The Memory of Jesus

Hector Avalos

Jesus Before the Gospels, by Bart Ehrman (New York: HarperOne, 2016, ISBN 978-06-228520-1). 326 pp. Hardcover, $27.99.

For evangelical apologists, the search for the historical Jesus centers often on the existence of supposed witnesses very close to, or from within, his actual lifetime. Accordingly, we supposedly can trust those sources because memories would be fresh and uncorrupted.

Bart Ehrman, one of the best-selling biblical scholars of all time, provides a cogent challenge to those who equate contemporaneity with a reliable memory. Just because someone witnesses an event or hears someone speak does not mean that any corresponding memory remains unmodified when that “witness” relates or writes his or her account. That is just as true today as it was two thousand years ago.

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