Evangelical Textual Criticism

Monday, September 25, 2006

Interview with Bart Ehrman

Editorial introduction
Prof. Bart D. Ehrman needs no introduction to this forum as his publications and especially his best-seller Misquoting Jesus have aroused considerable interest on this blog. Nor does it really need to be said that the perspective from which this blog operates and Prof. Ehrman’s own views differ somewhat. He describes himself as a ‘happy agnostic’. However, it is to be hoped that his participation here will lead to some clarification of positions and lead to more fruitful discussion in the future. Owing to the busy nature of Prof. Ehrman’s schedule he has been invited on the understanding that he should not be expected to answer questions placed in comments subsequent to this interview.

PJW: So, Prof. Ehrman, what do you think is the best thing about being a New Testament textual critic?
BDE: When I started working seriously in textual criticism twenty-five years or so ago, the field was not at all what it is today. The vast majority of textual critics were technicians who were experts in many of the demanding technical aspects of the discipline. But they had no interest or ability in seeing or explaining how their studies related to broader fields within biblical or religious studies. After doing my dissertation I started realizing that it was impossible to do serious text-critical work without relating that work to such fields as NT exegesis, the social history of early Christianity, the development of early Christian doctrine, to such questions as orthodoxy and heresy, Christian apologia, the role of women in the early church, the rise of Christian anti-Judaism, and so on. Not only were these other fields important for understanding the transmission of the text of the NT, the textual data known almost uniquely by textual scholars were important for seeing developments in these other fields. For me, the most exciting thing about being a textual critic over the past 15-20 years has been seeing how textual criticism has moved beyond its myopic concerns of collating manuscripts and trying to determine some kind of “original” text to situating itself in the broader fields of discourse that concern an enormous range of scholars of Christian antiquity. Textual critics are uniquely situated to contribute to these larger concerns, meaning that now, finally, the work textual critics do can be seen as widely important and relevant, not simply of relevance to textual technicians.

PJW: What do you see as your most important contribution to scholarship?
BDE: I think my early work on methods of manuscript classification that I developed in my work on the Gospel Text of Didymus the Blind continues to have a significant role to play. But my most important contribution, I think, was in my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, where I tried to show the symbiotic relationship between the emerging textual tradition of the NT and the conflicts raging in the early Christian centuries between proto-orthodox Christians and “heretics.”

PJW: Amongst the various books that you have written do you have any favourites?
BDE: They are like my children. I love them all! But I have to confess a particular tug at my heartstrings for Orthodox Corruption (as a serious scholarly book) and Lost Christianities (as a popular book). (I should note: I try to alternate between writing serious books for scholars and popular books for the Barnes and Noble crowd – and I think one of my contributions has been to show that a scholar can do both, without compromising scholarly integrity).

PJW: You’re rather prolific as a writer. How many hours a day do you work and how long does it take you to write a book like Misquoting Jesus?
BDE: Well, it’s very hard to say how long it takes to write a book. In one sense, Misquoting Jesus was the result of 25 years of study. In another sense, it took me five or six months of additional reading to get ready to write it. The writing itself goes very fast. I’m an intense, focused writer. I can crank out 30-35 pages on a word processor in about six hours. But then I definitely need to take a break and get a work-out!

PJW: What is it, do you think, that makes Misquoting Jesus such a success as a book?
BDE: To my knowledge, it’s the first time anyone has tried to make the recondite field of textual criticism accessible to an audience that knows nothing (NOTHING) about the field. People reading the book often don’t know that the NT was written in Greek, they don’t know what a manuscript is, they don’t realize that we don’t have the original writings of the NT, etc. I think the reason no one has tried to write a book like this before is because it is awfully difficult. How do you explain these things in a way that is true to scholarship, on the one hand, but interesting to a complete non-expert on the other? I decided early on that the only way to do it was to tell lots of stories and anecdotes, to keep the writing lively, to avoid all technical discussions, to show what really mattered about this field, to stress the very most interesting aspects of it. I know I’ve gotten in trouble for this – especially among textual critics who would prefer to talk technical language to one another rather than reach out to a broader audience (and also among scholars who aren’t textual critics but who feel like I went too far in making the field interesting). To them all I would say is that if there is a better way to write a book like this – they should do it!

PJW: How would you respond to the suggestion that Misquoting Jesus only engages with popular notions of the inspiration of scripture? After all many Christians down history have believed in verbal inspiration and at the same time that they did not have copies that exactly reproduced the inspired words.
BDE: This book is not about inspiration. In it I do talk about my own former views about the authority of scripture, but I don’t ever make any statements (that I recall!) in which I try to lay out a scholarly view of inspiration – I’m not trying to teach a doctrine of inspiration! I begin the book (and end it) with comments about my own spiritual journey away from a view of Scripture that was taught in the evangelical circles I was associated with (I never claim that this was the only view of inspiration in evangelical circles, or other Christian circles; I simply refer to it as the view in the circles I was associated with): the view of “verbal plenary inspiration” (the Bible is inspired completely, in all of its very words).

I begin with this autobiographical note in order to show what struck me as the deeper significance of what I came to understand the more I explored the manuscript tradition of the NT. We don’t have the original texts of the NT; we all knew this, of course, already while I was at Moody Bible Institute: that’s why we talked about the inspiration of the autographs. But I came to see that the absence of the originals, and our inability in places to know for certain what was in the originals, rendered the claim that the original texts were inspired more or less irrelevant. What good does it do to say these original texts were inspired if we don’t have them??

For some people this is no problem, and if so – well, what can I say? Most non-evangelicals realize that it is in fact a problem. But if it’s not for someone else, who is an evangelical, well, I think maybe that person and I look at the world differently! (By the way, in direct response to the question: I don’t mean to deal “only” with “popular” notions of inspiration. I deal with one form of the notion – the one that I, and other evangelicals that I knew, used to have. But I must say that this way of putting the question also strikes me as odd: since this book is meant for a popular audience, why would I deal with a view of inspiration that is not popular?? In any event, I’m not making any universal claims about inspiration; I’m simply saying why I can personally no longer subscribe to the evangelical views that I once held.)

PJW: You wrote: ‘The more I studied the manuscript tradition of the New Testament, the more I realized just how radically the text had been altered over the years at the hands of scribes, who were not only conserving scripture but also changing it.’ (Misquoting Jesus, p. 207). Do you think the same could be said relative to the textual transmission of Classical literature?
BDE: I’m not quite sure what the question is after: is it asking whether I realize that other texts besides the NT were changed in the process or transmission? Uh, I am a scholar, not an idiot!

There is an interesting issue, of course, of whether classical literature was changed as much as the NT was. I don’t know the answer: we don’t have anything like the manuscript tradition for the classics (even Homer!) that we have for the NT.

Another interesting aspect of the question is that the copying practices of classics and sacred Scripture may have been different. Kim Haines-Eitzen has made a compelling case that Scripture in the early centuries of the church was principally being copied by scribes who wanted to use the copies themselves, whereas the classics in this period were copied by scribes for the use of other people. That no doubt affected the process of transmission of scripture (it is the reason, within the NT textual tradition, that harmonization is so prevalent, as are the elimination of apparent inconcinnities and errors, etc.)

But maybe I’ve misunderstood the question!

PJW: Do you think that anyone might ever come away from reading Misquoting Jesus with the impression that the state of the New Testament text is worse than it really is?
BDE: Yes I think this is a real danger, and it is the aspect of the book that has apparently upset our modern day apologists who are concerned to make sure that no one thinks anything negative about the holy Bible. On the other hand, if people misread my book – I can’t really control that very well. Maybe ironically, this could show the fallacy of the view also held widely among evangelicals (at least the ones I know), that the intention of an author dictates the meaning of a text (since my intentions seem to have had little effect on how some people read my text).

My book is about how the NT got changed by the scribes, and here I insist that there are certain things that can be stated as factually true. I try to state these things as clearly as I can in the book. There are over 5000 Greek mss of the NT. These all differ from one another. The differences number in the hundreds of thousands. The vast majority of these differences are completely immaterial and insignificant and don’t matter for much of anything. But some of the differences are very significant and can change the meaning of a passage or even of an entire book. Is there any textual critic who can say that these are not facts?

Still, I know that some evangelicals have raised objections to the book (oddly enough, I don’t know of serious objections raised by non-evangelicals. Or have I missed something? If only evangelicals are concerned, is that because only evangelicals care? Or is it because only they are threatened? If threatened – threatened by what exactly??). Many of the objectors have complained that readers of the book may not read those several strongly worded passages where I emphasize that MOST of the changes don’t matter much, and that they will instead notice only the passages where I discuss significant changes. To this kind of objection I really don’t know what to say. If people can’t read what I say – well, what can I say??

PJW: How do you view fellow textual critics who are evangelicals?
BDE: Hey, some of my best friends are evangelicals! I’ve published books with Michael Holmes and Gordon Fee, and in the guild, there are very very few textual critics of the NT who are not evangelicals! What do I think about them? Well, I like most of them! What do I think about their views? Well, I think their theology is wrong and I personally find their views untenable. And they find my views untenable. Isn’t scholarship great?!

PJW: What are your medium or long-term publication goals?
BDE: Right now I’m working on an edition of the apocryphal Gospels: original text on one side of the page (Greek/Latin/Coptic) with fresh facing page translations. It’s a lot of work and is meant, obviously for scholars (it’s a “Loeb-like” edition, but it will be done by Oxford, rather than Loeb). I’m doing it with my colleague Zlatko Plese, a brilliant classicist and Coptologist.

I have a whole list of other books I’ll be working on in the next couple of years, some of them scholarly (a commentary on some second-century apocryphal Gospels for the Hermeneia Commentary series) and some of them popular (a discussion of biblical traditions that deal with the problem of suffering). I like doing a range of things in my publications, for a range of audiences, and plan to continue full hilt for the time being.

PJW: Thank you Prof. Ehrman for taking time to respond to these questions
BDE: My pleasure!

Bart Ehrman's homepage,
Evangelical textual criticism roundup on Misquoting Jesus,
Williams' review of Misquoting Jesus.


  1. Thanks for doing this, and thanks to Bart Ehrman for agreeing to do it.

  2. Ever learning...and still unable to make a determination. Pity. Another confused textcritic.

    Westcott and Hort had no problems ultimately in their problem solving or how their textcritical labors impacted other disciplines. Why is it Dr. Ehrman (an others)do not?

    There is a final judgement. Were is this happy agnostic (happy with I don't know - not with the Latin agnosco) going to fit in? Read the Gospels lately?

  3. BDE: "oddly enough, I don’t know of serious objections raised by non-evangelicals. Or have I missed something? If only evangelicals are concerned, is that because only evangelicals care? Or is it because only they are threatened? If threatened – threatened by what exactly??"

    Dr. Ehrman, whether it was your intention or not, Misquoting Jesus reads as a rather tendentious work with an axe to grind against a high view of Scripture. It is not only evangelicals who come away with a distinct impression of this tendenz. Non-evangelical lay readers of the book have come away with the same impression. See, for example, Scott Adam's blog:
    or the Washington Post's review:

    As you say, the book is designed for readers who know nothing about NT TC. But, while the book tells of your own journey away from fundamentalism in light of the issues it raises, it doesn't really leave the reader with an awareness that the same issues have been dealt with at length by conservatives of all levels of scholarship who have a variety of ways of reconciling the phenomena of the manuscripts with their faith. So a reader who comes to this book really knowing nothing of the subject could quite easily be led to think that the practical impact of those phenomena will necessarily weaken the veracity of the New Testament. When I was first introduced to the subject of NT manuscripts by Josh McDowell's books as a highschooler, I came away thinking that the practical impact of the manuscript evidence was precisely the opposite of what people initiated to the subject by your book will conclude. That's because his books, like Misquoting Jesus, are tendentious.

    I am not at all surprised to find that the people who appraise Josh McDowell's books negatively are generally nonchristians. Similarly, I find it quite natural that the people most interested in refuting Misquoting Jesus are the same people who adhere to the views most lay readers of the book see as being under attack.

  4. Thanks for this most intriguing interview. 30-35 pages in six hours!? Good grief!

  5. Peter,
    You should ask Ehrman to respond to articles and reviews written in the latest issue of JETS.

  6. Michael,
    There are probably many things that I should have asked, but the more questions you ask the more time you are asking people to commit.

    BTW, I'm intrigued by your fish. You actually manage to get the head facing left to fit with the writing. I know early fish point both ways (see here). Are there any early visual images with the writing too? I had assumed that the tail formed the χ.

  7. Why is this blog so complicit with the Bart Ehrman publicity machine?

  8. I doubt whether many will hear of Bart Ehrman through this blog who wouldn't have heard of him otherwise.

    However, I believe that the answers to the questions revealed a number of things that it is interesting to observe. I hope there will be some discussion on them.

  9. anonymous -

    why do you want to stay anonymous?

  10. I've no problem with people wanting to stay anonymous. After all, scholars of the calibre of Simon Gathercole - the brightest young NT scholar in the world - can be a bit intimidating to those who don't know that they're really friendly deep down.

    However, if there were a widespread feeling amongst members of the blog that anonymity should not be allowed then I have the facility to disallow this. Yet this would still allow pseudonymity. And anonymity is surely more biblical than pseudonymity. :-)

  11. Hmm. A few thoughts.

    Kirsopp Lake wrote (p. 16, Lake’s “Text of the NT”) that “The perfect textual critic will have to be an expert palaeographer and the possessor of a complete knowledge of all the bypaths of Church history.” It’s no news that NTTC and the study of church history overlap, or that textual data and historical data complement one another. What IS news is how Dr. Ehrman attempts to re-define NTTC as a branch of historical research. He calls the goal of reconstructing the original text a “myopic” concern. However, the reconstruction of the original text is and ought to be THE concern, THE goal, of New Testament textual criticism. Reconstructing transmission-history is an important part of that task, but for the text-critic it’s relevant as a step toward THE goal, not as a separate goal. When it’s a separate goal, a separate discipline is entered.

    “Misquoting Jesus” was not the first book of its kind, unless one defines “well-marketed sensationalistic introduction to textual criticism for people who will never do any textual criticism” as a unique kind of book. J. Harold Greenlee’s “Scribes, Scrolls, & Scripture” was very, very much the sort of book that “Misquoting Jesus” was -- right down to the use of “abundanceonthetable” to illustrate continuous-script writing (see Greenlee, p. 62).

    While inspiration was not the main subject of “Misquoting Jesus,” it was a significant sub-topic. Dr. Ehrman told his readers that a God who took the trouble to inspire the production of Scripture should have assured that the words of Scripture be preserved; a failure to divinely preserve Scripture must imply a failure to divinely inspire the Scripture in the first place. This was, if not the climactic pronouncement of the book, one of its major points. Dr. Ehrman did not try to develop a thesis, but he certainly made a sustained and obvious antithesis.

    Dr. Ehrman still seems not to differentiate between having the original papyrus and ink, and having the original message that was communicated by the original papyrus and ink. He asked in the interview, as he did in his book, “What good does it do to say these original texts were inspired if we don’t have them?” First of all, we DO have them. Where difficult variants are concerned, we have them along with competing alternate readings. How many variants does Dr. Ehrman think there are in which (a) the original text cannot be reasonably determined via textual criticism and (b) there is an appreciable difference of meaning between the variants? 40? 160? 400? It’s a very thin sliver of the Scripture-pie. The question ought to be more like this: “What good does it do to say that these original texts were inspired if we can only confidently eliminate 99.9% of the non-original variants from consideration?”

    The premise that the authors of Scripture produced exactly what God wanted them to produce, when combined with the premise that God is a God of truth, implies that Scripture is a truthful and authoritative message from God. As an article of faith, taken on faith, this means that what disagrees with Scripture is not a truthful and authoritative message from God. Even in cases where we face competing, evenly supported variants, and are thus unsure of exactly what the divinely inspired words are, there is still an obvious limit as to what they could possibly be. Thus even a reconstructed New Testament text with 40, or 160, or 400 significant points of instability is capable of communicating God’s truthful and authoritative message.

    Dr. Ehrman made a reference to “the fallacy of the view … that the intention of the author dictates the meaning of a text.” That’s no fallacy. There may be more to the significance of a passage than the author’s intended meaning, but the task of seeking to discern what the author was trying to communcate remains a vital exegetical step. Without this premise, there’s hardly any point to having a text in the first place; it becomes an inkblot.

    Dr. Ehrman said, “I insist that there are certain things that can be stated as factually true. I try to state these things as clearly as I can in the book.” Where is the clarity in an estimate of variants with a range of 200,000???

    Dr. Ehrman said, “Some of the differences are very significant and can change the meaning of a passage or even of an entire book. Is there any textual critic who can say that these are not facts?” Some differences are very significant, and some variants can change the meaning of a passage, sure. But what variants change the meaning of an entire book? If one consistently adopted an array of poorly attested variants throughout a book, the meaning of the book could change, but that would not be sound textual criticism. The recovery of more of the original text of any book will not significantly change the message of that book from the message communicated by the text with its points of instability.

    Yours in Christ,

    James Snapp, Jr.
    Curtisville Christian Church
    Indiana (USA)

  12. Congrats to Dr. Williams for bringing another insightful interview to the blog.

  13. sjgathers asked: "why do you want to stay anonymous?"

    Firstly, there is more than one of us even in the comments here (that could be where some sort of pseudonym would be preferable - in distinguishing between the different anonymice).
    Secondly, I don't really want to stay anonymous, just be anonymous occasionally.
    Thirdly, it seemed like a reasonable question to ask given the space this blog has handed over to marketing Ehrman's books.
    Fourthly, you know who I am.

  14. maurice a robinson7:07 pm, September 28, 2006

    Anon: "Fourthly, you know who I am."

    Well, perhaps some people might, but others of us remain in the dark (not that we particularly care, however).

    The worst problem I see with this is that Anon seems to admit that he also posts here under a known name ("I don't really want to stay anonymous, just be anonymous occasionally").

    So do the rest of us now have to declare that we are not the "Anon" in question, merely to avoid suspicion on that score?

    Sounds like the guessing games currently being practiced on the so-called Alt-tc-list for lack of anything more substantial to discuss...

    But if such must be the case, I cheerfully will acknowledge: I am not the anonymous poster, nor do I intend to post anything anonymously on this blogsite.

    There. I said it. Now everyone can go look for someone else. :-)

  15. No, I really have no idea who you (sing. or pl.?) are, anonymous! My reason for raising the issue is that I do have a concern with someone or ones wanting to throw out complaints or seeking to call others to account without saying who they are. Such comments, in my opinion, lack any moral authority when they are impersonal.

  16. Such comments only the moral authority of the force of the comment itself have.

  17. "I am not at all surprised to find that the people who appraise Josh McDowell's books negatively are generally nonchristians."

    Then perhaps I can surprise you when I say that I am a believer and follower of Christ and the one book by McDowell that I read was absolutely horrid. Tendentious is a good word for it, along with presuppositional propaganda, insipid, blind and relying heavily on unsupported generalizations.

    Ehrman's book on corruption in the new testament text looks interesting. Anyone read it?

  18. Thanks for the article. I found this statement by Ehrman quite encouraging: "there are very very few textual critics of the NT who are not evangelicals!"

    At one time I was poisoned by a moderate form of KJV onlyism to distrust textual criticism period. It is exciting to hear from a significant non-evangelical TC that most TCs are evangelical these days.

    Incidentally, you guys might be interested that many KJV only people are excited about Ehrman's book. It proves their thesis that not having a collection of all the inspired words on one scroll widely available really makes inspiration irrelevant. An example of this kind of thinking can be found here. They assume that not being KJV only will ultimately lead everyone to abandon the faith like Ehrman.

    I am thankful for this blog and other great resources out there which show that textual criticism is no enemy to the faith.

    God bless you all richly in Christ Jesus,

    Bob Hayton
    of the King James Only Debate Resource Center

  19. Thanks, Bob. I think that Ehrman's statement about the number of evangelicals in TC is closer to the truth for the USA than for Europe where there are fewer evangelicals anyway.

  20. Just to clarify: the KJVO site to which Bob referred us classified Ehrman as a 'liberal'. It should be pointed out that a self-confessed agnostic cannot be a 'liberal theologian'. You can only be a 'liberal theologian' if you still see yourself as Christian.

  21. Slave of One,
    Of course many of us have read Orthodox Corruption. It is a well-written book—which does not mean that I'm persuaded by the examples he gives of it or the way he arrives at deciding what is the earliest form of the text.

  22. One can also be persuaded that Ehrman is right about a particular variant's originality but wrong about the proposed 'orthodox corruption' explanation for scribal motivation.

  23. Slaveofone:"Then perhaps I can surprise you when I say that I am a believer and follower of Christ and the one book by McDowell that I read was absolutely horrid."
    No, this doesn't surprise me either. His books, like Misquoting Jesus, are geared toward presenting a one-sided argument to a reader who is uninitiated to biblical and theological studies. I wouldn't read McDowell today either (though I would still recommend him to a high-schooler). And while I would agree with several of your characterizations, he's not a presuppositionalist. If he were he'd be better, not worse. But the other adjectives you listed (except horrid) all describe Ehrman's work perfectly.

    I agree with PJ about Orthodox Corruption. I would even go so far as to say that I could be persuaded to agree with him about the original reading of some variants AND agree that the changes were theologically motivated, and still have serious problems with the thesis of the book.

    His entire argument is based on a paradigm of early Christianity that imagines a wide variety of grossly divergent theologies from the very beginning without any one having a greater claim to being the true faith than any other; the doctirines that later came to be known as orthodox are only those that happened to be held by those who won the debates. This paradigm is pure assumption. There is no evidence for it. And if a Christian is to appeal to the earliest Christian texts for evidence, that evidence is excluded because the only reason those texts exist today is because the orthodox preserved and corrupted them. We are supposed to assume without evidence that there exists out there somewhere lost texts from heterodox communities that are just as old and as close to the historical Jesus' followers as are the NT and the Apostolic Fathers.

    The visual comparison of two models at this link gives a good illustration of why his paradigm is unacceptable for believers:
    It also gives us a good idea of how much is at stake for non-believing scholars of early Christianity. They must cling to the model that less adequately accomodates the evidence because the alternative is to believe in the resurrection.

    Make no mistake, religious commitments are at the bottom of both sides of this debate.

  24. eric - thank you very much for that link

  25. After reading this and other things by Ehrman and listening to some of his lectures it seems his general thesis is, we simply do not have the historical ground to be Christians. It appears to this writer that Ehrman has one view of the NT Text and another of ... everything else. One view of Church history and one of … all other history. He denies the accuracy of the NT but does not challenge any other classic text. I’m sure that the Greek Philosophers that were reintroduced to the west by the Arabs would fall short of Ehrmans criteria. He insinuates that other text may not have been meddled with as the NT was, this seems incomprehensible. Maybe all the Greek philosophical texts were rewritten by Muslims in order to reflect their world view. He also seems to operate from a predetermined negative position, he is not trying to find real answers, if there is a variant in the text he is not concerned with which might be correct, he just scraps all of it as “hopeless”, a word he loves to use. And his idea of what constitutes history and how we can even know history is quite baffling.

    I simply find almost anything I read or hear by him to be monotonous and banal. He had one idea say 25 years ago and now he simply warms it up every couple of years. And the reality is, this idea will enter the scrap heap of all other ideas and Christianity will move happily onward.

  26. I think I find Ehrman rather more stimulating a thinker than you evidently do.

    "he is not trying to find real answers"

    It it quite appropriate for us to form private opinions about the motivation of scholars. However, I think we should avoid attributing motivation in public scholarly discussion and focus on problems of argumentation.

  27. I thank Mr Bart Ehrman for writing the Misquoting Jesus though I find the title of the book anomalous since the issues dealt with are not contradicting what Jesus said but who he is and how the scribes changed the scriptures.

    I hope this work will strike a chord in the heart of pastors and clergy, especially those who will not answer the layman’s question but would rather we shut down our brain.

    I also hope Christians will see Misquoting Jesus as a work by a MERE man with all his personal prejudices and biases. A man who looked for Elohim in the pages of a book without living nor applied the power of Christ in his life. As a result when he came in collusion with genuine doubt about his faith, there was no personal testimony based on a single experience he had as a Christian to counter his doubts.

    As a Christian, I have always known that the bible is not error proof and I do have some doubts too, but having wielded the name of Jesus Christ in some situations ( I am an African with the reality of the power of the devil and the mighty of Elohim) in which I am absolutely convinced that nothing could have made it possible to overcome such situations but Christ. These personal testimonies always speak to my doubts, the devil can not steal this away from me.

    The Lord uses people to accomplish his purpose. Perhaps, Mr Ehrman was raised for this purpose not because the Lord hates him but it is a matter of which direction you exercise your VOLITION.

    The Lord will forever preserve those who are his. IT IS ALREADY A DONE DEED!

  28. It takes a lot of guts for Prof. Ehrman to make an honest change in life based on a critical view of the evidence, and lay it all out for public criticism.
    I was raised a Southern Baptist, and knew as early as 6, from Bible stories told to me by parents and other adults, that there was something not quite right; and unbelievable. Then when I was 10, and going to VBS, I did my own textual criticism, when I noticed that the miracles that God did in the Old Testament were different that the ones in the New Testament. By the time I was 18 and left home, I had been holding a grudge against Fundamentalist Christians for many years, and finally admitted not believing in Christianity altogether, thinking there was something wrong with me.
    Now, research, done by people like Prof. Ehrman, is showing that there is real academic substance to my feelings, and that I'm not crazy. And now I realize that there is a story behind the religious grip over western civilization for the past 1600 years that is diametrically opposed to what the most respected family members and community leaders have been teaching. Thank you, Prof. Ehrman, and all who are in this field. You are providing an extremely profound service.