Putting Bart Ehrman to the Test: Where Did the New Testament Come From?

Posted By Thomas Perez. August 20, 2016 at 6:33am. Copyright 2016.


Bart Ehrman may be the worst scholar ever, and here’s why. I don’t know why he’s quoted. Perhaps because he’s published a book or two? I guess when I’m finished with my work, people will finally quote me – looking forward to it, (sarcasm). He also tends to not keep history in focus as a whole.

In the nutshell he states that 1/3 of the New Testament (NT) is a forgery based on our earlist NT fragments discoverd. He claims that they were, more or less, written in the 4th century or so. He goes to great lengths to prove his position, often using worn out argumentative discussions and debates. His conclusions are meager to say the least. Contrary to Ehrman’s presuppositions, most scholars date the 27 Books of the NT from 51AD to 110AD (1st Cent).

Range of Dates Held By Most Scholars:

I Thess 51AD

II Thess 51-70AD

Philippians 54-55AD

Philemon 54-55AD

Gal 55AD

I & II Cor 56AD

Rom 57AD

Col 60AD

Mark 60-65AD

James 65-85AD

I Pet 75-90AD

Luke 66-68AD

Matthew 66-68AD

Eph 80-90AD

Hebrews 80-90AD

Revelation 68-95AD

John 90-110AD

Epistles of John 90-110AD

Acts 95-100AD

Titus 100AD

I & II Tim 100AD

II Pet 110AD

Jude – Uncertain.

But What of the Earliest Known Copy Fragments?

Earliest known fragments date to the 2nd Cent AD (the 100’s) and 3rd Cent AD (the 200’s). All of them date back this far – this we know. The youngest being dated to about the 3rd and 4th Cent AD (Jude), but scholars are still uncertain of Jude’s date, as mentioned above. Seems like we have a problem. None of these fragment dates match the dates commonly accepted for the NT (1st Cent AD), or do they?

Obvious Observation

Obviously, they do not date back to the 1st Cent AD. And why is that, you may ask? Answer: None of the 1st Century fragments survived, as we know of yet. Instead what we do have are early 2nd century copies. Copies that have survived and stood the test of time.

But some may ask me, “But Thomas, how do you know they were copied from earlier sources and are not really 2nd Cent books written after the Apostles died?” The answer to that question is relatively simple; that’s because they were quoted, at least 36,000 times, by the early Church fathers. Church fathers such as; Ignatius, Clement, Polycarp, etc. Moreover, they were also quoted by secular sources. Secular sources validate the lives of the early Church fathers in their documents, often in a belittling and persecuting manner. The following is a brief list of citations by the early Church fathers:

Ignatius of Antioch 35-107AD. He quotes John, James, Philemon, I & II Tim, I Pet, Matt, Lk, Rom, Eph, Rev and I & II Cor. His letters also quote them – too many to cite here.

I Clement 88-99AD. He quotes Titus, Acts, I & II Pet, Heb, I Cor, Rom, Matt, Mk, Lk and James.

Polycarp 110-135. In his letters (110-120), he quotes Matt, Mk, Lk, Rom, I Cor, Gal, Eph, Phil, II Thess, I & II Tim, Heb, I Jn, I Pet, and possibly 2 Jn.

Justin Martyr & Irenaus also quoted from them.

Thus they were becoming authoritative works. And that is why they became the accepted Canon of the NT. It met with certain criterias – like the quotations above. While others (like the Gnostic texts) were rejected due to their latter dates. However, Gnostic negations and rejections were also due in part to doctrinal and scholastic differences. 

But I personally like some of the Gnostic texts – partially because I kinda like (not necessarily believe), but like, progressive theology. One can learn alot from these writings which are also late in fragment, but never too late to be copied from an earler source as proven by the apologies (debates) thrown against them by the early Church fathers. Which actually also means that they, the Gnostics, actually existed along with their own original documents too, which all but perished, except for what we have in the Gnostic Nag Hammadi Library.

Moreover, when Ehrman is asked about the Patristic (writings of the Church fathers) evidence therein on his blog, he never really answers the question. However, he did cite an haphazardly answer that is based upon a dissertation – where he compared the NT Canon with the works of ‘Didymus the Blind’ 313-398AD.

On what premise does he perfom such a dessertation? Didymus often quoted and used other sources – like myself – so no big deal there. He was also a unversalist (like myself), often using the works of Origen, but opposed Arian and Macedonian. He was also influenced by the Stoics, Epicureans and Pathagoreans. He also quoted from various Gnostic writings and Deuterocanonical books. Moreover, Ehrman makes no mention of the following:

The following is taken from a previous article of mine called ‘Bible Versions? Text Text Text (The Uncial or the Minuscule, Which is the Oldet?’

“The Western text type (KJV) is a collection of several text type documents/manuscripts which can be found in various codex editions. The Western text type indicates a lineage, so to speak, a tracings of its authenticity. It, like the Alexandrian Text, consists of several text types used in textual criticism. It is used to describe the Geek New Testament as witnessed in the Old Latin Vulgate Bible (not to be confused with Jerome’s Latin Vulgate). Early 2nd and 3rd century Church fathers such as Cyprian, Tertullian, and Irenaeus often quoted from it.

The various text types found in the Western text are found to have many Uncial writings, such as the Four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and the book of Acts. This is found in what is known as the “Codex Bezae“ (c 400 AD 5th Cent). Another Codex Version called the “Codex Claromontanus” (c 500 AD 6th) uses the Western text format for the Pauline Epistles. Moreover, many Western text renderings and readings can be found in the old Syriac translations of the Gospels, along with the Sinaitic (c 300 AD 4th Cent) and the Curetonian, possibly predating the standard Syriac version, the Peshitta; (sometimes called the Syriac Vulgate c 150 AD 2ND Cent) and finally the Sinaitic Palimpsest (c late 390’s AD 4th Cent) though this is debated.

The King James Version or Textus Receptus is based upon a great loyal ancestry. An ancestry which not only fought the forces of that old imperialistic mystery religion, but did so convincingly with the cup of their own passion, sealed with the blood of many martyrs. The Textus Receptus is based on the following: Prior to the 20th century, all English Bibles since Tyndale’s first New Testament (1526) were based upon the Textus Receptus. This includes:

A. Tyndale’s first New Testament (1526)
B. Miles Coverdale’s Bible (1535)
C. Matthew’s Bible (1500-1555)
D. The Great Bible (1539)
E. The Geneva Version (1560)
F. The Bishops’ Bible (1568)
G. and the King James Version (1611)

Moreover, the various versions above follow the style and linguistics of these ancient versions;

2. Ancient Versions

The Peshitta Version (AD 150) The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew in the 2nd century AD. The New Testament Peshitta became the standard in the 5th Century.
The Old Latin Vulgate (AD 157)
The Italic Bible (AD 157)
The Waldensian (AD 120 & onwards)
The Gallic Bible (Southern France AD177)
The Gothic Bible (AD 330-350)
The Old Syriac Bible (AD 400),
The Armenian Bible (AD 400 There are 1244 copies of this version still in existence)
The Palestinian Syriac (AD 450)
The French Bible of Oliveton (AD 1535)
The Czech Bible (AD 1602)
The Italian Bible of Diodati (AD 1606)
The Greek Orthodox Bible (Used from Apostolic times to the present day by the Greek Orthodox Church).”

In conclusion;

The NT (the Old Testament being added) was finally approved, not completed, in 382AD. The reason it took so long is because there were the “Marcian” and other debates that slowed the process down. These things had to be voted upon by; faith, the different theologies that existed then (and still do), certain criterias, dates and authoritative citations as mentioned above.

What Ehrman is doing here is matching the date of 382 with that of Didymus, who died in 398. Something that Bruce Metzger does (Ehrman’s mentor and advisor). This is not good scholarship. Moreover, to say that the NT is based upon a forgery and Stoic Greco material is to limit your thesis and presupposition into a man who lived from 313-398AD.

Marcus Aurelius, the last of the so called “noble Roman Emperors,” so stoic was his Meditations, yet his life, more so than often, in the political arena was an antithesis of his own so called ‘Meditations.’ A fierce persecutor of the early Church, dispite the glorious reputation given to him by the movie entitled the ‘Gladiator,’ Aurelius seldom applied his stoic calm when it came to eradicating the Christians.

The claim of Ehrman upon the NT is that the writers were merely applying a stoic approach to their NT writings. Similar to that of Aurelius who applied stoicism to his own philosophical outlook on life, Ehrman is doing the same thing, to a certain extent. Again, I repeat, this is not good scholarship. It is merely an attempt by Ehrman to apply a philosophy into a field of academia – an attempt to ignore prior authenticity in order to establish his stance over what is really common historical sense. It is a synergistic claim. Synergism is a good thing, but when it is used to bolster a claim over a another, or prior claim; it then becomes tainted, like Ehrmans dissertation in school.

Or maybe it was to get in good with his Professor Bruce Metzger. Gotta get that ‘A.’

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