Who Wrote the Bible, Bart D. Ehrman?

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.

About Scott J Shifferd

Minister, church of Christ in Jacksonville, FL. Husband and father of four. Email: ScottJon82[at]yahoo.com
This entry was posted in Bible, Church of Christ and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Who Wrote the Bible, Bart D. Ehrman?

  1. Pingback: The Astounding Origin of the Christian Bible | Seeing God's Breath

  2. Not Likely says:

    “An older gentleman in Rome” doesn’t do much to tell me who Clement was. Again, for the layperson, a bit of background might be nice. Perhaps the subject is too deep to touch on in your article for those unfamiliar with him, at that point, a reference would be nice. Further, I have no idea what temple was destroyed in 70AD or why that’s significant… again, that may be too deep a subject to deal with here.

    My intent wasn’t to get into a debate about the authenticity of 2 Peter, as I’ve said. I’m fairly unfamiliar with the field and seeking more information. My initial bullet-points were meant as criticisms of your writing style/presentation (hopefully constructively) and with the possible exception of (b) they stand.

    To understand the Ehrman article, I needed essentially no Biblical background, you site minutiae that requires significant context and explanation to understand. Without this context, you’re unlikely to even have the appearance of a meaningful rebuttal to those unfamiliar.

    You hand-wave away a what you consider to being a harsh criticism with an argument that defies logic and is immediately demonstrable as false. Your primary detail in support of your argument (Clement 23:3) you don’t even quote the part where he specifically references 2 Peter by name. I have (since this discussion) looked up some of the “evidence” that scholars see in refuting the authorship of 2 Peter, and you don’t address any of it. Ehrman did a poor job in this as well giving no indication why it was believed a fake, but it seemed more of an aside to a greater point in his article than the focus that you took.

    And last, while I wouldn’t expect you to be impartial (you’re defending your beliefs) I would expect you to be consistent and not claim impartiality. Your concluding paragraph adds nothing and actually detracts from the rest of the article.


    • Whether apparent or not, I appreciate your honesty. I will further consider your points.

      I noted Clement 23:3 for quoting Peter rather than mentioning him, because the quote carries weight of witnesses greater than a man who wrote on letter and could have wrote another. Yes, I’m very aware of other “evidence”. As you put in quotation “evidence”, there just isn’t any. Should we take time to refute speculation? Should every husband defend himself in regards to how many times he beats his wife a weak? It’s not just, fair, or reasonable to address such slander directed to anyone. I do address the unjust speculation again 2 Peter. Even reading the 4th c. historian, Eusebius, those doubts then smacked of unjustified doubt.

      If I reach a conclusion impartially and honestly, am I then bias, prejudice, and partial until most others agree? I just don’t think so.


  3. a) You’d know who Clement was if you read the article, “Yet, doubt is settled by the witness of an overseeing elder in a congregation in Rome named Clement, who referred to 2 Peter 3:4 as “the scripture” in his letter to the Corinthians (Clement 23:3). Clement wrote His letter before the destruction of the temple in 70 AD (Clement 41:2). Clearly, Clement bears witness with existence and character of the letter of 2 Peter that 2 Peter is authentic.” Before 70 AD again shows this writing to have been written in the 1st century near the completion of the New Testament.

    c) Listen. I know that many people doubt 2 Peter, and yet I wrote this because it is without evidence. It is purely speculation to reject 2 Peter. It doesn’t matter who does it. The fact that Clement of Rom quotes from 2 Peter proves its existence. The internal evidence simply from reading 2 Peter prove it to be written by the writer of 1 Peter.

    The name of the author attributed to the book proves its authorship. You are saying what I’m saying. The exception here is with how the Bible is treated as compared to other texts.

    You are right that “when the possibility for a text being written (or a portrait, or an invention, etc) by the attributed author is questionable, then forgery is suspected”. My point is exactly that there is no reason to question or suspect 2 Peter of forgery and to presume such is the exact definition of prejudice. Yet, if questioned Shakespear, because his writings offended me then I’d be prejudice. Anyone who questions Shakespear without evidence is corrupt of reason and simple honesty.

    d) No that is not prejudice to know my own intentions for writing this article. There is no reason to question 2 Peter.


  4. Not Likely says:

    Having just discovered these discussions (lectures and books by Ehrman) I’ve begun seeking out a good discussion by someone with an opposing viewpoint so as not to be coerced by a single side. This article does not fit that category…
    a) it doesn’t appeal to the layperson (myself) with very limited knowledge
    b) rather than focusing on historical texts and addressing specific points, it addresses broad themes with minutiae-laden responses… it’s hard to correlate the original point with the offered counter-point. Keep it 1:1
    c) It starts with a premise that belies ignorance and/or extreme prejudice. “names attributed to written works are universally admitted to be rational and conclusive evidence of authorship.” The article discusses contention of the authorship… if they were universally accepted, the article would not exist.
    d) It concludes with a statement accusing Ehrman of prejudice, thus invalidating his ability for impartiality while simultaneously demonstrating prejudice at least as extreme.

    I was looking for historical textual analysis as a counter-point to Ehrman’s lectures and writings. I still am. The biggest problem here is that the Sheffield lets emotion overwhelm him and doesn’t take the time to appeal to anyone but people who already agree with and understand him.


    • Are you saying that I should consider this position of prejudice without prejudice or bias or should I be prejudice against prejudice? Ehrman’s position is one of speculation. The point of this article was to show his lack of evidence and again to refer to the primary sources being the actual writings of the New Testament.

      In response to your charges:
      a) This article is a rebuttal to Ehrman’s bias presumptions.
      b) The New Testament is the historical text. Reliable historical texts are proved by primary sources rather than the title “history” on a book filled with conjecture. My point was not to correlate 1:1, but to show the underlying presumptions because Ehrman has no evidence or logical premise for his assertions.
      c) You make no sense here. Named authors are recognized as being authors unless there is evidence otherwise. Ehrman has none. Therefore, he contradicts this fair approach to authorship and brings charges without witnesses. You make my point again that authorship is evidence and anyone accusing otherwise should have evidence to present. Attributed authors is universally admitted to affirm authorship and yet not respected in regards toward the New Testament, which is the point of this article. Therefore, the evidence still stands via the attributed names. This article exists because Ehrman would only in prejudice contradict the authorship of the New Testament when he would not do this toward any other text without evidence.
      d) You charge prejudice without any evidence, not one source. My heart is the primary source that I wrote this from an impartial and completely honest position.

      The historical sources begin with the primary sources, the New Testament, and then to witnesses of the early texts from Clement to Eusebius. The witnesses are abundant in proving authorship of the New Testament to be authentic. Yet, only two sources are needed to prove authorship, which brings us back to the primary sources of the New Testament before going further.

      You would do well to understand the need for two or more primary sources to prove your points, history, legal cases, journal articles, and such comments. Two or more primary sources has always been the maxim of proof (examined by its own consistency of sources). Otherwise, your own words would also be assertions and baseless accusations.


      • Not Likely says:

        I’ll try to clarify.

        a) I don’t have a foundation in Biblical knowledge. Saying “Clement agreed before 70AD” means nothing to me. I don’t know who Clement was or what the significance of 70AD is. You appear to be disputing a point about the origin of 2 Peter, but what point?

        b) Perhaps this was a bit misguided criticism which really falls in the same realm as (a), it isn’t completely clear what you’re addressing in terms of the original article you rebut.

        c) I have to disagree with your claim here. You go on to say “Attributed named authors is universally admitted to affirm authorship” which is simply untrue. Some quick searching shows that even bible.org tells us “The rejection of Peter as the writer of 2 Peter is by far the most common opinion today. In fact, the view of the pseudonymity of the epistle is almost universal”. Directly contradicting your assertion that attributed authorship is universally sufficient to prove actual authorship. The logical fallacy your making is called “Absence of Evidence.” There may not be sufficient evidence to support EITHER the claim that he’s the author or the claim that he’s not. Using absolutes like “universal” are why I said it belies either ignorance (misunderstanding of the term) or prejudice (ignoring the term’s inapplicability).

        History is full of suspicions of forgery based on reasonable evidence by analysis… when the possibility for a text being written (or a portrait, or an invention, etc) by the attributed author is questionable, then forgery is suspected, you say this is unique to NT criticism which again, belies the same ignorance or bias. Even Shakespeare, possibly our most famous poet/playwright, is not above this questioning.

        d) “Your heart is the primary source.” That’s pretty much exactly what prejudice means. Fine, accuse Ehrman of prejudice, his article could certainly use better references or explanations of his conclusions. It detracts from your article to make the accusation while doing it yourself.


  5. Pingback: Harold Camping and Bart Ehrman | The Good News

  6. Pingback: Camping and Bart Ehrman « Papa Pounders (Jud Lindsay)

  7. Pingback: Michael Licona on Bart Ehrman | The Good News

  8. Andre says:

    It seems to be a hallmark of those opposed to the Bible and Christianity that many of their arguments are based on lies. So it is with those supporting evolution and so it seems with Ehrman.


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