Names attributed to written works are universally admitted as rational and conclusive evidence of authorship. The only reason to question authorship is due to opposing primary sources. However, critical scholars like Bart Ehrman question the New Testament Scriptures via the argument of silence. Where are the opposing sources? Historians, geographers, judges, and scholars have examined and tried the New Testament in this age and in the age of the New Testament.
Accusations of Lies
The early opponents and apostates of primitive Christianity never questioned the authors’ names attributed to these texts. However, Bart D. Ehrman does in his article, “Who Wrote the Bible and Why It Matters,” calling the writers of some of the New Testament writings “liars” as though the authors impersonated the Apostles. He said, “And here is the truth: Many of the books of the New Testament were written by people who lied about their identity, claiming to be a famous apostle — Peter, Paul or James — knowing full well they were someone else.”
Bart Ehrman and like opponents of the Bible rely on such prejudice assertions. Even the early opponents of Christianity recognized the Christian Scriptures like Celsus, Trypho, Lucian of Samosata, Porphyry of Tyre, Hierocles of the Bithynian Proconsul, Julian the Apostate, and Peregrinus Proteus.
Relying on “Liars”
Ehrman asserts, “But good Christian scholars of the Bible, including the top Protestant and Catholic scholars of America, will tell you that the Bible is full of lies, even if they refuse to use the term.” Why would they not use that term if it is true? Professor Ehrman is right about other critical scholars among these denominations believe that some of the attributed authors did not write the books of the New Testament. Because such experts exist, does that make them right? About these “lies,” Ehrman also reported, “Most modern scholars of the Bible shy away from these terms, and for understandable reasons, some having to do with their clientele.” Is deception an “understandable reason” to Ehrman?
Critical Scholars and Evangelical Scholars
Are the top scholars and “good Christian scholars” lying? If these are liars, why does Ehrman admit to relying on them? Professor Ehrman polarized these scholars of whom he does not agree saying, “And that’s what such writings are. Whoever wrote the New Testament book of 2 Peter claimed to be Peter. But scholars everywhere — except for our friends among the fundamentalists — will tell you that there is no way on God’s green earth that Peter wrote the book.” Does Ehrman mean the scholars everywhere except evangelicals? Ehrman is right that critical scholars doubt and evangelicals believe. Why does Ehrman not address evangelical scholars?
Early Christian Acceptance of 2 Peter’s Authorship
What evidence does Ehrman have that 2 Peter was not written by Peter? A few words from Origen in the third century and Eusebius in the fourth century speaking of the doubt of some Christians to accept 2 Peter, and yet early Christians did accept the book. Origen accepted 2 Peter and wrote a commentary on it. Even earlier in the mid-second century, Clement of Alexandria wrote a commentary on 2 Peter. In the late-second century, Irenaeus also noted 2 Peter among the Christian Scriptures. Is critical scholarship lacking in this area? Furthermore, 2 Peter includes unique and rare words only used by Peter in Acts and 1 Peter. [See “The Acceptance of 2 Peter’s Authorship.”]
No Fraud in 2 Peter
The evidence for 2 Peter is that the text does bear Peter’s name and the writing lacks guile and an agenda other than the author saying, “be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease” (2 Pet 1:15). The author of 2 Peter writes as an apostle unlike the fraudulent writings. Second Peter has no marks of a forgery. However, those who do not approve of the New Testament writings have prejudices to cast 2 Peter aside as it speaks of the apostles Paul, John, and Peter writing “Scripture” known and spread throughout the world.
The Canon of Scripture
On top of this, critics like Ehrman do not care to consider that the Scriptures formed in the first century under the apostles’ oversight. First Timothy include Jesus’s words from the Gospel of Luke (1 Tim 5:18; cf. Luke 10:7). The writer called Luke’s Gospel “Scripture” along with a quote from Deuteronomy 25:4. Such critics do not like the idea of “Every scripture being God’s breath” in 2 Timothy 3:16–17. This passage definitely includes the Gospel of Luke and other New Testament writings. Opponents of the New Testament do not like the idea of the Apostles oversaw the collection of Christian Scripture, because this strikes at the foundation of their assumptions that the New Testament was mostly an open collection that later Christians restricted in collection.
Critical Motives Exposed
Ehrman degrades the writer of 1 Timothy and rephrased his words. Ehrman does not appear to care about the writer’s reasoning, but rather to slant the writer’s words about the God-given right of men to lead, and he frames these passages against the equal value of women (Gen 1:27; Gal 3:27). Ehrman colors the Bible using the stigma of degrading women when he asserts, “Paul allegedly taught that women had to be silent, submissive and pregnant.” However, the writer of 1 Timothy instructs women to dress modestly as women of godliness and to do good works while being in peace (with all submission). The Greek word behind peace is often mistranslated “silence.” Paul used the same Greek word telling the men and all to “lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Tim 2:2). Was Paul telling everyone to shut up and not say a word for the rest of their lives? No, but Ehrman’s paraphrase implies such. Ehrman has a contradiction of interest with the virtue of submission, which is essential to primitive Christianity. Would he submit to his employer if she was a woman? Either Ehrman’s dishonesty or his prejudice is shown in this article. The apostle Paul wrote that Eve was saved by childbearing as the antecedent of “she” is Eve in 1 Timothy 2:15. Ehrman believes this means that women must be pregnant.
Rejecting the Early Opponents
The truth is that Bart Ehrman has taken his criticism to extremes even further than the Christian opponent and philosopher Celsus. Early in the third century while Celsus was writing his next book, Origen gave his defense of the Christian faith speaking about how Celsus could read for himself saying, “For it is not in any secret writings, perused only by a few wise men, but in such as are most widely diffused and most commonly known among the people, that these words are written” (7.37). Ehrman misses the wide availability of these writings and that Celsus does not question the names attributed to the books of the New Testament.
Ehrman would better consider himself when depicting,
It appears that some of the New Testament writers, such as the authors of 2 Peter, 1 Timothy and Ephesians, felt they were perfectly justified to lie in order to tell the truth. But we today can at least evaluate their claims and realize just how human, and fallible, they were. They were creatures of their time and place. And so too were their teachings, lies and all.
To this Christian, Bart Ehrman’s words are nothing short of ironic. Ehrman’s prejudice like all such prejudice disqualifies such critics from impartially and fairly examining the evidence.