an NPR Interview was recently brought to my attention by my friend Greg about an ex-evangelist who wrote a book on discrepancies in the Gospels. His name is Bart Ehrman, a religion professor at UNC, and he claims there are irreconcilable differences among the Gospels, the subject of this interview and his book, "Jesus, Interrupted."
There's a lot he has to say in this interview that seems merely to be his interpretation, and leaves out a lot of scriptural or historical support for what he is refuting.
First off, I find it reasonable to believe that Jesus was in pain on the cross, regardless of the gospel you are reading - or the explicit detail of that pain given by the author. We have to realize their audience would have already had a greater understanding of the pain of the cross that we do. It is the most painful death ever documented in human history - in fact it's own word was created to describe it: excruciating (meaning from the cross). So to argue one gospel doesn't mention pain enough is just silly.
And then there's his concern for what was said on the cross. For instance, in Mark when Jesus is quoted "my god, my god why have you forsaken me" - He is singing! It's psalm 22, a common hebrew song sung in anguish. Mark found it necessary to include that. Mark is alluding to Genesis when Adam sang to his wife in the beginning by singing before his death, connecting when sin entered the world, to Jesus's death. Mark and Luke are separate accounts, but not wrong. Jesus said many things on the cross, the gospel writers chose what was pertinent.
Also important to consider: each of the 4 Gospels had their own audience. Mark was creating an account of a king in the Roman format of caesars, and tailored what he included as such. That does not refute what he did include, though. Matthew was to the Jews, Luke was to Gentile Christians. Agendas in audience are, if anything, important to understanding a view point - not to discredit the writing.
And for the professor to use the coptic gospel as proof for his argument is not valid, because it is not supported in antiquity. The 4 gospels were eye-witness accounts, written with apostolic authority over them, and supported by the other apostles to be true events. We don't include outside gospels for many reasons I could get into another time. The professor says Jesus did not claim to be the Son of God until the end of the Gospels outside of John? Jesus is repeatedly given many titles throughout the story lines, one of which is when He calls himself the "son of man", a quote from the Prophet Daniel about the Messiah. I'm afraid his point of explicit statement of Kingship is not very sound.
He seems obsessed with semantics, but misses Jesus's meaning entirely. In many instances, Jesus could be both things this guy is arguing. Jesus could be an ethical teacher & be apocalyptic minded in his preaching because there is life here and an afterlife later, shouldn't he preach on both? It is not a bad thing for his followers to have that sense of urgency as well, because Jesus very focused on heaven and hell.
I'm disappointed by his obsession in biblical discrepancies, because the most affluent differences in the original greek copies are differences of I/we or then/when. Anything else is semantics within a translation, but the message does not change. Is sin a "transgression" or a "trespass" against God? The translation may be different, but the message has not changed.
There's a lot he leaves out in his discussion here, that may be in his books, where he claims his interpretation is one thing, but it is only that - and not necessarily founded within the passages he references, they are more or less thoughts about a concept of what might be going on.
That's all I have to say for now, but if anyone has more questions about his points, please ask