[Editor’s note:  This question comes from a person who has asked many questions, as you will see from my answer. To find more on Ehrman, go to the site and do a search on his name]


Bart Ehrman claims that the “we” passages in Acts are forgery by the author to convince the readers that he was a companion of Paul but he wasn’t.  What is your comment?


I believe I have commented on Ehrman to you in earlier Q & As.  Ehrman is an absolutely top-notch scholar.  Amongst the skeptics and cynics of Christianity and of the Bible, he is one of the few who I really respect for using accurate and reliable information.  He is even willing to go after atheists who make ridiculous claims.  In fact, Ehrman’s claims are rarely if ever “ridiculous” in my opinion.

Nevertheless, as I have explained to you earlier, I believe, Ehrman is extremely biased.  Sometimes he lets his bias take over to such an extent that some of his conclusion are borderline irrational.  Ehrman looks at the information available to him through a very strong anti-God filter.  This leads him to some conclusions which are really obviously not correct, in my opinion.  When we begin our study of information with a presupposition it definitely affects how we view that information.  When we just so happen to look at that information with a presupposition which is flat-out wrong, this is very problematic.  Such is the case with Ehrman, in my opinion.  He assumes a-priori that there is no God, that the Bible is not inspired, that Jesus was a mere man, that there cannot be any truly predictive prophecy and more.  All of these assumptions are simply NOT TRUE.  This explains a lot of the mistakes that Ehrman makes.

OK. Let me get to your question.  Ehrman claims that the “we” passages in Acts are a forgery.  More accurately, they are a flat-out lie and deception.  If we are going to claim that an author is willfully deceiving, then we had better have some solid evidence for this claim. Ehrman is not simply claiming that Acts is fiction.  We read fiction all the time, and we do not accuse the author of lying, because everyone knows it is fiction.  No, Ehrman is accusing the author of Acts of willfully deceiving, not just us in the 21st century, but the members of the church in the late first century.  Again, he had better have some strong evidence for this.  The problem is that he has literally no evidence for this.  His argument is based on a rather indirect line of suppositions, not on any actual facts.  He proposes that Acts contradicts Paul on many points. He claims that the author of Acts disagrees with Paul on many points as well.   The problem with this is that it is not true.  There is no irresolvable difference in fact, doctrine or theology between Acts and Paul’s letters.  None!  If Ehrman wants to propose one, I would be glad to listen, but when I look at his supposed examples I find them extremely weak.  The case is not well supported at all.  It is principally the result of his bias, in my opinion.

Besides, this theory requires that the early church leaders, some of whom knew Paul and Luke, to be very gullible.  Acts was written in around AD 63-65.  If we allow for a very liberal view, not supported by the evidence, then perhaps Acts was written as late as AD 80.  Certainly no later than that.  In the year AD 80 most of those who had ever known Paul and Luke were still alive.  They would know if Acts was an invention and they certainly would not have allowed a deceitful fiction to be read in the churches and to be brought into the canon of the New Testament.  I am sorry, but to me this theory is absurd.  You can safely completely dismiss this highly biased theory as based on a false premise with weak “evidence,” as it defies some rather basic common sense.

John Oakes

Comments are closed.