If you don’t get a chance to read Bart Ehrman’s new How Jesus Became God (and the response book, How God Became Jesus) – or even if you do! – make sure to check out the radio debate between Ehrman and Simon Gathercole (Cambridge NT scholar and contributor to response book).
I think listening to Ehrman helped me better see how all the pieces of his book chapters fit together and also how he responds to somewhat obvious criticisms (esp re: historical Jesus/Synoptics and Pauline Christology). Having said that, I thought Gathercole was very quick on his feet and responded forcefully against Erhman’s arguments without coming across as saint vs. sinner. I think Gathercole was exactly the right person for this debate as he is one of the sharpest minds in biblical scholarship today and has put a lot of thought in Christology questions.
At the end of it all, I was just so pleased at how the tone was very respectful on both sides and there was a lot of laughing and joking. Radio host Justin Brierley should be commended for his hospitality and his astute role as facilitator.
So, who won the debate? I don’t think this program worked that way. I think the greatest benefits were (1) seeing some of the weak points in Ehrman’s argument, (2) seeing where the agreements lie between Ehrman and Gathercole, and (3) recognizing how multifaceted and complex was the theistic world of the NT and the language and thoughts of the NT writers. I think these complexities make Ehrman’s theory possible, but it simply does not rule out the more orthodox perspective. At the same time, Gathercole could not “prove” the orthodox view over and against Ehrman. Not sure if you should call it “faith” at the end of the day, but definitely there are educational guesses and assumptions on both sides! Enjoy!