Thursday, March 16, 2006

Ehrman Omelette

Kellen uses the eggs-in-one-basket analogy to describe how "controversial" (read: cha-ching) scholar Bart Ehrman, who put all his eggs in the biblicist basket, lost his faith. I will henceforth refer to this dilemma as the "Ehrman omelette," if only because the convertible BMW mentioned in the article reminds me that he sure has made the most of those sadly broken eggs.

It was an unnamed PTS professor who cracked the egg that remained with the words, "Maybe Mark made a mistake." The interesting thing for PTS to ask itself (as if an institution could ask itself something, but still) is whether or not Ehrman represents a failure or a success. If PTS is committed to the church Ehrman is a serious failure. If PTS is committed to the academy (and if the academy is measured by publication) Ehrman is a booming success. It's a straight question I'd love to hear an answer to, but doubt I will - for like I said, hard to ask a question to an institution. Maybe it's a question each person associated with that institution needs ask themselves.

The basket labelled "Great Tradition" sure would have helped Ehrman's faith mature beyond his conversion as a 15-year-old, and I hope it still can. But just like some children don't get inocculated against curable diseases and consequently die from them, so some Christians don't realize early on that tough questions are nothing new, and before you know it, well, you know the story.

It also sure helps to remember that the person who (I am told) advised Ehrman's dissertation is a much greater scholar (I'm sure Ehrman would agree) and still has his eggs intact. A well confirmed local legend has it that one student asked Bruce Metzger once whether or not he memorized the entire Greek New Testament. Metzger's answer: "Most of the variants."

Wait, you mean you can be intimately aware of Scriptural manuscript variants and not lose your faith? Uhh... yes. You might not get the beamer, but that's alright.

I bet Ehrman would prefer to have back his eggs.