Despite the foregoing criticisms, my sympathies often lie with Ehrman. The rigidity of the fundamentalism in which I grew up far exceeded anything he has described concerning his own experience. His inveighing against homogenizing the distinctive messages of biblical authors for the sake of historical harmony strikes in me a resonant chord. And at an early stage of my doctoral research on Matthew's use of the Old Testament, what increasingly seemed to count as misquotations—the usual suspects: reversing Micah's description of Bethlehem as small into a strong denial of that description (2:5–6), quoting Hosea's reference to Israel's exodus from Egypt as though it predicted the Messiah's stay in Egypt and exit from there (2:15), and so on—led me at one point to say aloud in the privacy of my study, "God, it's not looking good for you and your book." So why didn't I arrive at Ehrman's "dead end"? I have no explanation except to say that "by the grace of God" (the phrase Ehrman judges a textual corruption in Hebrews 2:8–9) I was spared a hardening of the categories through which Scripture is perceived. Or since they were already hard—unreasonably hard—I should rather say that the Spirit of God softened my categories so as to give them an elasticity that accommodates the human features of Scripture without excluding its ultimately divine origin. I pray that Ehrman and all others like him may enjoy such a softening.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Bob Gundry of Westmont College reviews Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus over at Books and Culture (Sept-Oct 2006). The article is entitled: "Death by hardening of the categories". The article includes an interesting postscript which I reproduce here:
Posted by Michael F. Bird at 4:01 pm