Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

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neilgodfrey
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Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by neilgodfrey »

If you believe you had good reason to believe Bart Ehrman did not himself read some of the books he discussed in Did Jesus Exist?, you should know that you are not alone in thinking Bart can be a bit ... "untidy":
A retrospect provides the opportunity to correct certain misinterpretations of my essay. In the introduction to his edition and translation of 1 Clement in The Apostolic Fathers I, Bart Ehrman attributed to me the view that the Roman epistle “may well have been written much earlier than traditionally supposed, possibly prior to 70 (Welborn).”35 This is demonstrably false, and would not merit attention, were it not for the fact that the Loeb Classical Library edition is consulted by many readers. Perhaps Ehrman intended to credit me for enabling Thomas Herron’s argument for a date before the Jewish War, interpreting the reference to sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple in 1 Clem. 40:1–41:2 literally.36 But Ehrman’s reference is to Welborn, not to Herron.
What date range did Welborn propose for 1 Clement?
I cautiously proposed a wide date range for the composition of 1 Clement: between 80 and 140 CE.
  • Welborn, L L. “Retrospect on a Challenge to the Consensus on the Date of 1 Clement.” Biblical Research 65 (2020): 95–103.
Welborn found a sympathizer for Erhman's careless treatment of his work:
As for Ehrman, he may have implied by his parenthetical insertion that readers should turn to Welborn’s essay for all of the information one needs to assess the date. Nonetheless, his line is ambiguous and Welborn’s objection is understandable, particularly in light of the popularity of the LCL series.
  • Rothschild, Clare K. Review of Horror vacui: Welborn’s “Retrospect on a Challenge to the Consensus on the Date of 1 Clement,” by L. L. Welborn. Biblical Research 65 (2020): 104–13.
I learned long ago to never rely on citations, no matter how "distinguished" the scholar, but always check them for myself.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by Secret Alias »

And if he made a mistake? What? He's human? His study of Didymus is great. I'm ok with small mistakes. Doesn't mean he's on the same level as participants in this forum. It's not "oh he cited a source incorrectly THEREFORE there's no difference between him and mountainman or Giuseppe in terms of objectivity."
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neilgodfrey
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by neilgodfrey »

Secret Alias wrote: Tue Sep 20, 2022 7:34 pm And if he made a mistake? What? He's human? His study of Didymus is great. I'm ok with small mistakes. Doesn't mean he's on the same level as participants in this forum. It's not "oh he cited a source incorrectly THEREFORE there's no difference between him and mountainman or Giuseppe in terms of objectivity."
No, SA. It means he was careless and appears to have relied on a memory of what he thought he once read somewhere else --- and you can see the reactions of the scholar personally affected and one of his supporters. It's the sort of mistake a scholar does not make in supposedly peer-reviewed work. His peers attempted to cover and make excuses for him but it is clear what they thought of Ehrman's efforts. As Welborn said, he would have passed it over and ignored it if ... Please read how serious the lazy and irresponsible error is.

It also tends to support the evident case against Ehrman that he did not read all of the works he claimed to have read in another work I mentioned.

An example of an honest mistake by a scholar is getting a chapter and verse for a text wrong, or confusing the dates of two similar sources, or getting a page reference wrong. Those are the sorts of errors one finds in published works and theses and they are forgivable if not too frequent. But not to attribute an argument to a person who actually argues the virtual opposite, nor especially to attribute such a blatantly false view to a scholar who made significant inroads into the scholarly research on 1 Clement.

I could also add to this thread other scholars pointing out that Ehrman has failed to keep up with the scholarship in his field and has produced some less than average quality books in recent years as a result.

You are the one who is putting words or thoughts into my mouth -- which is the sort of thing Ehrman has falsely done with Welborn. But with Ehrman I tend to think it is his feeling too comfortable and resting on his laurels. With you, it's evident malice and deliberate twisting of what I wrote.

I have high respect for some of Ehrman's earlier work and have cited it often. But I have also seen outright dishonesty, bizarre illogic and hubris in some of his later works. (He even wrote that he believed he was the first scholar to have set out a systematic case for the historicity of Jesus.)

If you want others to think of you as scholarly in efforts then you can stop your tired repetitive ridicule of ideas you find out of left field, your blatant insults against persons who pose arguments you have no time for and your gratuitous sexual analogies and actually address their arguments squarely or shut up. Name-dropping your academic "friends" is no substitute.
Paul the Uncertain
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by Paul the Uncertain »

Secret Alias wrote: Tue Sep 20, 2022 7:34 pm And if he made a mistake? What? He's human?
I've had occasion to contemplate a more egregious mistake than some others, Ehrman's conflation of two separate pairs of letters into one pair, the notorious "Letter 10" of Pliny to Trajan of Did Jesus Exist?, especially chapter 2.

https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/202 ... an-origen/

And you're right, to err is human. The blog piece places Ehrman's error in context with what I believe are similar errors by Origen and Jerome (and on days when I feel charitable even by Eusebius). In other words, the problem is timeless, not any novel personal failing peculiar to Ehrman.

Of course, this diagnosis assumes that Ehrman and these authors actually had read what they discussed, and the fault lies with the limitations of unaided human long-term memory. Given the many similarities between the misrecollections and the received sources, however, it is highly likely that all of them, including Ehrman, did in fact read what they said they read in the cases I discussed.

With respect to smaller errors, like a simple miscitation, I think we have a hint about mechanism from the "Acknowledgments" section of DJE?. Two student research assistants from two separate institutions are acknowledged by name. It follows that Ehrman's role in the production of that work was not that of a sole practitioner, but rather he served as a manager of information production.

His memory still plays a role: he vets what his assistants provide him. It must in some sense appear plausible to him if he then uses it in his publication. If he is not checking personally, then the basis of its plausible appearance would seem to be memory of what he'd read.

It is possible that some of the research assistants' product was entirely unknown to him personally, but unlikely that all of it would be after decades of active leadership in his field. How any reader would know that a small (i.e. involving a single word) error would be due to ignorance rather than misrecollection is unclear.

Meh, I know which theory makes the better headline.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

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If you want others to think of you as scholarly in efforts then you can stop your tired repetitive ridicule of ideas you find out of left field
No there is stupid. The forum has lots of stupid ideas. If stupid ideas were profitable this forum would be trading on the New York stock exchange. The fact that Ehrman made some mental slips doesn't put him on the same level as the mountainman ... as much as you would like to make that true.
rgprice
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by rgprice »

Secret Alias wrote: Wed Sep 21, 2022 7:07 am No there is stupid. The forum has lots of stupid ideas. If stupid ideas were profitable this forum would be trading on the New York stock exchange. The fact that Ehrman made some mental slips doesn't put him on the same level as the mountainman ... as much as you would like to make that true.
Well but... Posting on a forum and publishing a credentials book are two very different things, with very different bars.

I think you have a somewhat valid point. Yes, to err is human. I know I contribute to the many stupid ideas on the forum, but this is a place for trying out stupid ideas.

I've seen tons of errors in Ehrman's work, and many, many, many gaps of logic. I still utilize his work, but you have to be very careful with it. I recall (yes, I'm working from memory, now I'm doing it) a case that stood out to me where Ehrman was talking about whether there was in a fact a brother of Jesus named James, and as support for such a conclusion he cited Acts! Now of course Acts mentions two people names James, but at no point does Acts ever say that either James was a brother of Jesus. Instead of supporting his position, Acts actually contradicts it!
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Secret Alias
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by Secret Alias »

I agree that this is the place to test ideas. If everyone at this forum was 'honest' in this way it would be great. In sports terms this would be a free 'pick up game' as it were. But this isn't what everyone does. mountainman has had his 4th century conspiracy theory FLAT OUT disproved by a fragment of the Diatessaron at Dura Europos. There's nothing more to say on the idea that Christianity was wholly invented by the circle of Constantine in the fourth century. But he's still here acting promoting an idea that can't be right. So too with those who promote Eisenmann's theory. Or those who act as if the Church Fathers have no bearing or 'any input' into what Christianity might have looked like in the second and third centuries. And then there are those who were former evangelists for Jesus who now 'evangelize' for a radical form of atheism that just wants to harm their former religion. Not everyone here is just 'trying out' ideas. The fact that Ehrman who has proven his abilities in his early works happens to believe that Jesus was a historical person makes him a marked man at this forum. I don't see it that way. The idea that Jesus was a historical person is never going to be a stupid idea because it has such a long established history. I don't happen to agree with that POV. But I have to recognize that it is never stupid or at least not as stupid as those who promote ANY MYTHICIST THEORY which helps destroy Christianity as if destroying Christianity was 'in itself' a good thing.
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Giuseppe
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by Giuseppe »

Any mythicist theory that fits (is an instance of) the Carrier's minimal paradigm from deity to man is very worthy of investigation.

I don't include among them the mythicist theories about Jesus having a previous name in the epistles, sorry, since the interest is to focus on the origins of the Jesus myth, not on some other deity.
StephenGoranson
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by StephenGoranson »

We all make mistakes.
Two selected mistakes of mine here were giving a wrong name to a Hasmonean under discussion and sloppily writing that R. Gmirkin did not recognize writing on silver amulets as writing (which I assumed could be understood) rather than explicitly writing that he meant that the writing merely, in his opinion, attested to words that were essentially not written but transmitted as oral.

Neil wrote (Aug. 12) that another poster wrote that he "did say you and he made a good team, or something like that." I checked for "team" and did not find that; the "something like" is vague and plainly showed no source checking.

Peer review is not perfect. I was turned down by one reader at journal X twice, but the editor encouraged submitting elsewhere; each were gratefully accepted at journals Y and Z. Those who lecture here about proper scholarly and academic procedure might do well to cite their peer-reviewed publications to be checked, or perhaps admit unfamiliarity.

My first Revue de Qumran publication arrived as I was gainfully employed not in university but in construction.

Some errors may be bigger than others. For example:
a) The claim of proving a negative that Jesus did not exist.
b) The claim that Constantine (or another emperor) basically invented Christianity.
c) The claim that the Torah books were all written all at once.

These errors are simplistic assertions, belied imo by complex history and thick description.
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Secret Alias
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Re: Bart Ehrman -- another instance of not reading what he cites

Post by Secret Alias »

Has Neil ever published anything? It's one thing to broadcast 'ideas' because 'ideas' are never wrong. The footnotes in a peer reviewed article! The formatting! The truth is I am eternally grateful to all my reviewers who rejected the dozen or so papers I've tried to publish over the year. I admit it. They were right. I was wrong. In everyone of those papers were mistakes. Thank god I am not Ehrman whom (I would assume) editors assume 'knows what he is talking about.' Sure he's 'knows what he is talking about' in the broadest sense. But it is amazing how inaccurate our memories become as we get older. I assume things which aren't true or were remembered incorrectly. Just the facts of life. Has no bearing on our worth as thinkers. At least I hope so. Maybe that assumption is a product of cognitive decline too.

As I get older I sometimes think of myself as being trapped in a kind of 'nether reality' of cognitive decline. I am fully functional. I can do most things. But I recognize I am not as good at doing them as I once was. I remember my Dad had the same awareness. We used to laugh at him for noticing it. Now I notice it about myself. Just little things for now. I am a rundown version of what I once was. Sometimes for the better. Mostly for the worse.
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