Several media stories recently reported that Bart Ehrman, a leading expert on the apocryphal gospels and one of BAS’s most popular lecturers, had lost his faith as a result of his scholarly research. This raised a question for us that is not often talked about, but seemed well worth a discussion: What effect does scholarship have on faith? We asked Bart to join three other scholars to talk about this: James F. Strange, a leading archaeologist and Baptist minister; Lawrence H. Schiffman, a prominent Dead Sea Scroll scholar and Orthodox Jew; and William G. Dever, one of America’s best-known and most widely quoted archaeologists, who had been an evangelical preacher, then lost his faith, then became a Reform Jew and now says he’s a non-believer. The discussion took place in the offices of the Biblical Archaeology Society on November 19, 2006, and was moderated by BAR editor Hershel Shanks.
Hershel Shanks: Bart, how did your scholarship affect your faith?
Bart Ehrman: First, I lost my fundamentalist faith because of my scholarship. Like Bill Dever, I have a fundamentalist background. I had a very high view of Scripture as the inerrant word of God, no mistakes of any kind—geographical or historical. No contradictions. Inviolate.