Friday, May 15, 2009

Telling Indexes

For reasons that presently escape me but are no doubt crudely pecuniary, CNN has decided to notice the existence of scholar and agnostic Bart Ehrman:

Ehrman backs his arguments with a deep knowledge of the culture and history of the New Testament world. He's written 20 books on early Christianity and is an authority on ancient manuscripts used to translate the Bible.

His claims, though, take on some of Christianity's most sacred tenets, like the resurrection of Jesus. Ehrman says he doesn't think the resurrection took place. There's no proof Jesus physically rose from the dead, and the resurrection stories contradict one another, he says.
That Ehrman does indeed ground his skepticism of Christianity in a thorough knowledge of its theology, source texts, and even the languages in which the texts were written; and that he tends to come across in an easygoing and friendly manner poses an interesting challenge for the anti-new-atheist flacks: the Courtier's Reply, according to which religious skepticism is dismissed on grounds of an alleged failure to consider the past 3,000 years worth of theology, does not work for Ehrman. It does not work against other critics of religion, but it falls with an especially audible thud in Ehrman's case.

It would be interesting to observe, for example, whether Terry Eagleton or Chris Hedges -- who appear to have written the same unreadable book, give or take a few turns of phrase, sloppy misattributions, and points of emphasis -- have seen fit to mention Ehrman. Amazon.com's helpful "look inside this book" feature reveals that Eagleton's index includes zero mentions of Bart Ehrman; and Hedges' version of the same book matches that zero; as does Dinesh D'Souza's; as does this one.

Telling, no?

I do not mean to suggest Ehrman is without his critics. But he has the scholarly background to tell a naked emperor from a clothed one, and from that expertise he has come to a decidedly new-atheistic set of conclusions, albeit without the same self-label.

Telling. Yes.

2 comments:

Sis B said...

Indices, no?

Dale said...

No. I use English on this precious, precious blog. In English, we pluralize with 's' or 'es.'

But OK, it's not as though I tear up a book if it says 'indices' instead of 'indexes' -- well, usually I don't. It depends on whether I've already paid for the book and whether I think I'll get caught.

;-)