How Bart Ehrman turns differences into contradictions
Did the women at the tomb of Jesus see a man at the tomb, two men, or two angels? It doesn’t depend on which Gospel you read, but how you read the Gospels.
by Erik Manning
Here is a favorite ploy of skeptics and critics of the four gospels: Find two stories that use different words, give different details, name different people and emphasize different things. Throw a flag and cry ‘contradiction!’
But differences in the account aren’t necessarily contradictions. Bart Ehrman has made a career of claiming otherwise. Here is a snippet of Bart in his debate on the resurrection with William Lane Craig:
Read one story in Matthew, then the same story in Mark, and compare your two stories and see what you come up with. You come up with major differences . . . Did they see a man, did they see two men, or did they see an angel? It depends on which gospel you read.
Bart throws out an entire grocery list of alleged contradictions in this debate. However, I just want to address this one about the angels at the tomb to highlight that differences do not necessarily equal contradictions. To claim otherwise is to give an uncharitable reading of the text at best, and is at worst intellectual dishonesty. It’s just a bad sales technique for skepticism. Yet this is Bart’s schtick.
Let’s look at the texts in question…