Saturday, March 25, 2006

Maybe Mark Just Made A Mistake

I have been reading Bart Ehrman’s book, Misquoting Jesus, The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why. It’s a great book, one that I would recommend to any of you interested in bible interpretation. Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is an authority on the history of the New Testament, the early church and the life of Jesus. I am just now getting through the body of the book, but there was a part in the Introduction, where Ehrman describes his personal odyssey leading to his current views on scripture, that has stuck with me in much in the same manner as the original episode stuck with him. Upon his arrival at Princeton Theological Seminary he took a course on the exegesis of the Gospel of Mark with Professor Cullen Story. Ehrman’s final term paper was to be on an interpretive problem of his choosing and the young student proceeded to develop a “long and complicated argument” that an apparent error in scripture was really not an error at all, but a problem of interpretation. Ehrman concludes:

I was pretty sure Professor Story would appreciate the argument, since I knew him as a good Christian scholar who obviously (like me) would never think there could be anything like a genuine error in the Bible. But at the end of my paper he made a simple one-line comment that for some reason went straight through me. He wrote: “Maybe Mark just made a mistake”.

Maybe Mark just made a mistake.

Shouldn’t that be our answer to a lot of the Bible-thumping done by the Christian Right?