I’ve been avidly devouring Bart Ehrman’s New Testament studies for several years now. I love them, refer to them; but there are problems. I’ll come at some of those problems utilizing points already made in other contexts:
Once upon a time smart scientists, like Lorenz, believed that the weather could be predicted with better than random results if only … lots of data were gathered, lots of calculations were made …
More than one smart person calculated a basic set of equations. Today we use such data and such calculations and get good weather predictions: thanks to the power of computers. And that‘s the problem! Before this generation of computers, to predict the weather, you had to gather X data and make Y calculations: and if you made a sub-calculation of Y, one a second, never making a single mistake, and if your data were all flawless, and began your procedures on Jan 1 1901 (before the computers and before the math theory!), then you could calculate your prediction by Dec 31, 2301. I make up the year: point is: a long time!
Think of it: it’s Monday, you want to guess Friday’s weather: you can! a few centuries after it’s no longer Friday!
Practice couldn’t keep pace with theory. Theoretically we could predict the weather, actually, we couldn’t. Now we can, but only because of new math theory and super calculation capacity of modern computers.
I can run. I can run fast (for a seventy-three years old) (who’s never had a regular income that lasted more than a few months or so). But I can’t outrun the leopard!
Now: I can read. I can read carefully. I can read well. But my Latin is rusty, creaky. My German is almost as bad. My French isn’t as good as it once was. I have no Greek! No Aramaic! Only a word of two of Sanscrit. Not one of Hebrew! And though I once upon a time brought an occasionally photographic memory to my reading, 73, old, broke, censored, jailed … sabotaged at ever turn … despised by nearly all my neighbors, I can’t be bothered.
What I digest from Ehrman is that I might be able to glean trustworthy information about Jesus from the New Testament if my scholarship in such relevant disciplines were peer to his. I might understand something, reliably, if I had every word of the NT labeled: this passage is a forgery, this passage is a lie, this passage is a mistake …
Furthermore, notice: all my life I’ve reported that God has spoken to me. I can identify not one person who’s asked what he said! I’ve written it down. My fiction didn’t get published. My essays, when I published them myself, on this internet, which the government plagiarized from me while holding me powerless, got censored, my domains destroyed … Ehrman for example hasn’t responded to my words, or that I know of to Ivan Illich’s, nor that I can see from the Christ messages that I agree with Illich can be intuited in the Christian tradition: live convivially. Kleptocracies and universities … and religion departments are united against the possibility of Christian living!
Even so, so you need six PhDs and perfect knowledge before you can rely on what you can read in the Bible?
Knowledge of the Bible may be possible in theory; in practice, forget it. Trust the used car salesman instead.
To date there are ten Ehrman references at pK blog, I’ll try to make a sub-menu for them. Use Google for domain-specific searches.