Bart Ehrman quote from an article- please help refute!


“For Mark, Jesus was adopted to be God’s son at his baptism. Before that, he was a mere mortal. For Luke, Jesus was conceived by God and so was literally God’s son, from the point of his conception. (In Luke Jesus did not exist prior to that conception to the virgin – his conception is when he came into existence). For John, Jesus was a pre-existent divine being – the Word of God who was both with God and was God at the beginning of all things – who became a human. Here he is not born of a virgin and he is not adopted by God at the baptism (neither event is narrated in John – and could not be, given, John’s Christology).“


The easy solution is that you shouldn’t be separating the Gospel’s and attaching false ideas. The Eternal Word existed before as God, and then at the Incarnation the human and Divine nature were made one in Jesus. At the Baptism it was a revelation of Jesus’s divinity to the public. I might be wrong on explaining how the hypostatic union works.


Yes, but how can you concretely argue that John just didn’t make up his claim that Jesus was God eternal.


I didn’t realize Ehrman had a chance to conduct interviews with the authors! Awesome!

Ehrman’s criticism also feels very “Bible Christian”-centric. While the Bible is crucial to the Catholic faith, we’re founded upon a Church and apostolic teachings, and we understand the Bible and the authors through that tradition and the Church.


These sort of things aren’t really provable.


Very true !!!


How do you argue Ehrman got it right? He’s a fraud.


Read “The Case for Jesus” by Brant Pitre." Dr. Pitre calls Ehrman out on his false interpretations.


I agree but just want a way to refute it concretely.


There’s a very simple argument to be made:

  1. Approach the Gospels as you would any other ancient text. They all speak of the same person, Jesus Christ, and record his words and deeds.

  2. Jesus Christ claimed, according to the evidence of the Gospels (again, assuming they are historical documents, and not talking about inspiration or anything like that), that he was God. He walked around claiming to be the Son of God, claiming the ability to forgive sins, and, worst of all as far as Jewish sensibilities were concerned, applying the Sacred Name of God (I AM) to himself. He would eventually be put to death for this. Consider Lewis’s “Lord, Liar, Lunatic” argument. Either Jesus was exactly who he claimed to be, or else he was a very, very bad man, or else he was crazy. But the evidence we have about his life does not bear out that he was evil–because no evil man ever did and said the kinds of things he did, and we should expect there to be a crack in the armor somewhere along the line if he were merely a man and evil at that. And the evidence does not bear out that he was crazy–for we find him to be too lucid and cogent a person, too in touch with human nature, too empathetic for human suffering. So that he’s God is at least within the realm of plausibility–what isn’t plausible is that he’s just a nice guy, and later on it was made up that he was God.

  3. The Gospels all record that Jesus rose from the dead, and there are many other documents, also found in the New Testament, as well as other sources, corroborating this. It would be easy enough to refute this if it were a lie, and yet if this is a lie, it’s a lie that has stood the test of the millennia, and a lie that many, many, many people have died for. His own followers died for it.

  4. Let’s consider for a moment that many people claimed to be the Messiah, and lots of people throughout history have even claimed to be God or to have some kind of divine power. There’s only one that’s ever been recorded in multiple historical witnesses as having risen from the dead.

  5. Just to put the icing on the cake, we see that one of the things that Jesus did was to establish a Church–we see this recorded in the documents left behind, and recounted as well in the activities of that Church after Jesus had left the earth. That Church was given authority to teach in his name. And that Church exercised that authority in declaring what was inspired Scripture. Ergo, what is contained in these historical documents is additionally worthy of belief.

For more, check this out:



Jesus called himself the Son of Man and the son of God. To the Jews that was the same as calling himself God. You have to read his statement in the context of the times. Was Jesus a liar?


While the synoptic Gospels are low Christology nothing points to the authors not believing Jesus was both divine and human.


Mr Ehrman is a once fundamental evangelical now atheist. Why would you need to refute anything he says? His own outlook is not going to be harmonious with the Faith. Best to simply pray for his conversion.


Bart is making unproven assumptions on all of these points. Just because Mark begins with Jesus baptismal story does not mean that he believed that Jesus became divine at his baptism. That’s just where he felt compelled to begin his gospel, primarily because to him, the good news starts with the promise in Isaiah was being fulfilled in Jesus. And, when you look at Isaiah, you see that the Lord mentioned in Mark 1:3 means YHWH. The fact of the matter is that Mark just doesn’t address the Christology of when Jesus became divine, he just proclaims that he IS divine. Bart is making a huge leap in logic to assume otherwise without evidence. But that is pretty much par for the course for him.

The same could be said at Luke. For Luke, the point is that Jesus birth is miraculous and that he shares in our humanity. Luke is addressing Gentiles who quite frankly rejected the notion that God could become man. So Luke emphasizes Jesus humanity because of the audience he is addressing. Again, Bart is arguing from silence since nowhere in the gospel does Luke refute the high Christology of John.

John though is addressing both Jews and Gentiles and is addressing the fact that the God who made all things condescended and came in the flesh, scandalous to both groups. John isn’t concerned about the birth narrative, he is writing well after the synoptic gospels, and this teaching is already out there. What he is doing is telling us the meaning of the incarnation.

In Bart’s eyes if the stories aren’t carbon copies of one another they can’t possibly be true. If they were carbon copies the first thing he would do is cry collusion. Makes you wonder if his kids call him a liar if he messes up the narration of bed time stories.


edward_george1’s post #10 response can’t be improved upon. And I do believe he is a priest in the Church.

If I may add one thing. Realize that each of the four gospels were written for a different audience. Mark for the Romans, Matthew for the Jews, Luke for the Greeks, and John for the emerging Church. The audience for each gospel was interested in certain aspects of the narrative of the life of Christ. The Romans, just the facts, no other detail needed; the Jews, the Jewish history and identity of Jesus; the Greeks were into philosophy, art, poetry and wanted to know all the details (why Luke has the expansive infancy narrative) and the emerging church was looking for its foundational principles on which to ground itself. (hence the great Chapter 6 Bread of Life Discourse)
If Mr. Ehrman is both a fundamentalist and subsequently an atheist, he makes the mistake of considering the four gospels as homogenous and thus to be aimed at one audience, discounting any historical aspects of the gospel. And he takes all the gospels and their writers out of context, offering his “analysis” based on his misguided understanding of the nature of the Bible and the milieu in which the gospels were written. Par for the course for a fundamentalist and typical for an atheist.

Someone said Ehrman is a fraud. I don’t know about fraud, but badly misguided and misinformed does fit.


Ehrman is confused the baptism passage in St. Mark. He sees it as the instant that Jesus “becomes divine” but is really the point in St. Mark’s Gospel when Jesus’s active Galilean ministry begins. Elsewhere in St. Mark’s Gospel, there are plenty of passages that support the eternal nature of Jesus and His equivalence with God, such as stilling the storm, forgiving sins (Mark 2), and his “I am” statement in chapter 14, just to name a few. Also, some of St. Paul’s letters, especially Philippians and Colossians, contain “high” Christology.


I’ve had the pleasure of taking several of Bart Ehrman’s courses. No, he isn’t a fraud. He is someone who looks at the subject of the Bible objectively.

You don’t have to agree with his views. But he does make you look at things in a new way. Whether it makes you change your own view or not is up to you.


Why refute him at all? I’ve read a lot of his books, and I probably agree with 95%+ of what he says. I don’t think there is any doubt that the concept of Jesus as divine evolved over time. Ehrman wrote a very good book about it.

Where Ehrman goes wrong (in my opinion) is 1) taking the Bible too literally and 2) thinking God is some sort of active, tinkering God that is constantly intervening in everyone’s business. Take those two things away and he is actually quite Catholic in his thinking.

Some of Ehrman’s passages–for example when he talks about revelation and inspiration–are actually paraphrases of the Catholic catechism.

Ehrman responds to e-mails, by the way. He’s responded to mine. So if you have a legitimate point to make or a question that’s not simply baiting him, he will reply.


Hodos has given an excellent response, addressing much of the substance quite well.

Ehrman looks like he is repeating Raymond Brown’s description of the Christologies of the gospels. What is different are the addition of negatives:

These are the parts that need refuting, or more refining perhaps. The point in Mark is that God came into the world and into our lives. What came before is not important to the story he has to tell, so he does not talk about it. Silence is not the same as denying immortality.
On Luke, he is almost completely right. Jesus, in his humanity, did not exist prior to his annunciation. But his coming is announced, he is not conceived, because he is God from all eternity. The problem here is understanding how the human and divine natures can both be held by a single person, which is beyond my ability to understand. Physicality is important for Luke, so physical life is emphasized even though he knows “people do not live on bread alone.”


Nope. Only in John.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit