Wednesday, May 07, 2014

The Sirens of Ehrman and Bird

I have been apathetically watching the flurry of back and forth posts in relation to the two books that recently came out in tandem:
James McGrath gives the most recent round up of this unique event where two books are published in tandem. Here is Nijay Gupta's most recent response to McGrath. I have both books but thus far have resisted the sirens to blog about them.

Ehrman gives what was more or less the consensus forty/fifty years ago. It held that the early Christian sense of Jesus' divinity grew over time. This was still the consensus when I was entering biblical studies in the late 80s/early 90s. My sense is that Ehrman would generally fit within this older paradigm, and the work of my Doctor Father fit squarely within that consensus.

Then Larry Hurtado, Richard Bauckham, and N. T. Wright led a paradigm shift that our friends Bird, Gathercole, Tilling, Evans, and Hill have brought to the table in their response to Ehrman's book. Is it the consensus now?  It may be. It's certainly seems to be what everyone wants to hear.

I do believe faith can fit with both. The initial inclination of those who have a more or less historic faith will no doubt want Bird and company to be right. But I believe faith can fit with both the "exaltation" and the "divine identity" approaches to early Christology. After all, there is general agreement on both sides about where Christian faith ended up. This is a debate about how it got there.

So, fine, I'll listen to the sirens. I don't know how much I will blog about the books. I just don't have the energy. If at some point I think there's something palatable to share, I will. The entire conversation depresses me on multiple levels...


Anonymous said...

"The entire conversation depresses me on multiple levels..."

I suppose that if you were inclined to elaborate on that, you would have, and so I probably shouldn't ask you to elaborate. Since I have the opposite reaction, yours intrigued me.

Ken Schenck said...

Basically, I know a great deal about this subject. But I think Bauckham's stuff is confused and very frustrating... and very popular. But do I want to appear to endorse Ehrman?

I think I will respond to Ehrman's book from my own perspective. But it's hard because I don't think it will help for me to spend much time critiquing the other.

Anonymous said...

Your knowledge of this subject, along with your particular approach, is why I started following your blog:-)

Like James Dunn, James McGrath, and J.D. Kirk (to name a few), you seem quite skilled at interpreting the biblical data in light of what its original authors probably meant without respect to how it might bear on later Christological ideas.

I'd very much like to see you publish a book of your own that covers the same ground as various works by Bauckham, Hurtado, Dunn, McGrath, and now Ehrman, vis a vis the historical question of what the earliest Christians believed about Jesus and his status and relationship to the one God in the context of monotheistic faith.

~Sean Garrigan