is wrong. So what reason did he give?]“

      LOL, When can we expect an apology from you, Ben, after spreading Ehrmans smears and character assassinations directed at Acharya? Or does integrity and honesty not part of your style because you prefer a Christian bigoted position since your agenda is simply to shore up your faith and euphoria at all costs? Lets see you take this to Ehrman's blog and watch him delete it because he has ruined his own credibility with it and refuses to discuss it. He knows what would happen if everybody knew so he avoids it like the plague.

    3. Here's my take on the academic — AND general critical thinking — limitations not just of Acharya, but ALL the top-level Jesus denialists.

    4. You do realize, anonymous Ehrman has responded to this source?

  4. Ben...i was inclined to look into what you had to say about Acharya...but it seems that your scholarly ego is getting in the way.Your authority scholar bias is highly suspect.

    1. Jesus "sets straight" Nicodemus, the Mighty Scholar”:
      Nicodemus, acts so stupid before Jesus as he cannot comprehend what Jesus is trying to tell him..
      John 3 (New International Version)
      10 “You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? 11

      Who is Nicodemus?

      Joh 3:1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.

      Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrim. What is Sanhedrim? They were the legislative body of Israel. They knew the law and were devout Jews of that day. Nicodemus was a man of high rank and a respectable member of the Sanhedrim. He was a ruler of the Jews, a counselor, called a “master in Israel.” He was an expositor of the Jewish law.
      Now we see Nicodemus as a spiritual giant, an expert of the Biblical law. On the other hand we see Jesus, a humble Jew, born to a poor family. His followers, poor ordinary people of the same class in society as himself.
      Many times the Pharisees tried to trap him but he was able to show superior knowledge and gave answers to the Pharisees where they blushed.
      Nicodemus thought, the Jews were descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the children of the kingdom. Then Nicodemus said to Jesus:

      How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:4)

      Here we see the difference, Jesus is talking spiritual and Nicodemus is taking it literally. It seems that Nicodemus acts so stupid before Jesus as he cannot comprehend our Lord’s figurative language. Here Nicodemus is thinking they are all the children of the kingdom. This is where many false doctrines taught from the pulpit as many interpret figurative language of the Bible into literal language. These are pulpit crimes.

      You are reminded with this post, Nicodemus acts so stupid before Jesus as he cannot comprehend.I dare say as you seem to do the very same. your outlook of putting emphasis on so much ‘scholarship” is extremely shallow to say the least.
      In truth only God is the ultimate Know-er and “Rabbi” to all who seek Him sincerely from the heart and would be fit to do his work.
      Career making with Gods ‘things” may not be for you,my brother, as you seem to plan to want to do, unless you at once change your understanding of the Things of God and totally “get” that God indeed is no respecter of persons,no matter the CV you seem to worship may be piled up to heaven.Seek Truth first, before choosing career making in Gods’ “things” ,for He is never mocked and it is hard to go past Him with a bunch of human "creds" if devoid of truth.

    2. Murdock, represented by the gifted counsel, Robert Price, plans to sue everyone who refuses to acknowledge her as the greatest mind in all recorded history.

    3. 1 Corinthians 2.14 advocates a gnostic approach to textual *significance.* Not a gnostic approach to *textual meaning.*

  5. Note to all: I'm a non-Gnu Atheist (or, a "soft" atheist not too far removed from agnosticism) who has a better academic background in Biblical studies than both Ben AND all the Jesus denialists except Price.

    While having no problem noting all the historical and theological errors of the Christian scriptures, I have no problem noting all the errors of the denialists, too.

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  7. Ben,

    Athanasius is not the first to make a list of the books in the canon of the Bible.

  8. Origen of Alexandria wrote (before 254 C.E.) as quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea (before 340 C.E).:

    "It should be stated that the canonical books, as the Hebrews have handed them down, are twenty-two, corresponding with the number of their letters." "The twenty-two books of the Hebrews are the following: That which is called by us Genesis, but by the Hebrews, from the beginning of the book, Breshith, which means 'in the beginning'; Exodus, Welesmoth, that is, 'these are the names'; Leviticus, Wikra, 'and he called'; Numbers, Ammesphekodeim; Deuteronomy, Eleaddebareim 'these are the words'; Joshua the son of Nun, Josoue ben Noun; Judges and Ruth, among them in one book, Saphateim; the first and second of Kings, among them one, Samoel, that is, 'the called of God'; the third and fourth of Kings in one, Wammelch David, that is, 'the kingdom of David'; of the Chronicles, the first and second in one, Dabreiamein, that is, 'records of days'; Esdras, first and second 1 in one, Ezra, that is, 'an assistant'; the book of Psalms, Spharthelleim; the Proverbs of Solomon, Meloth; Ecclesiastes, Koelth; the Song of Songs, Sir Hassirim; Isaiah, Jessia; Jeremiah, with Lamentations and the Epistle 2 in one, Jeremia; Daniel, Daniel; Ezekiel, Jezekiel; Job, Job; Esther, Esther."

  9. Origen of Alexandria wrote (before 254 C.E.) as quoted by Eusebius of Caesarea (before 340 C.E).:

    "Among the four Gospels, which are the only indisputable ones in the Church of God under heaven, I have learned by tradition that the first written was that according to Matthew, who was once a tax collector but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who published it for those who from Judaism came to believe, composed as it was in the Hebrew language. Secondly, that according to Mark, who composed it in accordance with the instructions of Peter, who in the catholic epistle acknowledges him as a son, saying, 'She that is in Babylon, elect together with you, salutes you, and so does Mark, my son.' And thirdly, that according to Luke, for those who from the Gentiles came to believe. After them all, that according to John." "But he who was made sufficient to become a minister of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit, that is, Paul, who 'fully preached the gospel from Jerusalem and round about even unto Illyricum,' did not write to all the churches which he had instructed; and even to those to which he wrote he sent but a few lines. And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, left one acknowledged epistle; possibly also a second, but this is disputed. Why need I speak of him who leaned back on Jesus' breast, John, who has left behind one Gospel, though he confessed that he could write so many that even the world itself could not contain them? And he wrote also the Apocalypse, being ordered to keep silence and not to write the voices of the seven thunders. He has left also an epistle of a very few lines; and, it may be, a second and a third; for not all say that these are genuine but the two of them are not a hundred lines long." "That the character of the diction of the epistle entitled 'To the Hebrews' has not the apostle's rudeness in speech, who acknowledged himself to be rude in speech, that is, in style, but that the epistle is better Greek in the framing of its diction, will be admitted by everyone who is able to discern differences of style. But again, on the other hand, that the thoughts of the epistle are admirable, and not inferior to the acknowledged writings of the apostle, this also everyone who carefully examines the apostolic text will admit." Further on he adds: "If I gave my opinion, I should say that the thoughts are those of the apostle, but the style and composition belong to someone who remembered the apostle's teachings and wrote down at his leisure what had been said by his teacher. Therefore, if any church holds that this epistle is by Paul, let it be commended for this also. For it is not without reason that the men of old time have handed it down as Paul's. But who wrote the epistle, in truth, God knows. Yet the account that has reached us is twofold, some saying that Clement, bishop of the Romans, wrote the epistle, and others, that it was Luke, the one who wrote the Gospel and the Acts."

  10. In 2002 I was invited to be a guest on the Cygnus Atheist site - sort of a token believer appearance. Acharya had been a regular contributor and I was immediately hit with all the accusations that Horus, Mithra, Dionysius and even Buddha were born of a virgin, visited by shepherds and kings (?), laid in a manger, a prodigy at age 12,had 12 disciples, walked on water, were crucified, laid in a rich man's tomb and rose on the third day, etc. etc. etc. I asked Acharya or any of her followers to document these claims and she refused to comment; this to the dismay of her followers. I understand she died on December 25, the very day that she claimed the Bible said Jesus was born.

  11. The Bible does not claim that Jesus was born on December 25th.