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Thread: Looking for responses to Bart Ehrman's work

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    tWebber
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    Looking for responses to Bart Ehrman's work

    Over the past year I have found that Bart Ehrman's debates and his lecture series "Historical Jesus" (https://www.thegreatcourses.com/cour...cal-jesus.html) to be absolutely fascinating and really resonated with me. Can anyone recommend notable threads on here / youtube videos / other resources which critique his work / conclusions? I'm looking for something taking as much of a secular perspective as possible since obviously what he says is trivial to defeat by presupposing that "the bible is accurate in all of its details" (or something along those lines).

    I'm listening to "Historical Jesus" a second time so I can put this thread on hold and come back with some of the main points I'm interested in hearing responses to once I've done that.

    Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by DivineOb View Post
    Over the past year I have found that Bart Ehrman's debates and his lecture series "Historical Jesus" (https://www.thegreatcourses.com/cour...cal-jesus.html) to be absolutely fascinating and really resonated with me. Can anyone recommend notable threads on here / youtube videos / other resources which critique his work / conclusions? I'm looking for something taking as much of a secular perspective as possible since obviously what he says is trivial to defeat by presupposing that "the bible is accurate in all of its details" (or something along those lines).

    I'm listening to "Historical Jesus" a second time so I can put this thread on hold and come back with some of the main points I'm interested in hearing responses to once I've done that.

    Thanks
    I can give you the following:

    Quotes by Bart Ehrman

    “What I think we can say with some confidence is that Jesus actually did die, he probably was buried, and that some of his disciples (all of them? some of them?) claimed to have seen him alive afterward. Among those who made this claim, interestingly enough, was Jesus’ own brother James, who came to believe in Jesus and soon thereafter became one of the principle leaders of the early Christian church.”

    Source: Bart Ehrman, Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, [Oxford University Press US, 1999], p.229

    “The Gospel of John … goes a long way toward identifying Jesus himself as divine (see e.g., John 8:58; 10:30; 20:28).”

    Source: Bart Ehrman, Whose Word Is It? [Continuum International Publishing Group, 2006], p. 161

    Book: The Text of the New Testament (authors Bart Ehrman and Bruce Metzger)

    Bruce M. Metzger is a world-renowned authority on the manuscripts and transmission of the Greek New Testament

    Testimony from Bruce Metzger in the book, “The Case for Christ”:

    "With the similarities in the way Greek letters are written and with the primitive conditions under which the scribes worked, it would seem inevitable that copying errors would creep into the text,' I said. "Quite so," Metzger conceded.

    "And in fact, aren't there literally tens of thousands of variations among the ancient manuscripts that we have?" "Quite so."

    "Doesn't that therefore mean we can't trust them?" I asked, sounding more accusatory than inquisitive. "NO SIR, IT DOES NOT," Metzger replied firmly. "First let me say this: Eyeglasses weren't invented until 1373 in Venice, and I'm sure that astigmatism existed among the ancient scribes. That was compounded by the fact that it was difficult under any circumstances to read faded manuscripts on which some of the ink had flaked away. And there were other hazards - inattentiveness on the part of scribes, for example . So yes, although for the most part scribes were scrupulously careful, errors did creep in.

    "But," he was quick to add, "there are factors counteracting that. For example, sometimes the scribe's memory would play tricks on him. Between the time it took for him to look at the text and then to write down the words, the order of words might get shifted. He may write down the right words but in the wrong sequence. THIS IS NOTHING TO BE ALARMED AT, BECAUSE GREEK, UNLIKE ENGLISH, IS AN INFLECTED LANGUAGE."
    "Meaning...," I prompted him.

    "MEANING IT MAKES A WHALE OF A DIFFERENCE IN ENGLISH IF YOU SAY, 'DOG BITES MAN' OR 'MAN BITES DOG' - SEQUENCE MATTERS IN ENGLISH. BUT IN GREEK IT DOESN'T. ONE WORD FUNCTIONS AS THE SUBJECT OF THE SENTENCE REGARDLESS OF WHERE IT STANDS IN THE SEQUENCE; CONSEQUENTLY, THE MEANING OF THE SENTENCE ISN'T DISTORTED IF THE WORDS ARE OUT OF WHAT WE CONSIDER TO BE THE RIGHT ORDER. So yes, some variations among manuscripts exist, but generally they're INCONSEQUENTIAL VARIATIONS like that. Differences in spelling would be another example."

    I keyed in on the most important issue. "How many doctrines of the church are in jeopardy because of variants?" "I DON'T KNOW OF ANY DOCTRINE THAT IS IN JEOPARDY," he responded confidently

    "So the variations, when they occur, tend to be minor rather than substantive?"

    "Yes, yes, that's correct, and scholars work very carefully to try to resolve them by getting back to the original meaning. The more significant variations do not overthrow any doctrine of the church. Any good Bible will have notes that will alert the reader to variant readings of any consequence. But, again, these are rare." (Strobel, pp. 82-85)

    Strobel concludes:

    As we stood, I thanked Dr. Metzger for his time and expertise. He smiled warmly and offered to walk me downstairs. I didn't want to consume any more of his Saturday afternoon, but my curiosity wouldn't let me leave Princeton without satisfying myself about one remaining issue.

    "All these decades of scholarship, of study, of writing textbooks, of delving into the minutiae of the New Testament text - WHAT HAS ALL THIS DONE TO YOUR PERSONAL FAITH?" I asked.

    "Oh," he said, sounding happy to discuss the topic, 'IT HAS INCREASED THE BASIS OF MY PERSONAL FAITH TO SEE THE FIRMNESS WITH WHICH THESE MATERIALS HAVE COME DOWN TO US, WITH A MULTIPLICITY OF COPIES, SOME OF WHICH ARE VERY, VERY ANCIENT."

    "So," I started to say, "scholarship has not diluted your faith-"

    He jumped in before I could finish my sentence. "On the contrary," he stressed, "it has built it. I've asked questions all my life, I've dug into text, I've studied this thoroughly, and TODAY I KNOW WITH CONFIDENCE THAT MY TRUST IN JESUS HAS BEEN WELL PLACED."

    He paused while his eyes surveyed my face. Then he added, for emphasis, "VERY WELL PLACED." (Strobel, p. 93)

    What do Metzger and Ehrman conclude together in that revised work? Melinda Penner of Stand to Reason writes,

    (Book: The Text of the New Testament (authors Bart Ehrman and Bruce Metzger)

    “Ehrman and Metzger state in that book that we can have a high degree of confidence that we can reconstruct the original text of the New Testament, the text that is in the Bibles we use, because of the abundance of textual evidence we have to compare. The variations are largely minor and don’t obscure our ability to construct an accurate text. The 4th edition of this work was published in 2005 – the same year Ehrman published Misquoting Jesus, which relies on the same body of information and offers no new or different evidence to state the opposite conclusion.”

    Here’s what Ehrman said in an interview found in the appendix of Misquoting Jesus (p. 252):

    “Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”

    Source: http://crossexamined.org

    Book Forged:

    http://www.risenjesus.com/review-of-...he-name-of-god

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blo...hink-they-are/

    http://ap.lanexdev.com/APContent.asp...3&article=4253

    http://www.toughquestionsanswered.or...e-in-mark-226/

    Mark 2:26, what started it all:


    Clip: My challenge to Christians who are intimidated by claims of errors in the Bible is to go do some research for yourself. There are answers to these challenges. Remember, virtually all the Bible difficulties that critics raise have been known for 2,000 years. None of them are new. Instead of throwing your faith away, do some digging. I only wish Ehrman had.

    Was the high priest Abiathar (Mark 2:26), or Ahimelech (1 Samuel 21:1; 22:20) when David went into the house of God and ate the consecrated bread? (category: misunderstood the Hebrew usage & misunderstood the historical context) Jesus states that the event happened in the days of Abiathar the high priestand yet we know from 1 Samuel that Abiathar was not actually the high priest at that time; it was his father, Ahimelech. If we were to introduce an anecdote by saying, When king David was a shepherdboy..., it would not be incorrect, even though David was not king at that time. In the same way, Abiathar was soon to be high priest and this is what he is most remembered for, hence he is designated by this title. Moreover, the event certainly did happen in the days of Abiathar, as he was alive and present during the incident. We know from 1 Samuel 22:20 that he narrowly escaped when his fathers whole family and their town was destroyed by Sauls men. Therefore, Jesus statement is quite acceptable. (Archer 1994:362)


    Book Misquoting Jesus:

    http://www.cbn.com/special/apologeti...rt_ehrman.aspx
    Clip:

    Finally (and most damaging), Ehrman’s list proves just the opposite of what he intends. For all his hand wringing that the original text is lost forever, his list itself demonstrates it’s possible to recognize the most important spurious renderings and eliminate them.

    Ehrman’s own works (Misquoting and also The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture) prove that the text-critical methods mentioned above—the very methods he uses to critique the New Testament—are adequate to restore the original reading. It is proof that the massive number of variants do not interfere with our ability to recapture the original, but instead the rich manuscript evidence we possess allows us to weed out the vast percentage of variants. Otherwise Ehrman would not be able to say with confidence his “Top Ten”—or any other verses—are not in the New Testament.

    This is a fact he acknowledges (again, ironically) in another work. Compare the pessimism of Misquoting Jesus with the optimism expressed in Metzger and Ehrman’s The Text of the New Testament: 35

    Besides textual evidence derived from New Testament Greek manuscripts and from early versions, the textual critic compares numerous scriptural quotations used in commentaries, sermons, and other treatises written by early church fathers. Indeed, so extensive are these citations that if all other sources for our knowledge of the text of the New Testament were destroyed, they would be sufficient alone for the reconstruction of practically the entire New Testament. [emphasis added]

    https://bible.org/article/gospel-according-bart

    Book Jesus Interrupted:

    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/...alysis-of.html
    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/...sis-of_08.html
    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/...sis-of_13.html
    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/...part-four.html
    http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/...sis-of_16.html

  3. Amen lee_merrill amen'd this post.
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    Thank you for this. I will admit taken in isolation the textual variants *might* not "prove" that the core tenets of Christianity were not retained (though I believe there *are* clear instances which are more significant). Let finish going through the lectures again and then post more specific questions.

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    As well as registering the fact of scribal variations, one should also ask *why* a given variation matters. And also, what is the meaning given by each of the variants in a given passage.

    It is also worth pointing out that textual variation is normal, whether in manuscripts, or in printed editions. It is not a frailty that affects the NT, or the Bible generally, alone. There are thousands of variants in the text of Shakespeare’s plays, from the First Folio in 1623. There are hundreds of variants in the editions of the 1611 Bible. Anyone with any knowledge of editions of cuneiform texts will be familiar with the hundreds of variants in the Enuma Elish AKA the Babylonian Epic of Creation.

    Printing can stabilise a text - it can also generate fresh variants. This is said to have happened in the printing of the Lord of the Rings.

    It should also be pointed out, that even when the text is certain, translations of it may vary. Not through incompetence, but because the text can legitimately be translated in more than one way.

    People could also help matters by explaining what they mean by a “textual variation”. ISTM the whole subject of textual variation calls for a lot of careful distinctions, so that (1) people don’t talk at cross-purposes by having different ideas of what counts as textual variation; (2) the extent of the problem is neither exaggerated nor understated.

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    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by DivineOb View Post
    Thank you for this. I will admit taken in isolation the textual variants *might* not "prove" that the core tenets of Christianity were not retained (though I believe there *are* clear instances which are more significant). Let finish going through the lectures again and then post more specific questions.
    These folks are conflicted on Ehrman. He doesn't believe in their God, or their version of Jesus, so they feel a need to attack him, but when they address his claims, it turns out he's not saying anything controversial. It's all mainline scholarship.

  7. Amen Hypatia_Alexandria amen'd this post.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juvenal View Post
    These folks are conflicted on Ehrman. He doesn't believe in their God, or their version of Jesus, so they feel a need to attack him, but when they address his claims, it turns out he's not saying anything controversial. It's all mainline scholarship.
    I am not in the least bit conflicted on Ehrman. When he writes for scholarly audiences in his area of specialty, he is relatively mainstream. When he writes for popular audiences or in areas outside of his specialty, he has a charming tendency to make implications not well borne out by his scholarship. When he attempts to explain (away) the Resurrection of Christ, he is not in the least bit "mainline"; there are a number of theories which attempt to explain how a resurrection myth arose, none of which command any sort of majority following, because none of them are remotely plausible. The majority scholarly position is that the resurrection happened (Gary Habermas has done extensive research documenting that).

    Your cheap attempt at psychoanalysis is amusing, but predicable. Jerk.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

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    Quote Originally Posted by DivineOb View Post
    Thank you for this. I will admit taken in isolation the textual variants *might* not "prove" that the core tenets of Christianity were not retained (though I believe there *are* clear instances which are more significant). Let finish going through the lectures again and then post more specific questions.
    Which came first, the gospels or the church?
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio

    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

  10. #8
    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian3 View Post
    Quotes by Bart Ehrman
    Apologists, especially inerrantists, often feel a need to inflate the opposition into something they can attack. Even these dated citations debunk claims that Ehrman's positions are anything other than mainstream.

    “What I think we can say with some confidence is that Jesus actually did die, he probably was buried, and that some of his disciples (all of them? some of them?) claimed to have seen him alive afterward. Among those who made this claim, interestingly enough, was Jesus’ own brother James, who came to believe in Jesus and soon thereafter became one of the principle leaders of the early Christian church.”
    Ehrman agrees that Jesus existed and, reluctantly — only because it shouldn't have needed to be said, wrote a stand-alone book saying so. The "6-week certified" apologist moaned that his self-published book did the same, and couldn't understand why folks would rather read it from someone who could actually write.

    Not that "Jesus didn't exist" isn't all too common. I've had students ask me about it. I've responded with Bart's references to encounters with Peter and James by Paul. Not that it needs it, but I've cited Ehrman's promotion to add further heft to the fact this isn't a Christian apologetic. There's nothing miraculous about a baby being born in first century Palestine. It was pretty common back then.

    “The Gospel of John … goes a long way toward identifying Jesus himself as divine (see e.g., John 8:58; 10:30; 20:28).'
    He's since gone further than that, changing his mind on whether the synoptics also see Jesus as divine. He'd previously restricted that view to John. The critical factor was an analysis of how adoption was viewed in the first century and how that related to descriptions of Jesus as God's son.

    Testimony from Bruce Metzger in the book, “The Case for Christ”:
    There is never a good excuse to cite Lee Strobel in a serious discussion on apologetics. There's less excuse to caricaturize a prominent scholar like Metzger by turning his thoughtful expositions into the spit-bejeweled shouts of a hair-shirted maniac. All caps quotation of Metzger is tantamount to libel.

    In fairness, I'm going to assume that presentation was not original.

    “Bruce Metzger is one of the great scholars of modern times, and I dedicated the book to him because he was both my inspiration for going into textual criticism and the person who trained me in the field. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. And even though we may disagree on important religious questions – he is a firmly committed Christian and I am not – we are in complete agreement on a number of very important historical and textual questions. If he and I were put in a room and asked to hammer out a consensus statement on what we think the original text of the New Testament probably looked like, there would be very few points of disagreement – maybe one or two dozen places out of many thousands. The position I argue for in ‘Misquoting Jesus’ does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.”
    Ehrman would be the first to say Metzger doesn't deserve that all caps treatment.

    FYI, that's Mike Licona, ApologiaNick's father-in-law, writing in March 2011 shortly before he was expelled from Southern Evangelical Seminary by the late lamented Norman Geisler.

    In a series of open letters posted online, Norman Geisler, distinguished professor of apologetics at Veritas Evangelical Seminary in Murrieta, California, objected to Licona's characterizing the passage as a "strange little text." Geisler accused Licona of denying the full inerrancy of Scripture. He also called for Licona to recant his interpretation, labeling it "unorthodox, non-evangelical, and a dangerous precedent for the rest of evangelicalism."

    Geisler had issues with Mike's choice to brush away Matthew's holy zombies as nothing more than “poetical,” a “legend,” an “embellishment,” and literary “special effects.”

    It would be interesting to see what Mike says about Ehrman now that his livelihood isn't dependent on steering clear of these reefs on the inerrantist shore.

    I'm not seeing anything here post 2012. A decade is a long time between revisions. Start updating your files by clicking on links and seeing which ones are dead.

    This guy is a preacher with a blog and no studies of his own on the topic, so he does a quick spin on google to dig up an apologetic from Norman Geisler *ahem* he's well aware could have been gleaned from Ehrman himself.

    According to Ehrman, in his research paper, he developed a “long and complicated argument” to explain away the apparent mistake.

    The point being that there's no need for these complicated arguments when simpler arguments suffice.

    But when he received his graded paper his professor had written, “Maybe Mark just made a mistake.”

    The point being that that's okay. It's okay for mistakes to show up in any text, so long as the gist isn't lost. Ehrman's issues arose specifically because he'd been raised and schooled in a tradition that identified their faith with an inerrantist position that no survey has ever shown to be the majority position in Christianity, even where that position is most heavily represented.

    It's just not.

    Christians, who make up a majority of U.S. adults (71%), are divided over how to interpret the Bible. While about four-in-ten Christians (39%) say the Bible’s text is the word of God and should be taken literally, 36% say it should not be interpreted literally or express another or no opinion. A separate 18% of Christians view the Bible as a book written by men, not God.

    Koukl is a prime example of ...

    Apologists, especially inerrantists, [who] feel a need to inflate the opposition into something they can attack.

    This is how he begins.

    ... Bart Ehrman fires a shot meant to sink the ship of any Christian who thinks the New Testament documents can be trusted.

    That's what I'm talking about. It feeds on the Christian persecution mythos.

    A lesser man might suggest it's done for financial gain, but I think that's rare. These folks sincerely believe what they're writing about, even when, unlike the STR folks, they insist Christianity stands or falls based on whether Noah ran a wet navy like a proper Brit or waited until landfall to get properly soused.

    Astoundingly, there's an entire ecosystem within Christianity dedicated to the thesis that the universe was created in six literal days a few thousand years ago.

    Ben is insecure.jpg

    It's 2020. Witherington is a "serious" apologist. There's no excuse for his blog missing an https.

    Let me start then with a general criticism about Bart’s entire approach. He begins in his first chapter by bemoaning ...

    *sigh*

    ... the fact that the general populus including the church, has been left in the dark about what “scholars have been saying” for lo these many years (over a hundred actually) about the Bible ...

    Either "populous" or populus.

    At least it's not in all caps.

    ... He puts it this way “the perspectives that I present in the following chapters are not my own idiosyncratic views of the Bible. They are the views that have held sway for many, many years among the majority of serious critical scholars teaching in universities and seminaries of North America and Europe”(p.2).

    And they are.

    Let me start then with a general criticism about Ben's entire approach.

    If you're going to argue that Ehrman has supported something that's not mainstream, you should show an alternative that holds greater sway. We understand that not all positions are set in stone, that for some there is no clear majority.

    Proffering an alternative that's not as widely held isn't helpful.

    Pardon the bemoan.

  11. #9
    radical strawberry
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    I am not in the least bit conflicted on Ehrman.
    Awesome!

    So how's the wife and kids?

    I just finished the semester and by just finished I mean ... just that.

    Friday 4:20 p.m., via email: Hey Jesse,

    Just need to know if you have submitted your final grades. If not, can you let me know when you think you will have them in?

    Friday, 4:32 p.m., via text: Hey Jesse. Just need confirmation if final grades are in.

    Friday, 4:56 p.m., via email: Dear Niki,

    Just finished grading my Thursday afternoon finals an hour ago. Sorry that put you in suspense! Grades were in before 5 p.m., with oodles of minutes to spare.

    Friday, 4:59 p.m., via email: LOL!! Ooddles and oddles! Not!

    After one of these interactions last term, Niki voiced a concern that I had a problem with procrastination, which is totally untrue. I'm good at it. I emailed everyone their graded exams first because I knew I had the time. We've got a month now for Summer because they moved the break from right after Spring to just before Fall, so I'm planning on getting some work done on the Everglades property and putting a lot more thought into Remote Learning.

    No question this last month has been rough. Had to throw away all the prep from before we went online and the new prep had to be continuously reworked because of technical faults interfering with the presentation, mostly chopped audio. There's been a lot of 18-hour days and a few all-nighters, still, end-of-term is always the worst. There was still admin work even after the grades went in, and by then it was, well, hello Saturday. I haven't actually slept since hmm, Wednesday night I guess.

    But whoa, what a load off.

    Never a third grader in history has greeted a summer break with such elan.

    When he writes for scholarly audiences in his area of specialty, he is relatively mainstream. When he writes for popular audiences or in areas outside of his specialty, he has a charming tendency to make implications not well borne out by his scholarship. When he attempts to explain (away) the Resurrection of Christ, he is not in the least bit "mainline"; there are a number of theories which attempt to explain how a resurrection myth arose, none of which command any sort of majority following, because none of them are remotely plausible. The majority scholarly position is that the resurrection happened (Gary Habermas has done extensive research documenting that).
    Implications, inferences, what's in a word.

    Apologists, especially inerrantists, often feel a need to inflate the opposition into something they can attack.

    Habermas' math is hack. I mean, much worse than William Lane Craig, and that's pretty bad. To read his minimal facts approach to the Resurrection is to ask who would ever hire him. It's that embarrassing.

    2020-05-02_14-58-19.jpg

    Oh, yeah, forgot about them. You're in the neighborhood. Have you seen their museum?

    flood dinosaurs.jpg

    Some of those fossils are thousands of years old.

    Full credit for pursuing a real PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies, for the College of Arts and Letters of a real university. But you have to look askance at his decision to style that as a degree in history. Much like Richard Carrier calling himself a New Testament scholar after researching "Attitudes toward the Natural Philosopher in the Early Roman Empire (100 B.C. to 313 A.D.)."

    That's not how this works.

    Your cheap attempt at psychoanalysis is amusing, but predicable. Jerk.
    If I can bring even one smile to one piglet's eye, my day has been worthwhile.

  12. #10
    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    The majority scholarly position is that the resurrection happened (Gary Habermas has done extensive research documenting that).
    The ''majority scholarly opinion'' among Christians scholars, correct? If so, what's the relevance?

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