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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:41 pm 
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Here, in this thread, we will examine Bart Ehrman's new e-book that supposedly debunks the Christ myth arguments. It will be available 11/22/2011 for $5.99. Ehrman says: "Yes, the historical Jesus of Nazareth did exist."

Will he trot out the usual Josephus, Pliny, Suetonius and Tacitus along with others like Phlegon, Thallus and Mara bar-Serapion etc., or will he actually provide credible primary source evidence for a historical Jesus? If so, it would be the first time throughout all history valid evidence for a historical Jesus has ever been presented. So, Ehrman would certainly deserve all sorts of credit and a prize for being the first ever to do so. Did Ehrman do what even the earliest Christians couldn't do? We'll see but I wouldn't hold my breathe.

Quote:
Did Jesus Exist? The Historical, Non-Religious Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart Ehrman

"DARING TOPIC: This is the question readers have been wanting Ehrman to answer for years. It is a question that follows naturally from his bestselling books, and any of his hundreds of thousands of readers will want to hear what he has to say.

For years Bart Ehrman has been routinely bombarded with one question: Did Jesus Exist? As a leading Bible expert, fans and critics alike have sent letters, emails, posted blogs, and questioned Ehrman during interviews wanting his opinion about this nagging question that has become a conspiracy theorist cottage industry the world over. The idea that the character of Jesus was an invention of the early church-and later a tool of control employed by the Roman Catholic Church-is a widely held belief and Ehrman has decided it's time to put the issue to rest. Yes, the historical Jesus of Nazareth did exist.

Known as a master explainer with deep knowledge of the field, Ehrman methodically demolishes both the scholarly and popular arguments against the existence of Jesus. Marshalling evidence from within the Bible and the wider historical record of the ancient world, Ehrman tackles the key issues that surround the popular mythologies associated with Jesus and the early Christian movement.

Those committed to the "non-existence" theory will need to read this formidable scholar's counter argument while the more traditionally minded will enthusiastically support Ehrman's definitive answer to the question. Perfect for the vigorous online debating community, this eBook original will be a must read for anyone interested in Jesus, the Bible, and the birth of Christianity."

Since Ehrman's e-book isn't out yet we'll start off with his other works and videos. Here's a video posted last year between Ehrman and Reg Finley:

"...As the debate reveals, this mythicist view of Jesus is not taken seriously in New Testament and historical scholarly circles. This is a rare moment in the freethinking society where Dr. Ehrman actually agrees with Christians on the existence of the historical Jesus..."

Did Jesus Exist?


More Bart Ehrman videos

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 6:11 pm 
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There are enough of us now well-trained in discussing the mythicist case, so I hope everyone will participate in this analysis. Ehrman's book will evidently be available through Kindle, which means anyone with a computer can also download it.

I wanted to reproduce here my comments on another thread, so they will be on record.

Re Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman, the book sounds entirely forgettable, but it's sure to stir things up. I know he contacted Bob Price for this one, but he did not contact me, of course. The fact that he came out with this ebook so quickly, along with his conclusion, indicates that he has not studied this particular subject in any real depth and is therefore not an expert on it. I would bet that most if not all of his arguments have already been addressed by one or more of us mythicists, from Doherty to Price to Humphreys, Lindtner and yours truly. Should be interesting - especially in light of the Christ Con revision I'm currently working on. :)

"...yes, Jesus did actually exist" - AGREED! As a MYTHICAL FIGURE.

This should be very amusing. It's likely he'll trot out Josephus, Pliny, Suetonius and Tacitus, since those are the bedrock apologies for the "historical" Jesus. Doubtful he will put much weight on Phlegon, Thallus and Mara bar-Serapion, however. And I'll bet he didn't deal with much comparative religion and mythology at all, since from his writings he does not seem to know very much about the subject. That's not something you can learn in a year or two: I've been studying these specific subjects vis-a-vis the Christ myth - in multiple languages from materials dating back thousands of years to the earliest times - for over 20 years.

I should add that I have REAMS more material - it's pouring in every day - to PROVE essentially the contention that Christ is a mythical figure. There is a mountain of it, and dollars to donuts Ehrman didn't scratch the surface. It's fantastic that Ehrman has had to write this book, admitting that there's a vast number of people asking the question of whether or not Jesus existed. That's quite an improvement from yesteryear, when people merely believed based on fiat/decree from perceived experts like Ehrman. Such as:

Quote:
...Ehrman has decided it's time to put the issue to rest. Yes, the historical Jesus of Nazareth did exist.

I see, so Ehrman is putting his foot down now, and he is the Almighty Authority to be believed, simply by wave of his hand and public decree, since it is more than likely he's not come up with any new, scientific evidence to prove this contention, and his arguments are likely to be the same hackneyed ones we've already addressed repeatedly for decades and centuries.

Thus, Acharya has decided it's time to put the issue to rest. Yes, the "Jesus Christ" of the New Testament is a mythical figure.

Ehrman's framed the argument incorrectly. We mythicists are not out to "disprove the existence of Jesus of Nazareth" or any other Jesus for that matter. We are showing - using an abundance of evidence that never quits coming - that the figure of "Jesus Christ" in the New Testament is a fictional composite, i.e., a literary or mythical character. It's really that simple, logical, rational and scientific.

Showing the void in the historical record for any such figure is merely the beginning, which Ehrman seems to think is the end. Like I say, he's no expert in comparative mythology, and he probably doesn't realize how much of the gospel story is patently from Pagan religions. Nor does he realize that the rest of the tale is basically copied from the Septuagint or Greek Old Testament, as well as Josephus and other texts, such as I explained in The Christ Conspiracy. The so-called "messianic prophecies" were used in order to create this composite figure, merging it with the attributes and tales of Pagan gods. When these factors are removed, there is little to nothing left that is "historical." This fact of there remaining little to nothing "historical" when the gospel story is dissected I demonstrated in my book Christ Con over a decade ago, and if Ehrman hasn't read it, again, he's not well enough informed about mythicist arguments to be writing this book.

Like I say, it's not difficult to understand or demonstrate in this day and age. How someone could sift through this massive material demonstrating this logical contention and come away with another viewpoint is curious, to say the least, except I'm wagering that he did NOT sift through it to any depth, and I'll also be blunt in asserting that his a priori assumption that Christ is a historical figure, albeit evemerized, is a reflection of uncritical conditioning, not scientific analysis.

When the mythical layers are removed, there is no core to the onion. A composite of 20 people, whether mythical or historical, is no one.

What Ehrman and other evemerists fail to grasp is that an evemerized "Jesus of Nazareth" - a "historical" figure to whom numerous attributes and sayings that were not originally his but came from others - is still a composite, i.e., a literary or fictional character! Is there a "historical" Gulliver? Some of his adventurers took place in real locations, such as England. Somebody said the things he said - do these facts mean that somewhere under the fictional attributes and borrowed commentary there's a "real" Gulliver of any significance?

By the way, here's one of the latest great mythicist texts:

Buddhism's Relation to Christianity
by Dr. Michael Lockwood

Lockwood's got the goods here on the Buddhist influence on Christian formation, using ancient texts, imagery and other primary sources, as well as intelligent and scientific arguments, including reproducing some of Lindtner's work in English. He includes Bob Price's review of my book Christ in Egypt. Ehrman's going to have his hands full if he's on a mission to refute the entire mythicist field, such as books like this one.

Quote:
Did Jesus Exist?
by Bart Ehrman

DARING TOPIC: This is the question readers have been wanting Ehrman to answer for years. It is a question that follows naturally from his bestselling books, and any of his hundreds of thousands of readers will want to hear what he has to say.

For years Bart Ehrman has been routinely bombarded with one question: Did Jesus Exist? As a leading Bible expert, fans and critics alike have sent letters, emails, posted blogs, and questioned Ehrman during interviews wanting his opinion about this nagging question that has become a conspiracy theorist cottage industry the world over. The idea that the character of Jesus was an invention of the early church-and later a tool of control employed by the Roman Catholic Church-is a widely held belief and Ehrman has decided it's time to put the issue to rest. Yes, the historical Jesus of Nazareth did exist.

Known as a master explainer with deep knowledge of the field, Ehrman methodically demolishes both the scholarly and popular arguments against the existence of Jesus. Marshalling evidence from within the Bible and the wider historical record of the ancient world, Ehrman tackles the key issues that surround the popular mythologies associated with Jesus and the early Christian movement.

Those committed to the "non-existence" theory will need to read this formidable scholar's counter argument while the more traditionally minded will enthusiastically support Ehrman's definitive answer to the question. Perfect for the vigorous online debating community, this eBook original will be a must read for anyone interested in Jesus, the Bible, and the birth of Christianity.

Made you look! :mrgreen:

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 10:02 pm 
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I'm reminded of this thread, Bart Ehrman says Acharya "knows nothing" !!!:

Quote:
David Barrett: "What about those writers like Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy) and Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), who say that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity was an invented religion, the Jewish equivalent of the Greek mystery religions?"

Bart Ehrman: "This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they’ve read a few popular books, but they’re not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they’re secret! So I think it’s crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this. I think the evidence is just so overwhelming that Jesus existed, that it’s silly to talk about him not existing. I don’t know anyone who is a responsible historian, who is actually trained in the historical method, or anybody who is a biblical scholar who does this for a living, who gives any credence at all to any of this."

- Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, “The Gospel According to Bart”, Fortean Times (221), 2007
http://en.wikiquote. org /wiki/Christ_myth_theory

Dr. Ehrman better hope that he has pulled a rabbit out of his ass because if not, my spidy senses tell me that he will pay dearly for it. Probably something like this, which is what I refer to as "getting Forbesed":

Rebuttal to Dr. Chris Forbes concerning 'Zeitgeist, Part 1'

I'm also reminded of this thread, Religion and the Ph.D.: A Brief History

Regarding the canonical gospels, Dr. Bart Ehrman remarks:

Quote:
"We don't have the originals! We have only error-ridden copies..."

- Who Was Jesus?, page 50

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:11 am 
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I'm not sure how many baseless assumptions Ehrman will have to make to "prove" his case.

Though In "Forged", He says, “Certainly the lies manufactured by the forgers of early Christian texts were not told in order to protect life and limb. They were told in order to deceive readers into thinking that the authors of these books were established authority figures.” p 267

I'm not sure what everyone else thinks about the early Christians. But I found them to be highly honest. The exception possibly being Irenaeus. Though I still couldn't say whether or not Irenaeus was being "untruthful," or if he simply "believed" what he said. Irenaeus was a redactor, but I'm not certain that makes him "dishonest." It all depends on beliefs, and what he knew versus what he didn't know. Altering texts is probably a byproduct of his beliefs.

I don't think Ehrman has any idea of what happened in early Christianity before Irenaeus. "Lying on a colossal scale" for the sole purpose of "deception," simply did not happen. It is easy to call something a "Forgery," if seen through modern eyes. It's much more difficult to claim that the ancients thought of these texts as "forgeries." It requires a massive amount of people to simply be liars.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 10:03 am 
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Whenever I've seen Ehrman pressed on the issue, his argument always relies on three things-

[paraphrasing]

1. That same lack of evidence could be said of ______, and yet no one disputes that person's historicity.

Typically his go to fill-in-the-blank here is Julius Caesar, which is absolutely ludicrous for reasons that deserve their own thread.
And so if called on that, he falls back to...

2. I know every major scholar in the field and none of them doubt the historicity of Jesus.

Quite a claim. Especially since Ehrman admits to also knowing folks such as Robert M. Price. And whenever I've seen that pointed out to him, he then retreats to...

3. No major scholar I know doubts the authenticity of Galatians, and in that book Paul refers to a "James, the Lord's brother" in an off-the-cuff manner, which indicates a real person.

This one is very strange. Even granting authenticity for Galatians and honesty for its author, this still doesn't serve as evidence for a real historical Jesus. At best it would only serve as evidence for a historical James. One who perhaps is simply CLAIMING to be the brother of Jesus. So it wouldn't even have to be the case that Galatians is forged or interpolated or that its author is lying. It could have been that this James figure was lying or deluded.

Claims of relationship to gods & demigods was not uncommon in the ancient world, even in the 1st century. Josephus, for example, one of the most major sources often cited concerning Jesus, tells us in Book 19 of Antiquities of how Caligula claimed to be the brother of Jupiter.

Does Josephus' mention of Caligula's claim to be the brother of Jupiter serve as evidence for a real historical existence of Jupiter?
Does "Paul's" mention of James' claim to be the brother of Jesus serve as evidence for a real historical existence of Jesus?

Certainly many among the worshippers of Jupiter believed he was real, and could tangibly walk the earth, even in human form, so should we make an exception for his historicity?

Those three things are the same routine offered by Ehrman every time I've ever seen him pressed on the issue. But to be fair, it's not like I'm an expert on his interviews and have seen every single time he's ever discussed this topic.

So I am certainly looking forward to this book, as the evidence I've thus far seen Ehrman offer has been very weak.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 08, 2011 9:41 pm 
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Yeah, I don't grant any of the bible text dates. I've got two early dates for Revelation, that's about the only thing guaranteed in the first century. Galatians, is a text I'm still working on. But there is nothing in the Pauline letters that predates 71CE. Even if Galatians is the earliest, which I doubt, it isn't likely in the first century. Probably closer to "The Gospel of the Lord" around 110 or 120. There isn't even evidence that Marcion wrote G-Lord at this point.

On the other-hand, texts like the Gospel of Bartholomew and Gospel of Thomas, are probably earlier than Pauline letters. Acts of Pontius Pilate is probably earlier than Pauline Letters. Paul's early dates are fictional.

The Acts version of Paul, is fictional too. Besides the fact that Paul and Acts could never be evidence of HJ, these are two different "Paul's." The case against Paul's early dates, is overwhelming and very simple.

An appeal to consensus, when probably 90% or more of the so-called critical scholars are also theologians, doesn't mean anything. The consensus is not generally interested in whether or not Jesus was historical. They just grant it. Appealing to the consensus isn't necessarily a difficult thing to do.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 14, 2011 11:53 pm 
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Here's a nice little quote by an Indian writer who underscores my point about European scholars, whose voluminous works on biblical criticism and mythicism will quite likely have been ignored in Ehrman's hasty "demolition" of this subject.

Quote:
"It is, of course, a well known fact that no one has yet succeeded in giving authentic evidences to establish the truth of all the stories that we read in the synoptic Gospels regarding the life of the Christ. On the contrary, the historic personality of Jesus has been denied over and over again by the most able scholars and higher critics of Europe and America." Swami Abhedānanda, Great Saviors of the World (1.39)

Needs to be repeated in the "No Serious Mythicist Scholar" thread as well.

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 Post subject: Jesus as Carpenter
PostPosted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 9:26 pm 
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Jesus as Carpenter

It's possible that one of Ehrman's evemerist "proofs" of Christ's existence will revolve around his purported occupation as a "carpenter."

However, as readers of my book Suns of God in particular may recall, the "carpenter god" is an old mythical motif, predating Christianity by centuries, found especially in the stories of the Indian gods Tvashtar and Vishvakarman.

Image

The Indian god Vishvakarman, the Divine Architect of the Universe, also known as the "Carpenter of the gods."

Sound familiar? Mark 6:3: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary...?" The Greek word for "carpenter" in the New Testament is τέκτων or tekton, which means "craftsman," "carpenter" or "builder," among others. Interestingly, in modern Greek τέκτων/tekton means "Freemason."

From Wiki:

Quote:
Viśvákarma (Sanskrit: विश्वकर्मा viśvá-karman "all-accomplishing; all-creator" is the Hindu presiding deity of all craftsmen and architects. He is believed by Hindus to be the "Principal Universal Architect", the architect who fabricated and designed the divine architecture of the Universe, the Lord of Creation....

The Mahabharata describes him as "The Lord of the Arts, Executor of a thousand Handicrafts, the Carpenter of the Gods, the most eminent of Artisans, the Fashioner of all ornaments ... and a great and immortal God..."

As I say, if someone doesn't know mythology, they won't realize what they're looking at when they're trying to find a "historical Jesus" under all the layers. I demonstrated this fact also in my book The Christ Conspiracy, in which I picked apart numerous aspects of the gospel tale - not just the most obvious, such as the virgin birth, walking on water and the ascension - and showed where they came from within mythology.

Not much meat left on those bones, upon which to hang a "historical Jesus."

When the mythological layers are peeled, there remains no historical core to the onion. A composite of 20 people, whether historical or mythological, is no one.

I'm willing to bet that I've pretty much covered every point Ehrman has raised but that, because he has likely dutifully ignored all my research, he will not know that fact. If he did, it is probable he wouldn't have written this book.

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Christian God/Jesus as the Great Architect of the Universe

Here is another tekton/craftsman god, from the Ras Shamra Ugaritic texts, dating from the 15th century BCE and recording the Ugarit/Canaanite/Western Semitic pantheon. The Ugarit craftsman god Hyn is called, "the Skilful and Percipient One," a rather Buddhistic-sounding term. (Gray, 41) This god is a house, palace and temple builder, associated with the Egyptian craftsman god Ptah. (Gray, 137) The Hebrew word in the Bible חרש charash, meaning “craftsman” and “artificer,” and translated at 1 Samuel 13:19, et al., as tekton, can be found in the Ugarit texts as well, as ḥrš, rendered "divination." (Gray, 68)

(Gray, John. The Legacy of Canaan: The Ras Shamra Texts and Their Relevance to the Old Testament. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1965.)

As we can see, this motif is very old and most assuredly did not originate with Jesus 2,000 years ago.

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 8:59 pm 
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GodAlmighty wrote:
Ehrmann: 3. No major scholar I know doubts the authenticity of Galatians, and in that book Paul refers to a "James, the Lord's brother" in an off-the-cuff manner, which indicates a real person.

This one is very strange. Even granting authenticity for Galatians and honesty for its author, this still doesn't serve as evidence for a real historical Jesus. At best it would only serve as evidence for a historical James. One who perhaps is simply CLAIMING to be the brother of Jesus. So it wouldn't even have to be the case that Galatians is forged or interpolated or that its author is lying. It could have been that this James figure was lying or deluded.


I've just discovered an amazing line in the Church Father Origen on this very point about Paul on James. See my post on Contra Celsus.

Origen says "Paul … regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not … by blood."

The full quote from Origen is as follows: "Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine."

Origen was an honest writer, who was decisive in the spread of Christianity, because he explained Christian doctrine on the basis of the Gospels. How was he to know that Mark was such an immense liar?

My other post goes into detail on the inexplicable absence of the Testimonium Flavianum from Origen.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 9:40 am 
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Ah, so even among early xians there may have been an understanding that referring to James as his brother was more of a metaphor or something to that effect, much like how xians today call each other "brother" or "sister" inspite of no blood relation. Or how the New Testament calls xians "sons" of god, even though they have no tangible blood relation to that god. And hey, if Jesus is his son, and xians are his sons, then I guess the Lord IS their brother, even of James, lol.

But anyway, thanks for that nugget.


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PostPosted: Sat Nov 19, 2011 10:46 pm 
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Thanks for posting that here Robert. This is something that I'm sure will be of use when addressing Ehrmans new e-book when it comes out next week. I didn't know about that exact quote from Origen until I read it @ BT, but it confirms what I've long suspected when people bring up James the so-called brother of the lord as an apology...

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 20, 2011 8:15 pm 
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A European Scholar Weighs In

Well, I've already got a comment from one of the European scholars whose work Ehrman undoubtedly has ignored in his "exhaustive demolition" of the mythicist case.

As I've pointed out, there is a large body of literature on this subject, from Bible criticism to comparative religion studies revealing very profound Buddhist connections, emanating out of Europe, beginning several centuries ago.

Much of it was originally in Latin, then French, German, Dutch and Danish. Today, there continues to be a significant "history of religions school" that puts out works useful in the field of mythicism. Some of the more modern works are by those would likely describe themselves as mythicists, when pressed.

In any case, here's what one of these European scholars has commented to me about Ehrman's latest effort:

Quote:
Bart Ehrman needs to know more about new sources from you. He is not a nut, only ignorant of Buddhist and other sources, and not very sharp. Likewise, American Buddhist scholars know little about the work of German Buddhologists. Too bad.

It would be helpful to have people from Europe put together lists of mythicist texts in other languages, such as French, German and Danish.

(And, yes, despite the credentialist calumny against me, I've been in communication with several important scholars of note in relevant fields over a number of years. I've currently got an invitation to publish a paper in a scholarly journal as soon as possible. I'm feeling overwhelmed by all the things I need to do!)

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 7:18 am 
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Has the release date for this book been pushed back? I'm not seeing it available.

I think the Mythicist case needs "mode of transmission." I can provide that I think. I usually only stay in Christianity, but last week I took at glance at Mithraism online. I like trying to figure out the reliefs. :D

The Mithraism timeline, fits mine perfectly. It just snaps right into my model. Horus, is so old, that I bet it comes in earlier than Mithraism. But I would suspect I can provide mode of transmission for 400 years before Christianity. Though, if it's a later Isis-Horus Mystery Cult, that should snap right in. Like Legos. An Isis-Horus Mystery Cult, would be a slam-dunk. I don't think there would be a question about it.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:17 am 
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I haven't heard anything yet. I was just wondering if anyone has had a chance to read it.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 29, 2011 11:37 am 
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Tat Tvam Asi wrote:
I haven't heard anything yet. I was just wondering if anyone has had a chance to read it.

The publication was delayed until March of next year, and the price was pushed up from $6 to $10, according to one online vendor (http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Did-Je ... 0062089946). I think this is good news, because Ehrman is an outsider to the mythicism debate, and the debate is a lot bigger, more complex and more diverse than the amount of time that Ehrman initially allocated for himself to rebut all of it.


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