Friday, January 21, 2022

This Day In Church History: The "White-Ehrman" Joint Appearance (January 21, 2009)


I received this note today from my friend Felix Doulos, a sometimes contributor to the blog, and thought I would pass it on to my readers:

This day in Church History: Thirteen years ago today, January 21, 2009, popular internet apologist James White participated in a joint appearance ("debate") with UNC professor and NT textual criticism expert Bart Ehrman in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The topic of discussion: “Does the Bible Misquote Jesus?”

Since taking place, it has become one of the most talked about events in the subculture of evangelical internet apologetics, discussed frequently on internet programs (like the Dividing Line) and often put forward (by James White) as a hallmark example of how to do apologetics in the “real world.” Financial terms of the joint appearance, including how much Ehrman was paid to take part, have never been publicly disclosed. Whatever the price, it was well worth it.

Though White has continued to talk often, if not incessantly, of the joint appearance over the past thirteen years, Ehrman has been more reticent. When he posted videos of the debate to his blog in 2014 he wrote: “I wasn’t sure whether I should post this debate or not. Frankly, it was not a good experience. I normally do not have an aversion to the people I debate. But James White is that kind of fundamentalist who gets under my skin.

There are many ways in which “White-Ehrman Day” may be commemorated. One might watch the event again on video and ponder the vast agreement between the two panelists on textual variants in the NT, or one might look for those lighthearted moments, as when Ehrman playfully corrected White’s pronunciation of renowned German textual critic “Kurt Aland.”

As we have recently been reminded with respect to the commemoration of events like January 6, 2021, these kinds of significant moments deserve to be remembered (and mentioned again, and again).

Felix Doulos

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