I tend to reject most mainstream scholarly theories and truisms, whether they be found in ancient patristics, scholasticism, 19th century pre-Nag Hammadi scholarship, fundie scholarship, Catholic scholarship, or the Titans of modern new Testament scholarship such as Baur, Eisenmann, Ehrman, Pagels, etc. I also reject most of the Mythicist scholars. My reasons for doing so vary from camp to camp but the over arching reason is this: truisms. Statements that while they seem to be true are really just inaccurate damaging umbrella statements that have no basis in fact and no ground in reality. They are detrimental and actually tend to retard the mind of those whose ears they rape. I like to avoid truisms like the plague or the inquisition. I will not bother filling your brain with them but rather, I will seek to de-program them from your mind. I will address the most common ones and show you why they are utter rubbish.
The most popular truisms are as follows: Gnostics believed the material world was evil; Gnostics were a suicide cult; Gnostics hated procreation; Gnostics were monastics; Gnostics were libertines; Gnostics were elitists; and the list goes on an on ad infinitum. These statements are the most absurd nonsense. Here is another one: Gnostics eat babies, or there’s this one too: Gnostic Christology is adoptionist.
Another thing I really detest about Scholars is that they will assign a text to a given time period for no good reason! This irks me the most for several reasons, one being that it creates misconceptions that Orthodoxy is most certainly in possession of the oldest texts. Also, they tend to date manuscripts based on paleographic assumptions and tell everyone they carbon-dated them. This does not work on me because I have a little training in Archaeology from a community college. Something most people do not possess. Now depending on what chronological order the New Testament was written in can determine the beliefs of a scholar. It then has a great impact on the public at large if the scholar is popular. If the scholar is wrong, then well a whole lot of people are wrong with them.
No, that’s not Beetlejuice, it’s Bart D. Ehrman, a man with no point. A sell-out and Charlatan.
Bart Ehrman is a fantastic example of someone who was once a scholar and over time became a clanging cymbal. Most of his scholarship is really nothing more than beliefs based on how things ought to work. The writers of the New Testament had to have gradually become more anti-Semitic and so the most anti-Semitic material comes last. Yet, then he tells us that 1Thessalonians is the first writing ever penned in the canon! He bases the idea that these were written first on Acts of the Apostles. A book he assumes is old because it has adoptionist tendencies like the epistle to the Hebrews and Matthew. Yet, the most anti-Semitic statement occurs in this letter! It reads as follows, “You suffered from your people the same things those churches suffered from the Jews who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to everyone in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last.” (1Thess 2:14b-16) This is a red herring fallacy of Ehrman’s.
The above passage speaks of God sending his wrath upon the Jews which is clearly a reference to the temple destruction in AD70, yet it is purportedly written in the time of Paul as his first letter in the AD50s. How can Ehrman maintain that this is the earliest writing yet the anti-Semitic writings are the latest? Is he claiming we do not have any of the neutral or pro-Semitic writings? Yet it seems he admits we do. Of course, he would probably explain it as being an interpolation yet according to his logic we would have no reason to view it as such. To Ehrman, interpolations are really only plausible if we have manuscript tradition evidence that the verses were excluded. These were never excluded. Tertullian, in his Against Marcion book 5, chapter 15 actually speaks of the Jews slaying their prophets in reference to this same letter. Before him, no one knows of the passage. It could therefore be argued that it was interpolated after AD198-202 or 1Thessalonians was simply forged after Acts of the Apostles was written. Acts being first quoted by Irenaeus and at length for that matter.However, for Ehrman, patristics do not qualify as determinate in establishing interpolation.At least not when they defeat his stance.
That is only the beginning. Next off, Ehrman and many others like him tend to write one sentence paragraphs seemingly with the intention of fending off the literate. For an example, look to ‘Lost Christianities, (Christianities is not a plural for Christianity nor is it a word by the way). One need only read the second paragraph on page one. Shame on you Bart. He follows it up with the most ambiguous question to disgrace the paper of a book, “What could be more diverse than this variegated phenomenon, Christianity in the modern world?” If you cannot spot the ambiguity in this sentence, then you need to stop reading and take a college level English course. It should read, “What could be more diverse in our modern world than this variegated phenomenon called Christianity?” That is certainly his intention but because of the ambiguity you could read it as saying something different and his point falls apart.
It’s a bird, it’s a plane! No! It’s the Anne Coulter of the New Age: Acharya S.
A new Age could start when she stops talking. She’s about as wrong as Ehrman.
He then tries to convince his readers that most of these belief systems were stamped out so that is why many are not aware of them. That is not the case at all nor is it even remotely true. Most people do not know about them because most people do not give a rats ass. Most Protestant Christians do not care about these forms of belief unless they are Alex Jones types. Most Catholics are aware of them to some degree and either do not care about them because secretly they pray to Jupiter or because they just do not really worry about them because they do not interact with anyone holding to these beliefs. Most Eastern Orthodox know of these and despise them. The majority of the countries in the East are fully aware of them. There are to this day Cathars, Manichaeans, Mandaeans, etc. in several places in the world.
Most anything that Ehrman or Acharya S say really only applies to Western Christianity. Ehrman claims ever so stupidly (and lies) when he says there were groups of Gnostics that believed in two gods, and thirty gods, and 365 gods. This is not true at all. He also cannot provide a citation. These are a few more truisms. Here is another: Gnostics were dualists, or: Gnostics were panentheists. Both are false. The truth is, scholars like the term dualism so it is an elastic term they stretch and manipulate like a seamstress in order to fit the pants around their big fat lies and fat wallets.
Scholars will also suggest that there were Gnostics who believed the world was created by the Demiurge who was blind and ignorant, and that he did it with the intention of imprisoning us in his big cosmic matrix film just for shits and giggles because he is a pompous ass. Perhaps even that he is a dead beat dad or an absentee land lord. While these may represent the passion Gnostics may have had in their resentment against mankinds various concepts of God (conceptions of God), they do not state the facts of their theology.
The Gnostic groups actually did not believe the Demiurge created the world. They believed that Sophia had split in two and gave birth to the Demiurge who was the disorganized matter like a miscarriage more so than an abortion. (Sophia even gave birth without a consort like the Virgin Mary or YHWH did to Adam). If you have ever seen an abortion performed then you can visualize this description. If not, then you might have a hard time. By calling it an abortion, they meant that rather than having a divinely organized form it was formless and void as Genesis calls it. They got the idea from Genesis. The idea that the world was created by angels is from Genesis too. So, Gnostics actually believed that angels created the world on the command of the Demiurge who was the material creation itself. Since he was blind and ignorant, he could not intentionally imprison us. Where Ehrman got these ideas is beyond me. There is no support for these assertions in the Nag Hammadi Corpus nor in the earliest patristic writers.
Ehrman also loves to suggest that anything Gnostic must date to the third century or later. He goes on to suggest that Gnostics believed that the God of the Jews was Satan. The problem is that Jesus believed this too. One need only read the Gospel of John for proof. Paul, who was the first Gnostic according to some of the Gnostics, actually taught that the destroying angel mentioned in Exodus was the God of the Jews and gave the Satanic 1/3 of the law while Moses gave the rest and God gave the decalogue. It was not YHWH but the Existent one who gave the decalogue. The name YHWH never occurs in Gnostic texts because the name YHWH was not even used in regards to God in their time.That is a late development.
Then he says that some Christians believed the spirit left Jesus before his death yet he uses Mark’s gospel as proof. However, Mark depicts the spirit leaving Jesus directly when he breathes his last breath with a clear parallel to Genesis when Adam becomes a living being when God breathes into him. This is an ancient Egyptian belief and was the reason behind the opening of the mouth ceremony. So, this claim as you can see is Purina dog chow. Like many scholars, he too loves to claim some Gnostics believed Jesus never suffered. This is false information based on polemics, the very thing he claims to be against. Yet, he takes the heresiologists words into his veins like heroine while treating the Nag Hammadi texts as if they were not accurate or informative. As if the stance of the enemy was best.
He then likes to make silly statements such as, “There were yet other Christians who said that Jesus never died”. He loves to use words that Gnostics defined differently such as death. For a Gnostic, death meant to be ignorant just like drunk and asleep did. It was not meant to mean dead in the carnal sense, as in the cessation of material biological life. Rather, to be dead to the world was to be alive in the spirit. To be alive biologically could also be to be dead spiritually. I would argue that the majority of Christians and Gnostics believed that Jesus never truly died because he could not be held captive by the grave. Ehrman should just drop this statement altogether. It is counter-intuitive and anti-productive. It may have possibly committed genocide on my grey matter.
He also asks why people held these wild beliefs and wonders if it was because “there was no New Testament”. Yet, he is too stupid to realize that these groups did not have the interpolated texts, while some had entirely different texts. However, there was a New Testament as is obvious from patristics. Only Catholics used this canon! With the exception of 3John, 2Peter, Jude, and James which are doubted as being earlier than AD250.
He even assumes that the four gospels are evidenced by Irenaeus. However, books 3-5 likely date to the time of AD382-385 when Pope Damasus assigned Jerome to correct the texts in order to prove Romes supremacy. The first two books show no evidence of Mark’s gospel. It seems there was a Gospel of Marcion predating Luke which was likely redacted a few times. There was John which went through some redactions. Then there was the Gospel of the Hebrews that became Matthew. Then there were some others like Mary, Judas, Thomas, and Peter. All of which we known were being used by Orthodox Christians in Oxyrhyncus along with the other gospels. While Judas was being used in the time of Irenaeus.
I’ll stop here because my blood is boiling…
P.s. Acharya S. and Bart D. Ehrman please go back to 1848 and visit your friends.