How do we know when an author intends their writing to be taken as literal historical fact? I think the best way to tell is to ask the author. But when we are reading the bible not only can we no longer ask the author – we may not even know who the author was and indeed there may be several. But that doesn’t mean there is not evidence which might strongly suggest what the author intended. We can get an idea based on context.
For example I have suggested that when the author of Genesis speaks of “the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil” that is strong evidence that he is not talking about a literal fruits and trees that we might find in our neighborhood.
On the other hand when John says “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31But these are written that you may believe b that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” https://www.biblehub.com/niv/john/20.htm The author is explicitly telling us his purpose of writing about these signs/miracles. That is he wants to tell us of them so that we may believe Jesus is the son of God. Of course, that implies Jesus really did miracles. The author’s ability to make up miracle stories would not be a reason we should believe Jesus is the Son of God. Only Jesus’s actual ability to work miracles would be evidence that he is the Son of God. So that context is strong evidence that the author of John intends at least some of his miracle stories to be taken as literal and historical factual occurrences.
Luke also tells us about his purpose and so we can gleen his intent to give actual facts from the work itself as well. But of the books of the bible this clear statement of intent seems to be more the exception than the rule. So we are left to rely on less probative evidence.
In my last post I argued that we shouldn’t feel we must know what the author was trying to communicate and there is no reason to presume that the intent was to give literal history. Rauser is sympathetic to non-literalist readings however he has some issues with adopting a non-literalist reading. Here I want to address what I consider what Rauser considers the biggest obstacle to interpreting these old testament passages in other than as literal historical truth. He says:
“A particularly effective way to see the problem brought to life is with the great Hall of Faith chapter of Hebrews 11 which seeks to inspire the contemporary reader with illustrations of devotion from past saints. The story begins with Abel who provided a faithful offering to God (v. 4). The narrative then recounts the faith of a long list of saintly figures including Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and Rahab and many, many others. The writer concludes, “These were all commended for their faith” (v. 39). Needless to say, the whole point of the writer to the Hebrews is that these are real people who did real things which are exemplary of faith and thus which provide inspiring guides to the disciple in our own day. Thus, if these stories are really just that, stories, mere historical fiction, then the entire chapter is evacuated of its motivational gravitas.
To illustrate, a baseball coach who wants to inspire his team may pump them up with the great achievements of Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron or Jackie Robinson. But he will not spend any time recounting the achievements of Roy Hobbs because Mr. Hobbs is a fictional character from the film The Natural (and the 1952 novel of the same name). You might invoke Hobbs to illustrate a point, but if you want to inspire an athlete you tell them the story of another real athlete: you don’t tell them a fiction. By the same token, if you want to inspire a real spiritual athlete, you tell them stories of other real spiritual athletes who accomplished great things: you don’t tell them a fiction. Why does the writer of Hebrews refer to the actual collapse of the walls of Jericho (v. 30) and the actual faith of Rahab (v. 31) if not to inspire an equivalent faith response in the reader?”
Rauser, Randal. Jesus Loves Canaanites: Biblical Genocide in the Light of Moral Intuition (pp. 206-207). 2 Cup Press. Kindle Edition.
Ok first I would concede the point that at least to our modern mind telling a story about a real person seems to be more inspirational than telling the story of a fictional person. After all there was a time when it seemed every movie would say something like “based on a true story” and the purpose of that line was to no doubt try to make the movie somehow more compelling. So I am not saying his reason supplies no evidence. But I do want carefully consider each of the claims he makes and how much weight they should carry.
In my law school ethics class, we all had to watch the movie To Kill a Mockingbird. And in particular we focused on the lawyer Atticus Finch and how he dealt with ethical issues as a lawyer. There is no question the purpose was to inspire us to act ethically as future lawyers. I had read To Kill a Mockingbird in high school and Atticus Finch played an inspirational role in my desire to be a lawyer. As I was thinking of this example I actually started to wonder if Atticus Finch was a real lawyer or at least based on a real lawyer. But before I looked it up I asked myself if I would be any more or less inspired by him if I found out he was “based on a real person.” And I honestly decided it wouldn’t matter.
I think it is a mistake to underestimate the role fiction plays in motivating and forming who we are. If I set religion aside, I suspect that most of those that inspired me are first and foremost the actual people I have encountered in life, then second stories of fictional people, and then third historical people.
Now fictional heroes become especially important when we consider these are fictional heroes whose stories were chosen by God. Whether Abel actually existed is completely unimportant to the message God is trying to convey in the story of Cain and Able. In Hebrews the author seems not so concerned that the people are becoming atheists. Rather he seems to be addressing a community of religious Jews that would know these stories. They need inspiration to help them through difficult times. They are not looking for proof that God exists. They seem to know God exists and they also seem to assume that God gave them these stories in order to help them understand what he expected from them and how he would respond. That is what was important.
They want to know that God will see them through if they continue to be faithful. Faith is belief and trust in God. They seem to mostly be concerned about the trust part. Whether these characters actually existed is irrelevant. If God tells me I should act like Atticus Finch and I will be rewarded then it doesn’t matter one bit if Atticus Finch was a real person.
Notice the last line of my quote from Rauser where he says “Why does the writer of Hebrews refer to the actual collapse of the walls of Jericho (v. 30) and the actual faith of Rahab (v. 31) if not to inspire an equivalent faith response in the reader?” I have read these passages from Hebrews several times and I never remembered the author talking about the “actual” collapse of the walls of Jericho or the “actual” faith of Rahab. So I reread to see if the passage talks about or otherwise suggests these are actual historical events or if they just repeat the story. In fact the author never says the walls “actually” fell or that there was an “actual” faith of Rahab. The author just repeats the story.
“30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell, after the army had marched around them for seven days.
31 By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient”
If I say “Atticus Finch argued in his closing argument that Tom Robbins was innocent because the victim suffered wounds to the right side of her face and he was right handed and also had limited use of his left hand.” I am not saying Atticus Finch actually existed and there was an actual trial of Tom Robbins etc. No I am simply repeating the story. There is nothing in my quoted statement that should make you think I believe I am retelling “actual” historical events. Hebrews is no different.
Now to be fair Rauser gave the “gravitas” explanation for why he thought the author of Hebrews intended these stories to be taken literally. (I addressed that argument above by explaining fictional characters can be motivational) So he may not be thinking that just because the author of Hebrews is retelling the stories that means the author of Hebrews thought they were literal historical fact. But I often see that when some other author of scripture repeats a story from some other part of scripture some people will try to argue that proves the later author thought it was a literal historical event. For example, if Jesus refers to Adam and Eve some people will try to say that proves he thought they were real people. But really Jesus may just be recounting the story from scripture.
When that happens the person arguing for a literal reading is often just projecting his own interpretation on the other scripture writer. The person is assuming the question in dispute. They think we should interpret the story literally so they think anyone retelling the story must be intending to tell it in a literal sense. But that is the question we are trying to answer!
Why do modern readers tend to assume a literal interpretation? At least two reasons lead to this assumption, first the printing press and second, Sola Scriptura. The printing press and later technology allowed us to record and reproduce a huge number of actual historical events. This meant that we can learn a large quantity of actual literal history. This means our heroes can often be real people because we have a huge catalogue of people to draw on for whatever positive trait we want to highlight. I admit in some ways that is preferable to simply fictional heroes. (but it also has drawbacks) It also means that much of what we learn is intended to be taught as literal history. It is far from clear that assumption applied in the ancient past.
Like I said if you want to know the intent the best way is to ask the author. Certainly, whoever first told the story of Adam and Eve knew it was not literal history based on eyewitnesses. It is hard to believe people who heard the story for the first time would have thought it was some sort of historical story based on eyewitness accounts. If someone told you about conversations the very first humans had wouldn’t you wonder how they could know? Again the ancient people may not have understood science but they could look at all the people around them and realize that they were pretty far removed from the very first humans. They weren’t all born yesterday. And like I said of course the original person telling the story of Adam and Eve knew it was not literal facts from eyewitnesses.
The other reason I think modern readers tend to interpret scripture literally is because of Sola Scriptura. A theme of the reformation was the bible was sufficient and we really don’t need anyone to tell us what it means. Well it seems the answer is somewhere in the middle. People can learn a huge amount from reading the bible on their own. But also it turns out there are many different possible interpretations. And that is well evidenced by all the different churches that interpreted scripture so differently than other churches they found they had to break off from the others.
What to do? Well Martin Luther had already decided he would not change his position unless you could convince him based on scripture alone. This statement was so romanticized there was no turning back. So appealing to church fathers or Tradition was out of the question. Unfortunately, the disagreements were from interpretations of scripture itself. So certain rules of interpretation started to come into favor. One of those rules has to do with defaulting to a literal reading – which I believe martin Luther endorsed.
Was this rule based on information we learned about ancient peoples that were writing or telling these stories over a millennium and a half before these rules? I doubt it. I suspect these rules have more to do with us imposing our beliefs and desires on the ancients rather than bending our beliefs and desires to the intentions of the ancient authors of scripture. But despite precious little evidence that this is actually how the ancient authors intended their works to be read this default to literal history has gained popularity. Rauser notes that it is mainly after the reformation that literal readings of some of the old testament passages were used to justify wars. That is not surprising to me.
In future blogs I will address how Rauser deals with these issues as well as some problems with how certain Catholics view these issues.
“When that happens the person arguing for a literal reading is often just projecting his own interpretation on the other scripture writer. The person is assuming the question in dispute. They are think we should interpret the story literally so they think anyone retelling the story must be intending to tell it in a literal sense. But that is the question we are trying to answer!”
yep, all theists do this, but they claim it’s only those “other” Christians who have it wrong. You again all make up what you consider literal, metaphor, etc and none of you can show your version is the true one.
When it comes to many of the books of the old testament I agree it is hard to know. I don’t claim to know for sure. But it should be obvious the original author of Genesis knew he was not writing a literal history. And I went through reasons why Luke and John did indicate they were writing literal history.
Joe, every christian claims not to be sure, but then insists that they know their version is right and everyone else’s is wrong. You all claim that “it should be obvious”, when it is anything but that to even your fellow Christians who are quite sure their versin is the right one too.
The authors of the gospel of Luke and John are unknown. We have no idea who they are or what they meant. And if we are to take them as literal history how does one do that when they each other? They may have thought they were writing literal history but nothing shows that is the case.
“The authors of the gospel of Luke and John are unknown. We have no idea who they are or what they meant. ”
I actually give reasons why we would think Luke and John intended to give us literal history. The fact that you ignore those reasons in your comment doesn’t mean they go away.
Yep, you do make claims about Luke and John being the authors and why you think whomever the authors of the gospels intended to give us literal history. The problem is that you have no evidence that they did.
“30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[d] that Jesus is the Messiah,[e] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.”
Nothing here about wanting to be history, only wanting people to believe in a story. No evidence of any of those miracles, nor of anyone noticing this character as he supposedly was wandering through Palestine with a Roman legion’s worth of men following him.
Written records of what occurred are historical evidence. Matthew Mark Luke and John are all historical evidence of what occurred during Jesus’s life.
Written claims, which is what you have, are not evidence.
Historians consider “written claims” evidence all the time. That is why “pre-history” is often defined as the time before existing written accounts that we can read.
No, Joe, they do not. They consider them claims until something else corroborates them.
“That is why “pre-history” is often defined as the time before existing written accounts that we can read.”
yeah, that has nothing to do with why written accounts aren’t considered evidence on their own.
You are just making this up. If a historian finds a written account of certain events happening then they consider it evidence that the event happened. They may not find it compelling evidence because they think other evidence whether written or archeological outweighs it. But it is still evidence. Your distinction between claims and evidence is not something historians employ.
If you wish to claim I am making something up, then show the evidence.
“IF the stories never happened, then there is no basis for your beliefs, Joe. You seem to be saying that you don’t have to accept that the authors of the OT didn’t think their stories were true since they didn’t literally write down that they were writing history.
Is this correct?””
“If you wish to claim I am making something up, then show the evidence.”
I only write blogs when I think enough people subscribe to a view I think is mistaken. Your odd view about how historians view written accounts “claims” but not “evidence” is something I have never even heard anyone say before. It is far from clear what you are even trying to say. You seem to think evidence = proof or compelling evidence.
I have posted blogs on what evidence according to the law here:
If anyone is interested. In the comments there I address these same sorts of arguments you are still making today. In this comment I gave you numerous historical sources that list written accounts as evidence:
So yes there is plenty of evidence that historians use written accounts as evidence. You just ignore it and continue to repeat the same false mantra that the accounts are just claims not evidence.
and of course Joe can’t show where I am wrong as he has claimed. if things are ever so unclear, then Joe, do tell how you know I’m wrong.
again, the accounts you have are claims, not evidence. And no matter how many pictures of books you put up, that is a fact.
“and of course Joe can’t show where I am wrong as he has claimed. if things are ever so unclear, then Joe, do tell how you know I’m wrong.
again, the accounts you have are claims, not evidence. And no matter how many pictures of books you put up, that is a fact.”
Your claim was that historians do not think written accounts are evidence unless they are corroborated by some other piece of evidence. (I guess you mean some other evidence beyond another written account since we do have 4 gospels and you don’t think any of them are evidence but regardless that is wrong)
I gave you numerous history books where the authors do take single written accounts and consider the accounts evidence of what is claimed. So either you have to say all these history professors do not know how to do history or accept that is not how history works.
And just to be clear I am not saying a report will always be “compelling” evidence. But it is often and generally considered evidence.
There are 4 gospels. 3 of them are considered to be likely coming from one source for the basics of the story. They do not agree in many ways. The other contradicts the three in many other ways. So, again, we have claims, and no evidence to corroborate them, not even amongst themselves. This is why there is the industry of apologetics where christians spend huge amounts of time trying to make up excuses for why their perfect god is so incompetent in making itself understood.
written accounts are claims until something corroborates them. This hold for Caesar, Alexander, the buddha, your christ, etc.
Yep, I can say that authors are wrong and I can show that too.
“Yep, I can say that authors are wrong and I can show that too.”
If you want to continue to think all those historians are wrong about what is considered historical evidence that is ok with me. It is a free country. At least we have identified where we disagree.
No, we’ve identified where you are wrong.
I’m sorry Joe, but you don’t get to pick and choose what you’re going to believe and what you’re not going to believe. Religions don’t work that way; you have the dogma and you get it all. How do you know that the writer(s) of Genesis were not writing literal history? I think that is a false assumption to begin with and I know that many, many Christians would disagree with you on this point. Why do we fight over teaching creationism vs evolution in the classrooms of our children? Because there are people out there – and lots of them, BTW, perhaps 40% of American Christians – believe this nonsense is to be taken literally. The fact of the matter is it is ALL mythology; all of it. Yes, there are aspects which we can glean that may have actually happened however it is all created to reinforce a belief system, a belief system you are expected to accept hook, line, and sinker.
RaPar thank you for posting.
“I’m sorry Joe, but you don’t get to pick and choose what you’re going to believe and what you’re not going to believe. Religions don’t work that way; you have the dogma and you get it all.”
You are describing what I call a top down Christian view. But I am a bottom up Christian.
In sum if someone or some group says unless I believe the first man on earth went by the name “Adam” I can not be a Christian I will just shrug. I think they are wrong. If they say well I am not wrong and you can not be a christian unless you believe what I say. Again I do not know what I am supposed to do with these people other than shrug and say well I think we just have difference of opinion. All the reasons I follow Christ in my life are still there. They do not suddenly disappear because someone says unless you believe the first man was named “Adam” you can’t be a Christian. So it is irrational for me to suddenly reject the reasons I believe in Christ because of this persons say so about something that has nothing to do with why I followed Christ to begin with.
“How do you know that the writer(s) of Genesis were not writing literal history? I think that is a false assumption to begin with…”
“The fact of the matter is it is ALL mythology; all of it.”
You seem to be contradicting yourself. If Adam and Eve was literal history it wasn’t myology right? It seems you do agree that Adam and Eve was not literal history.
Are you saying the author of Adam and Eve did not know they were not writing literal history? Do you think they thought they had for example written records from Adam and Eve that they were copying? Do you think they believed they were telling us stories that were traced back to eyewitnesses to these events? I mean just think about what you are saying. If you believe this is myth then it is almost certain the person making up the myth to begin with knew it was myth and traced back to eyewitness accounts of literal historical events.
“Because there are people out there – and lots of them, BTW, perhaps 40% of American Christians – believe this nonsense is to be taken literally.”
Ok but even if I grant that 40% of American Christians is a tiny percentage of Christians.
BTW Catholics make up about 50% of the Christians in the world and they are not required to read the OT as literal history.
So, let me rephrase your argument here. What you chose to call “Bottom Up Christianity” I call “Ala Carte Christianity” because you are so obviously separating the chafe from the wheat here (pardon the pun) and narrowing down what you choose to believe and what you don’t. That is very convenient. In fact, it reminds me of Paul who did something quite similar when HE decided (not Jesus) that new, gentile adherents to Jesus’ teachings no longer had to abide the Law. This in absolute contradiction to Jesus’s teaching that the Law was inviolable. However it made recruiting much easier since new members no longer had to endure circumcision or kosher laws or anything else Paul decided was simply superfluous. This doctrine Paul made up out of whole cloth entirely on his own; a man that never met Jesus, never heard a word he said, and held himself as a “Pharisee of Pharisees.” Yeah. Right.
And no, I am not contradicting myself in any way here since I am quite certain that the authors of Genesis genuinely believed they were writing a “truth” as it had been passed down to them through generations of oral teaching. This is not abrogated by MY belief that it is all mythology; as common sense and reason leads me to believe after almost 30 years of research and investigation: All religions are mythology, plain and simple, made up by man for man.
Lastly, I will allow that you pick and choose your own version of Christianity since it is done by so many others in the world. Consider that there are over 12,000 variations of Christianity in the U.S. alone and over 32,000 world-wide! That’s a whole lot of picking & choosing going on! In fact, you can start your own church, there’s boo-koo bucks in it, as I’m sure you know. That is the only pragmatic use of religion; it generates wealth. I say “go for it!”
“This in absolute contradiction to Jesus’s teaching that the Law was inviolable.”
You are referring to the statement made by Jesus as part of the sermon on the mount correct? No offense but atheists appeal so often to that phrase that I did a blog discussing it here:
“However it made recruiting much easier since new members no longer had to endure circumcision or kosher laws or anything else Paul decided was simply superfluous. This doctrine Paul made up out of whole cloth entirely on his own; a man that never met Jesus, never heard a word he said, and held himself as a “Pharisee of Pharisees.” Yeah. Right.”
Actually you see Jesus confronting passages of the old testament throughout the Gospels. Paul no doubt knew about this as did all of the Gospel writers:
“Genesis genuinely believed they were writing a “truth” as it had been passed down to them through generations of oral teaching. ”
If I tell you a story and you write it down are you the author of the story? The first person that told someone Eve was made from Adam’s rib knew he was making that up did he not?
“So, let me rephrase your argument here. What you chose to call “Bottom Up Christianity” I call “Ala Carte Christianity” because you are so obviously separating the chafe from the wheat here (pardon the pun) and narrowing down what you choose to believe and what you don’t. ”
It is exactly the opposite of what you describe. My faith like Descartes faith starts with skepticism and then grows from there. That is what bottom up means. You are describing top down Christianity when you start with the assumption that you must believe all the branches of a huge bush but then you are losing your faith as you prune.
I never believed many of the things some Christians want me to believe based on their literalist reading of the old testament. Their saying I can not be a Christian unless I accept their interpretation is not going to change my own view that I am a Christian. That is because their interpretation of the old testament does not effect my reasons to be a Christian.
Its like if you said you are a fan of Bob Dylan. And let’s just say I show you that someone who is undoubtedly a Bob Dylan fan and had followed him around for decades etc etc believed the earth was flat. And this person claimed that if you are truly a Bob Dylan fan you must believe the earth is flat! Would you think well I guess I am no longer a fan of Bob Dylan? Wouldn’t you think well I consider myself a fan of Bob Dylan for these reasons and whether or not the earth is flat has nothing to do with those reasons?
I am a Catholic. I am not interested in starting a new Church.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish them, but to fulfill them. 18For I tell you truly, until heaven and earth pass away, not a single jot, not a stroke of a pen, will disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.…” Matthew 5:18. This seems pretty clear to me, Joe. regardless of whatever Paul said, I think Jesus’s words should trump those of Paul.
You continue to create your own “Ala Carte” Christianity which is fine, your explanations notwithstanding. Considering you’re a “Catholic” then I take it you believe in transubstantiation?
Yep I was right it was the statement from the sermon on the mount that you are referring to. You think the statement is so clear but Matthew has Jesus explaining what he means for 3 chapters (5,6 and 7) – ie., the sermon on the mount.
This comes up so often with atheists that want to force old testament passages on Christians I wrote a blog on it:
That snip of a quote from Jesus is from the sermon on the mount and in the sermon on the mount Jesus explains exactly what he means by that quote. But again you can interpret scripture how you want. I will interpret scripture the way God/Jesus wants. If you want to know how Christians understand that quote then read the sermon on the mount. Or at the very least read my blog which summarizes it.
Sorry, Joe, there’s noting to interpret; If Jesus wasn’t clear here, then you’re just making up your own interpretations. This is as clear as a statement gets. And who, by the way, is “Matthew?” We don’t even know who he was. Look, good luck with your “Ala Carte” Christianity If it works for you, great, but don’t go asserting you’re not picking and choosing what you want to believe and what you don’t. It’s incredibly obvious. That’s how we got 32,000 variations of Christianity.
Again you can interpret it your way (whatever it is you think it means) I will understand what that means based on what Jesus said. And yes Jesus did explain what he meant through many many examples in the sermon on the mount. If you decide you don’t want to read his fuller explanation that is your choice. But you will then never understand the Christian position. And yes Half of Christianity may be divided by 32,000 variations but they all as far as I know include the entire sermon on the mount in their scripture. None of them remove your quote from the fuller explanation Jesus gives in their scripture. So there may be differences but they all agree what you are doing is improper.
You can jump to different topics about the authorship of Matthew if you want but I think it is beside the point.
“Look, good luck with your “Ala Carte” Christianity If it works for you, great, but don’t go asserting you’re not picking and choosing what you want to believe and what you don’t. It’s incredibly obvious. That’s how we got 32,000 variations of Christianity.”
Ok so this is how I see it. I gave you principled and common sense reasons why I interpret some scripture as literal history but not necessarily others. You ignored those reasons and just go back to your general allegation that I am “picking and choosing what I want to believe.” I don’t think our discussion is going anywhere.
That said I do genuinely thank you for your comments and interest in my blog and I do genuinely wish you good luck and happiness.
It’s not an “Old Testament” passage, it’s from Matthew. No one’s forcing anything, apparently you don’t understand what you’re reading. Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet teaching the end of times were at hand, on his watch, while he was alive. (As was John the Baptist and Paul, both preaching the coming apocalypse IN THEIR TIME.) It’s one of the more readily accepted conclusions by scholars of the NT; Geza Vermes, Bart Ehrman, oh, yeah, and Albert Schweitzer! I think I see their points just fine. You’re assertion that what I’m doing is “improper” or that all 32,000 variations of Christianity “all agree” is absolutely nonsense and further indication that you really don’t understand what you’re reading. But then again, most Christians don’t understand what their reading so it really isn’t all that unusual. You never answered my question: as a Catholic do you believe in transubstantiation?
The passage from Matthew is part of the sermon on the mount. Matthew dedicates 3 chapters to Jesus explaining what he means by that quote.
I like Bart Ehrman and have learned a great deal from him. There is debate as to whether Jesus should be understood as mostly an apocalyptical prophet or as a prophet of his message of love. Ehrman is stongly in the former camp and some of his arguments are better than others – but on the whole I don’t find him convincing. As for the various other scholars you mention I have not read them in depth nor do I care to. I find that much of this scholarship quickly comes unhinged from the actual evidence we have in the historical material.
But that is beside the point of the quote from Matthew. Jesus extrapolates on what he means by that short quote. If you want to understand what Jesus meant by it then you should read what he said. If you think Bart Ehrman or another scholar can say what Jesus would have meant by that passage (assuming Ehrman even thinks Jesus said it) without even considering what Jesus himself said about it then that is all the more reason not to follow that scholar.