Bart D. Ehrman

"Ehrman" redirects here. For the British historian, see John Ehrman.
Bart D. Ehrman
Born (1955-10-05) October 5, 1955
Lawrence, Kansas, United States
Nationality American
Education BA (1978), MDiv (1981), PhD (1985)
Alma mater Moody Bible Institute
Wheaton College
Princeton Theological Seminary
Employer The Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Known for New Testament authentication and textual variants, historical Jesus, early Christian writings, orthodox corruption of scripture.
Spouse(s) Sarah Beckwith
Children Kelly and Derek

Bart Denton Ehrman (/bɑːrt ˈərmən/; born October 5, 1955) is an American professor and scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is one of North America's leading scholars in his field, having written and edited 30 books, including three college textbooks. He has also achieved acclaim at the popular level, authoring five New York Times bestsellers. Ehrman's work focuses on textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the development of early Christianity.


Ehrman grew up in Lawrence, Kansas, and attended Lawrence High School, where he was on the state champion debate team in 1973. He began studying the Bible and its original languages at Moody Bible Institute, where he earned the school's three-year diploma in 1976.[1] He is a 1978 graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, where he received his bachelor's degree. He received his PhD and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he studied under Bruce Metzger. He received magna cum laude for both his BA in 1978 and PhD in 1985.[2]


In Misquoting Jesus Ehrman recounts becoming a born-again, fundamentalist Christian as a teenager. He recounts being certain in his youthful enthusiasm that God had inspired the wording of the Bible and protected its texts from all error.[1] His desire to understand the original words of the Bible led him to the study of ancient languages and also textual criticism. During his graduate studies, however, he became convinced that there are contradictions and discrepancies in the biblical manuscripts that could not be harmonized or reconciled. He remained a liberal Christian for 15 years but later became an agnostic atheist after struggling with the philosophical problems of evil and suffering.[1]

Ehrman has taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill since 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies. He was the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope "Spirit of Inquiry" Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.[2]

Ehrman currently serves as co-editor of the series New Testament Tools, Studies, and Documents (E. J. Brill), co-editor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae, and on several other editorial boards for journals and monographs. Ehrman formerly served as President of the Southeast Region of the Society of Biblical Literature, chair of the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society, book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature, and editor of the monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers (Scholars Press).[2]

Ehrman speaks extensively throughout the United States and has participated in many public debates, including debates with William Lane Craig, Dinesh D'Souza, Mike Licona, Craig A. Evans, Daniel B. Wallace, Richard Swinburne, Peter J. Williams, James White, Darrell Bock, Michael L. Brown and Robert M. Price.

In 2006 and 2009 he appeared on The Colbert Report,[3][4] as well as The Daily Show,[5] to promote his books Misquoting Jesus, and Jesus, Interrupted (respectively).

Ehrman has appeared on the History Channel, the National Geographic Channel, Discovery Channel, A&E, Dateline NBC, CNN, and NPR's Fresh Air and his writings have been featured in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post.[6]


Ehrman has written widely on issues of New Testament and early Christianity at both an academic and popular level, with 30 books including three college textbooks and five New York Times bestsellers: Misquoting Jesus,[7] Jesus, Interrupted,[8] God's Problem,[9] Forged,[10][11] and How Jesus Became God.[12] Much of his work is on textual criticism and the New Testament. His books have been translated into 27 languages.

In The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, Ehrman argues that there was a close relationship between the social history of early Christianity and the textual tradition of the emerging New Testament. He examines how early struggles between Christian "heresy" and "orthodoxy" affected the transmission of the documents. Ehrman is often considered a pioneer in connecting the history of the early church to textual variants within biblical manuscripts and in coining such terms as "proto-orthodox Christianity".[13]

In Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Ehrman argues that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher and that his main message was that the end of history was near, that God would shortly intervene to overthrow evil and establish his rule on earth, and that Jesus and his disciples all believed these end time events would occur in their lifetimes.[14]

In Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, Ehrman expands on his list of ten historical and factual inaccuracies in Dan Brown's novel, previously incorporated in Dan Burstein's Secrets of the Code.[15]

In Misquoting Jesus, Ehrman introduces New Testament textual criticism. He outlines the development of New Testament manuscripts and the process and cause of manuscript errors in the New Testament.[16][17]

In Jesus, Interrupted, he describes the progress scholars have made in understanding the Bible over the past two hundred years and the results of their study, results which are often unknown among the population at large. In doing so, he highlights the diversity of views found in the New Testament, the existence of forged books in the New Testament which were written in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later, and his belief that Christian doctrines such as the suffering Messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the Trinity were later inventions.[18][19]

In Forged, Ehrman posits some New Testament books are literary forgeries and shows how widely forgery was practiced by early Christian writers—and how it was condemned in the ancient world as fraudulent and illicit.[20] His scholarly book, Forgery and Counterforgery, is an advanced look at the practice of forgery in the NT and early Christian literature. It makes a case for considering falsely attributed or pseudepigraphic books in the New Testament and early Christian literature "forgery", looks at why certain New Testament and early Christian works are considered forged, and the broader phenomenon in the Greco-Roman world.[21]

In 2012, Ehrman published Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, defending the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth in contrast to the mythicist theory that Jesus is an entirely fictitious being.[22]

2014 saw the publication of How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee which examines the historical Jesus, who according to Ehrman neither thought of himself as God nor claimed to be God, and how he came to be thought of as the incarnation of God himself.[23]

In his latest book, Jesus Before the Gospels, he examines the early Christian oral tradition and its role in shaping the stories about Jesus we encounter in the New Testament.[24]


Ehrman has been the recipient of the 2009 J. W. Pope "Spirit of Inquiry" Teaching Award, the 1993 UNC Undergraduate Student Teaching Award, the 1994 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching.[2]

Daniel Wallace has praised Ehrman as "one of North America’s leading textual critics" and describes him as "one of the most brilliant and creative textual critics I have ever known".[25] Wallace argues, however, that in Misquoting Jesus Ehrman sometimes "overstates his case by assuming that his view is certainly correct."[25] For example, Wallace asserts that Ehrman himself acknowledges the vast majority of textual variants are minor, but his popular writing and speaking sometimes makes the sheer number of them appear to be a major problem for getting to the original New Testament text.[25]

Ehrman's The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings is widely used at American colleges and universities.[26][27] The textbook holds to a traditional interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas in the context of second-century Christian gnosticism, and has been criticized by Elaine Pagels for this reason.[28]

Andreas J. Köstenberger, Darrell L. Bock and Josh D. Chatraw have disputed Ehrman's depiction of scholarly consensus, saying: "It is only by defining scholarship on his own terms and by excluding scholars who disagree with him that Ehrman is able to imply that he is supported by all other scholarship."[29] Michael R. Licona, notes, however, that "his thinking is hardly original, as his positions are those largely embraced by mainstream skeptical scholarship".[27]

Gary Kamiya states in Salon that "Ehrman’s scholarly standing did not soothe the evangelical Christians who were outraged by “Misquoting Jesus.” Angered by what they took to be the book’s subversive import, they attacked it as exaggerated, unfair and lacking a devotional tone. No less than three books were published in response to Ehrman’s tome".[30] In 2014, Zondervan published How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature: A Response to Bart D. Ehrman as a companion volume to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God. According to the authors - including Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, and Simon Gathercole - Ehrman is "prone to profound confusion, botched readings and scholarly fictions."[31]

Speaking to CNN, Rev. Guy Williams, a blogger and a Methodist minister in Houston said of Ehrman "His take on the scriptures is a gift to the church because of his ability to articulate questions and challenges. It gives us an opportunity to wrestle with the [Bible's] claims and questions."[32] Michael F. Bird observes, however, that "for conservative Christians, Ehrman is a bit of a bogeyman, the Prof. Moriarty of biblical studies, constantly pressing an attack on their long-held beliefs about God, Jesus, and the Bible". He notes, however, that "For secularists, the emerging generation of “nones” (who claim no religion, even if they are not committed to atheism or agnosticism) Ehrman is a godsend."[33]



  1. 1 2 3 Ehrman, Bart D.. Misquoting Jesus, HarperSanFrancisco. 2005. ISBN 0-06-073817-0
  2. 1 2 3 4 Official website Bart Ehrman – Biography
  3. "Bart Ehrman". The Colbert Report. June 20, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  4. "Bart Ehrman". The Colbert Report. April 9, 2009. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  5. "Bart Ehrman". The Daily Show. March 14, 2006. Retrieved October 19, 2013.
  7. Dwight Garner (April 2, 2006). "Inside the List: The Agnostic". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  8. Jennifer Schuessler (March 19, 2009). "Inside the List: Honest to Jesus". The New York Times. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  9. "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction (March 9, 2008)". The New York Times. March 9, 2008. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  10. "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction: Sunday, April 10th 2011". The New York Times. April 10, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2013.
  11. Official website Bart Ehrman – Main Page
  12. Cowles, Gregory (April 13, 2014). "Best Sellers: Hardcover Nonfiction (April 13, 2014)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 17, 2014.
  13. Collins, Raymond F. "The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture". Journal of Early Christian Studies.
  14. Ehrman, Bart D. (1999). Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 3. ISBN 0195124731.
  15. Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine. Oxford University Press. pp. xiii.
  16. Garner, Dwight (April 2, 2006). "Inside the List". New York Times. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  17. Gross, Terry. "Bart Ehrman's 'Misquoting Jesus'". NPR. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  18. Barlow, Rich (May 6, 2009). "Book review: Turning a critical eye to the Bible". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  19. Blake, John (May 15, 2009). "Former fundamentalist 'debunks' Bible". CNN. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  20. "Half of New Testament forged, Bible scholar says". CNN. May 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-05-17. CNN book review article summarizing Ehrman's claim that much of the New Testament was written as a forgery.
  21. "Forgery and Counterforgery. The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics". Oxford University Press. Retrieved May 24, 2014.
  22. Ehrman, Bart D. (2013-03-20). "Did Jesus Exist?". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on July 3, 2016. Retrieved 2014-04-08.
  23. "How Jesus Became God". NPR. Retrieved July 14, 2014.
  24. Ehrman, Bart D. "Jesus Before the Gospels - Bart D. Ehrman - Hardcover". HarperCollins US. Retrieved 2016-10-30.
  25. 1 2 3 Daniel B. Wallace, "The Gospel According to Bart: A Review Article of Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 49/2 (June 2006) 327–49.
  26. Kirk, Alan (1 December 2010). Holmén, Tom; Porter, Stanley E., eds. Handbook for the Study of the Historical Jesus (4 Vols). BRILL. p. 822. ISBN 90-04-16372-7.
  27. 1 2 Licona, Michael (1 March 2012). Copan, Paul; Lane Craig, William, eds. Come Let Us Reason: New Essays in Christian Apologetics. B&H Publishing Group. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-4336-7599-7.
  28. Elaine Pagels 2015 (lecture). "Price Lecture: Elaine Pagels" on YouTube (15:42~15:55) Trinity Church Boston. Accessed August 30, 2016.
  29. Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Bock, Darrell L.; Chatraw, Josh D. (2014). Truth in a Culture of Doubt: Engaging Skeptical Challenges to the Bible. B&H Publishing Group. p. 34. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
  30. Kamiya, Gary. "Jesus is just alright with him". Salon. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  31. "Bart Ehrman's 'How Jesus Became God' Book Will Be Instantly Rebutted By 'How God Became Jesus'". Huffington Post. 25 March 2014. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  32. Blake, John (May 15, 2009). "Former fundamentalist 'debunks' Bible". CNN. Retrieved 30 August 2016.
  33. Bird, Michael F.; Evans, Craig A.; Gathercole, Simon; Hill, Charles E.; Tilling, Chris (25 March 2014). How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart Ehrman. Zondervan. ISBN 978-0-310-51961-4.

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