Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Craig Evans Debates Bart Ehrman

About two weeks ago (yes, we're slow sometimes), there was a live debate hosted by First Family Church, Overland Park, KS, between Craig Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University, in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, Canada and Bart Ehrman, the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The debate evolved around seven questions:

1: Are the gospels historically reliable?

2: Do the gospels accurately preserve the teachings of Jesus Christ?

3: Do the gospels accurately preserve the activities of Jesus Christ?

4: Do the gospels contain eyewitness tradition?

5: Do archaeologists and historians use the gospels as sources?

6: Have the gospels been accurately preserved done through the centuries

7: Do scribal errors and textual variants significantly impact any teaching of Jesus or any important Christian teaching?

See a video of the debate here.

Or, listen to an audio recording here.

If you don't have time, you can read a (tendentious and humorous) summary of the arguments here.

Finally, a reflection: a local church hosting a debate between two New testament scholars would be something very unusual in Sweden. Local churches here seem to pay little attention to what the academy does (they should since it will affect them).


  1. That is not a debate. There was no interaction. Bart posed countless questions to Craig and not a one was ever addressed. It was just two different sets of answers to seven questions. They did not need to be in the same room.

  2. Ok. It was announced as and supposed to be a "debate". Maybe it was unfortunate for the debate that they had distributed seven questions ahead.

  3. I agree with Peter, and forgive me my bluntness, but at times I was thinking that neither scholar was really answering anything hoped for. It sounded more like a rehearsed play.

    Also, I felt (at times) that Bart's "tactics" to pose countless questions was a way not to answer the questions himself, but to make a new set of questions nobody answered, really.

  4. scott caulley4/15/2010 4:27 pm

    I was present for the debate Thursday eve. and for the conference that followed on Friday and Sat. The conference was for me the the more satisfying experience. Much of the "debate" can be fairly characterized as two scholars "talking past" each other. My favorite part of the weekend was during the conference Q&A on Sat.-- Larry Hurtado's clear-sighted answers to seemingly tendentious questions about the role of the Holy Spirit in textual cricitism, and about inerrancy.

  5. But what do you think about the idea of a church hosting this kind of discussion? Shouldn't textual critics, especially the Evengelical ones,also reach out to those who are in the churches to appreciate first hand the things textual critics do and devote their time with? I guess textual criticism should not just be the interests and concerns of the specialists, but also by those who use the NT.

  6. More information about the conference mentioned:

  7. I attended the second debate, held at the seminary, which I summarize here. The debate was disappointing, although I thought Evans successfully took the sting out of many Ehrman's assertions. As with most debates, everyone leaves the unpersuaded.