risk and reward

I have no idea how I found this post, but I did, and now I'm going to pay for it.

See: I think that the right reverend iMonk has a lot of "right stuff" in that link. For example, it is for the most part neanderthal to get out the torches and the pitchforks and storm the gates of Duke U demanding that they deliver Dr. Ehrman in a cage so that we may then destroy the monster without at least doing ourselves the favor of reading the work in question. We are at out worst, culturally and ethically, when we start burning books -- figuratively and literally -- without having read them or, frankly, comparing them to what are rather vanilla claims about history which are not really in dispute.

It is also right to note that not everybody is equipped to read stuff like Ehrman's work and review it critically. For example, someone who has never read Livy or Tacitus (as two examples) -- either in a critical translation or in Dr. Brown's Latin class as an undergraduate -- probably doesn't have a lot of experience with ancient historical sources and the actual history of the first-century world. So that person is probably at a disadvantage in reading Ehrman and doesn't have the practical know-how to investigate Ehrman's claims. You know: for example, the average NPR reporter.

And in that, I have a problem with iMonk's approach to overviewing Bart Ehrman. I disagree with the idea that Ehrman is not "evangelizing" for his beliefs. In spite of Ehrman's faculty position, his view of the history of the church is problematic at best -- and not from a "it might hurt my faith" standpoint: from a "it is sloppy and glib" standpoint. It is precisely because Ehrman has a casual and superficially-dispassionate tone in his discussion that we cannot simply talk about him as if he is doing us a favor by challenging our beliefs.

Let me be clear: I don't think iMonk has endorsed Ehrman in his essay. iMonk has said that Ehrman is wrong about "a lot" of things. The question is if iMonk's essay here gives the impression that Ehrman is a merely clever foil or something more insidious.

Now talk amongst yourselves.