It’s Tom Thompson’s birthday.
Thomas is a fine person, an excellent scholar, a fine chef, and a great friend. And it’s my privilege to wish him, publicly, a very, very happy birthday!
In a recent article in this journal, Thomas Thompson wrote what he described as ‘A Response to Bart Ehrman,’though the connection is not always obvious. The purpose of this response is not generally to defend Ehrman, but to point out that Thompson is completely wrong from beginning to end. Ehrman got one main point right, and it should be at the centre of the discussion. He commented, ‘Thompson is trained in biblical studies, but he does not have degrees in New Testament or early Christianity. He is, instead, a Hebrew Bible scholar….’ Thompson’s lack of expertise regarding New Testament Studies and Early Christianity is palpable throughout his essay.
And then he’s off to the races (as we say here in the South).
Given the fact that I am friends with both Thomas and Maurice I think I shall simply point out that this discussion should stir up even more discussion! (To say the least). I also confess that I am a big fan of lively discussion. Maurice doesn’t (ever) disappoint.
I wasn’t at the trial so I don’t know what Joe Zias said on the stand. I do know two things, though and they’re brief observations:
1- BAR hasn’t gone to such lengths to crucify someone (or at least destroy their reputation) since the 90’s when Hershel Shanks showed utter contempt for Keith Whitelam, Niels Peter Lemche, and Thomas Thompson.
2- I don’t really believe BAR is reporting all the facts or all the facts fairly. I don’t trust BAR to do so as it has shown itself more than willing in the past to skew the evidence to its own advantage.
What this hatchet job shows, though, in my estimation, is that BAR and its editorial staff are a mean-spirited, vicious gang of thugs. But I already knew that. I’ve known that since the 90’s.
If, however, BAR has offered the facts as they really are two more things are worth saying:
1- I have been and will remain Joe’s friend. I’m loyal to my friends and if they happen to fall beneath the weight of human frailty I don’t care- I remain loyal to them.
2- I still have absolutely NO respect for BAR, for Hershel Shanks, for his editorial staff, or for those who support their money-driven archaeology, and that won’t change either unless Shanks is fired and the magazine takes on a wholly new character by adopting a more scholarly and less greedy direction (which means ending advertisements for antiquities).