Are There Errors In The Gospels? Responding To Bart Ehrman

By Clark Bates

“I chose a passage in Mark 2, where Jesus is confronted by the Pharisees because his disciples had been walking through a grain field, eating the grain on the Sabbath.  Jesus . . . reminds them of what David had done . . . ‘When Abiathar was the high priest.’. . . One of the well-known problems of the passage is that when one looks at the Old Testament passage that Jesus is citing (1 Samuel 21:1-6), it turns out that David did not do this when Abiathar was the high priest, but, in fact, when Abiathar’s father Ahimelech was. . . the Bible is not inerrant at all but contains mistakes.”[1] – Bart Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus

In the above account of Dr. Ehrman, we read how he began his descent from Christian evangelical to skeptical agnostic.  In the introduction to his book Misquoting Jesus he goes on to relate how he desperately sought to harmonize this discrepancy, only to have his professor point out that it was more likely that Mark just “made a mistake.”

From this epiphany, Dr. Ehrman explains that he began to see many errors in the New Testament, ranging from minor variations to major adjustments.  It was here where his faith floundered.  Dr. Ehrman has since gone on to teach New Testament studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, expressly focusing his time on repeating this event in the lives of every Christian student he oversees.

Situations such as this and the flurry of internet support that they garner have furthered the hyper-skeptical attitude of a generation that cannot be ignored.  In the opening two articles of this series I sought to explain what is properly meant by the doctrine of inerrancy in regards to the Bible and the approach to textual criticism used by scholars like Dr. Ehrman, known as the historical-critical method.

This article serves as the last introductory article to the series and will discuss how the Gospels themselves should be categorized as literature.  This is vitally important for the genre of a writing determines the guidelines regarding how it can and should be interpreted…


Are There Errors In The Gospels? Responding To Bart Ehrman