Tough Questions Answered has first report of Licona/Ehrman debate!

Here is their commentary on the recent Licona vs. Ehrman debate at SES. And they didn’t even tell me about it, I had to find it myself. Those meanies!

Excerpt from their awesome post-debate report:

Here is my summary of the arguments that each of them presented.

Licona opened the debate with a historical argument that goes like this.  First, he argued, virtually all historians (close to 100%) agree on three key facts about Jesus:

  1. He died by crucifixion.
  2. His disciples believed they saw Jesus appear several times after he died.
  3. The apostle Paul believed he saw Jesus appear after he died.

Then, Licona explained that the historian’s job was to figure out the best explanation of these three facts.  There are four criteria that the professional historian should use to judge possible explanations of the facts:

  1. explanatory scope
  2. explanatory power
  3. plausibility
  4. less ad hoc

I read their post, and it sounds like Bart Ehrman made his standard discredited case based on 1) manuscript variants and 2) David Hume’s argument against miracles. He doesn’t even care that he lost his debate against Craig with these exact same arguments.

As I reported before:

In Ehrman’s debate with Peter Williams on the UK-based Unbelievable radio show, and in Ehrman’s debate with Dan Wallace, Ehrman lists the 4 worst problems caused by the invariants:

  1. the woman caught in adultery (John 7:53-8:11) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  2. the long ending of Mark (Mark 16:9-20) is a late addition not present in the earliest manuscripts
  3. Jesus was angry and not compassionate when he healed the leper (Mark 1:41)
  4. that Jesus died apart from God, and not by the grace of God (Hebrews 2:9)

Now I have to tell you, these disputes are irrelevant to standard Christian doctrine. Also, I personally prefer the woman at the well story being left out, and I prefer angry Jesus in 3). Why? Because I am snarky. The only variant that bugs me is the ending in Mark, because I liked the long ending. But none of these “worst cases” affects anything that Mike Licona might say on behalf of the resurrection, which is what the debate is supposed to be about, right?

That post also had some links to other debates on the resurrection. Furthermore, in previous debates, Ehrman’s argument against miracles is really just David Hume’s argument against miracles, which even non-Christian scholars, like John Earman, have defeated at the highest level here:

Here is an another interesting part of part one of TQA’s report (part two is forthcoming, they say!):

Interestingly, Ehrman did fully accept Licona’s three facts about Jesus as historically true.  He just didn’t accept the explanation of Jesus rising from the dead to explain those facts.  His favorite explanation seemed to be hallucinations, so the two debaters spent a lot time discussing hallucinations.

UPDATE: Part 2 of their evaluation has been posted!

Further Reading

Here are some resources related to this debate.

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