Jesus, Interrupted And Bart Ehrman – A Tarheel Turncoat

October 24th, 2010

I read Bart Erhman’s Misquoting Jesus last Spring and then attended a debate in Overland Park that featured Bart and some other guy.  The two men debated whether or not the hundreds of thousands of editing mistakes (both honest and dishonest)  in the bible throughout time are enough to cause one to question the inerrancy of scripture. In Ehrman’s latest book, Jesus, Interrupted, he covers much of the same material, but he switches out his close-up lens for a wide angle, steps back and looks at the bigger picture of historical Christianity and how it slowly evolved over hundreds of years into the faith that it is today.

Ehrman lines the four gospels up side by side (by side by side) and points out how the various view points in each book depict a very different Christ and very different version of Christianity.  He also talks a lot about the forgeries in the Bible – yes, the forgeries.  Many of the books in the New Testament are a type of forgery, as they are either credited to people who could not possibly have written them (for instance the illiterate fisherman disciples for whom the the gospels are named) or purposely claim to be written by someone who almost certainly did not write them such as the apostle Paul in Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus.  Ehrman explains how scholars determine what is a forgery in ancient documents and also discusses how they were not uncommon at all and why people pretended to be someone they weren’t when writing epistles.

Ehrman insists that almost all clergy today are taught in seminary about the forgeries, the textual variants, the other versions of Christianity that existed early on (like the Jesus whose head was in the heavens when he emerged from the tomb) and yet they rarely inform their congregations about any of these discrepancies.  Because hey!  Who’s gonna show up for an hour long service on Sunday morning based around a book that one has been taught is largely unreliable?

I totally concur with Bart and am with him 100 percent in this book.

Until page 174.

For it is on this page that Ehrman falls victim to either outright forgery or a sly textual variant, when he states….

There is no doubt in my mind that my basketball team, the Carolina Tar heels, lost in the Final Four to the Kansas Jayhawks last month (April 2008).  I hate to admit it and I wish I were wrong, but the evidence (videotapes, newspaper reporting, eyewitness testimony) is simply too strong.  Some people in Kansas might think that the results were miraculous and some in Carolina might that that they were the result of evil cosmic powers, but the results seem clear.


Ehrman grew up in LAWRENCE, KANSAS home to the KANSAS JAYHAWKS!

How can he be a TARHEEL FAN!?!?!?!?!?

How does he not bleed crimson and blue?

How can he turn his back on the college where BASKETBALL WAS BORN for a baby blue usurper that stole our coach!

Or was Bart involved in the hijacking of Roy Williams?

Did he use his dark atheistic leaning super powers to hypnotize Williams away from KU?

Does anyone care?

Not any more buddy.

Bill Self is totally better and like Bart said – we did beat North Carolina in the National Championship.

Indisputable evidence!  Filmed at Allen Field House during the game.

Despite being a Tarheel turncoat, Ehrman is a clear concise writer who has a gift for plainspeak which makes his books enjoyable to read while percolating the gray matter at the same time.  I wish every church in America would make his books required reading, but I can certainly see why they don’t.  There is nothing more scarily tenuous than a bunch of Christians who truly understand their faith.

Except for maybe a Tarheel fan who grew up in Lawrence, Kansas.


  • Robbyn:

    Yup, Ehrman’s book was one of several that were responsible for my taking responsibility for my christian beliefs in the past, examining them honestly, asking the taboo questions that get egg in the face simply for the asking, and well…now I’m a Jew. Which was, in fact, what Jesus always was and never claimed to the contrary…(just a little aside there…) What most christians don’t seem to realize is that what he called the scriptures were the existing Hebrew scriptures. There was no “new testament” and they didn’t come along for quite some time afterward and nor did he authorize any new scriptures much less a new religion or anything resembling replacement theology/christianity. OK, crawling back into my cave of obscurity now…

  • km:

    I picked this book up a few months ago As I was paying for it I thought of you and wondered if you had it yourself.
    During the Dark Ages the island of Ireland was, for once, relatively peaceful and full of monasteries where the scriptorum was in full work mode 24 hours a day. As a child in school I was always fond of learning about the poems and phrases that the poor bored monks and trainees wrote in the margins, breaking up the tedium of copying and making new vellum books of holy works. Our stories and poems were largely oral tradition in those days so these little nuggets of with and beauty are such great treasures.
    Knowing the wit of some of these scamps in the monasteries, rich guy’s sons, I’m sure they messed around with a word or two here and there in those manuscripts and then sent them off with the missionary monks, chuckling as the tonsured heads of the crew disappeared across the sea:)

  • Thanks for the review. Got it reserved for pick-up at Borders.

    With affection,

    A long-time admirer / lurker

  • Kay in KCMO:

    Rechelle, we didn’t beat NC in the National Championship, we beat Memphis. We destroyed, DESTROYED NC in the Final Four. And Bill Self is, like, totally awesome. And how anyone can grow up in Lawrence and be a Tarheel fan is just unimaginable. Ehrman shows such poor judgment in this that I might not read his books now; he can’t be trusted.

    • Rechelle:

      I totally agree with you Kay. I no longer regard him as a credible source for anything – much less shattering long held biblical mythology! ;)

  • amy:

    I like many of Ehrman’s books. This one is probably my favorite.

    I’m not a huge basketball fan but my 81 year old mom (die-hard OSU basketball fan that she is) would claim Bill Self as an Oklahoma State Cowboy :)

  • Mary:

    Actually, basketball was born in Ramsay township, near Almonte, Ontario (Canada) by Dr. James Naismith. Yep…in Canada.

    • bPer:

      Nope. Naismith was born there, but invented basketball in the States.

      There’s an Ontario Historical Plaque by the side of the highway at the site of Naismith’s boyhood home. I used to pass by it regularly on my way to an astronomical observatory, and one time I stopped to read the plaque. The link above has the details, if you’re interested. If you’re really interested, you can enter the coordinates found at the link into Google Maps and use StreetView to gawk at the house just south of where the coordinates take you.


  • km:

    I heard that James Naismith the Canadian invented the game of basketball in 1891 when he was employed at the YMCA College at Springfield, Massachusetts, hence the basektball hall of fame in Springfield (and little else there I might add, sniffs her CT nose…)

  • Rechelle:

    KM and Mary – I was speaking of the ‘second birth’. The point in basketball’s life when it was ‘born again’. Basketball’s spiritual re-birth occurred when it entered into a soul saving relationship with a goofy looking bird deity called a Jayhawk and that happened in Lawrence Kansas.

    Because as I am sure you are aware, ‘no man can re-enter his mother’s womb’.

    • Mary:

      ‘born again’?…well that’s a different story.