Monday, January 05, 2009

Peter Williams Debates Bart Ehrman On British Radio

Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina and Peter J Williams of Tyndale House, Cambridge recently appeared on the radio programme "Unbelievable?" hosted by Justin Brierly on Premier Christian radio.

They discussed Bart's best-selling book Misquoting Jesus (reviewed here) and whether the textual variation and transmission of the New Testament Documents is as bad as the book makes out. They also discussed what impact this has for a Christan view of the Bible's authority.

You can listen back to it online in the programme archive at Alternatively you can click the "download the podcast" option to get the MP3 or subscribe in itunes.


  1. Interesting "debate". Notable for its calm tone and equal time given to both presenters. Well done to Pete.

  2. Pete is back at Cambridge?
    Did he ever get papyrus to grow in Aberdeen?

  3. Yes, very excellent job, Pete.

  4. Alas, I found it hard to grow papyrus in Aberdeen.

  5. Dr. Williams, I enjoyed your partaking on the talk show. Can you clarify one thing to me, please, though? If I understand your position correctly you claim that one does not necessarily need the faultless material Scripture in order to articulate the doctrine of inerrancy, for the Scripture is first and foremost immaterial and its truthfulness stems out of the truthful/inerrant/etc character of God more than anything else. Correct me if I am wrong. Having said this, how is one to understand the character of God (doctrinally not experientially per se) apart from the Word He inspired, which in our case needs to be material for we have no other way to comprehend it? I don't want to play the devil's advocate just because, but this is an issue to wrestle with, is it not?

  6. I am late to the party, but didn't listen to the podcast until last night. One point that might have been worth making; Ehrman's extremely negative conclusions concerning the state of the NT text are not shared by his colleagues in the NT Textual Criticism fraternity. He is an outsider, big time, and his views only sound good to his intended audience, those folks who know next to nothing about the field of NT Text Criticism. Anyone who has taken the effort to look to look into the question knows that the NT Text is far more solid than any other extant ancient greek text. This question was briefly mentioned, but it could have been used to hammer Ehrman a little more. His position makes the others in his field appear to be failures at their main task and the are not failures.

  7. Again.

    Ehrman missed an opportunity after PJW's stressing that we haven't lost anything in the NT text. That would have been an opening to bring up the issue of the ending of Mark where it does appear that we have lost something.

  8. CSB,
    I do not think in any way that it is right to maintain that Ehrman is an outsider. He has done a lot of serious work in TC and held distinguished positions within TC (e.g. editorships, chair of North American IGNTP committee) which few obtain.

    Of course, his views of deliberate change by scribes to the NT text are close to one end of a spectrum of views on the subject.

    The reason he didn't challenge me on the end of Mark is that he has published arguing that it ends at 16:8, something of which I was aware when I made my provocative remark about it not being possible to prove that anything of the NT has been lost.