Sunday, 11 January 2015

Bart Ehrman on Dan Wallace's Criticism

But if there are specific attacks against me floating around the Internet, I simply don’t know it. And when I do know it, I don’t find it particularly upsetting. At least not upsetting enough to dig into what someone else is saying about me.

I’ll give a clear instance. I’ve had several public debates with my friend Dan Wallace, a professor of New Testament at the exceedingly conservative evangelical Dallas Theological Seminary. In our first debate, we were supposed to be talking about whether we can be sure that we have the original wording of the New Testament, given the fact that we don’t have the original manuscripts but only copies made, in most instances, very much later, and that these copies all differ from one another in one way or another. In the debate, I talked about this topic and gave my views about it based on my years of research. And what did Dan do? He actually didn’t talk very much about the topic. What he wanted to talk about was me, about how one thing that I said at one time contradicted something that I said at some other time – he came up with lots of these – so that I couldn’t be trusted in anything that I said.

I thought that was a rather odd way to engage in a debate, since the topic was not whether Bart Ehrman was reliable but whether the manuscripts of the New Testament were. In point of fact, I could easily defend myself against this kind of attack – a lot of what Dan has said about me over the years involves taking my comments out of context, or misrepresenting my views, or … well, there are lots of problems. But I refuse to defend myself at any length about such things. And why? Because to me, they aren’t relevant to the topic. And I have better things to do than show that Dan’s assaults on me are unfounded.

The clearest indication of the difference between Dan and me is that I would NEVER, ever read through all of the things that Dan has written, examining them down to the detail, with a fine-tooth comb, to see if something that he said in 1993 is at odds with something he said in 2004. Why would I bother to do such a thing? Why would I waste my time? Who in the world cares? If I don’t care about such things, I really don’t think others should either.

And so even though I am, in fact, pretty thin skinned, I normally simply don’t get into these kinds of arguments. [From Bart's FB]

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