Did Jesus Exist?

Bart Ehrman has published yet another book on Jesus: Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.

Ehrman is a New Testament scholar who has published many books on Jesus and the New Testament that are aimed at a general audience.  He started out as a fundamentalist, attending Moody Bible Institute, but then moved on to Evangelical Christianity and graduated from Wheaton College in 1978. He received his PhD and M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary. After being a liberal Christian for more than a decade, he left the Christian faith, and now considers himself an “agnostic with atheist leanings” (Did Jesus Exist?, p.5)

Ehrman defends the historicity of Jesus, but does so from a fairly skeptical viewpoint about the historical reliability of the Gospels.  Ehrman, for example, concedes that there are no eyewitness accounts of the life and ministry of Jesus (p.46-47), and thus that none of the Gospels was written by a disciple of Jesus or an eyewitness of the life and ministry of Jesus.

The books seems interesting and somewhat unique based on a couple of observations Ehrman makes:

1. NT scholars do not take mythicists (those who argue that Jesus never existed) seriously. (p.20)
2. Some mythicists (e.g. G.A. Wells, Robert Price, Earl Doherty, and Richard Carrier) deserve to be taken seriously.(p.21 and 30).

Ehrman is right on both accounts, so he is attempting to fill this gap, and to present an intelligent and critical defense of the historicity of Jesus, and to do so while taking seriously the arguments and objections of the intelligent defenders of the mythicist view.

I have just started reading Ehrman’s book, so I don’t know how well he does filling the gap that he is attempting to fill, but I suspect he will do better than anyone has up until now.