Thursday, June 22, 2006

Colbert Takes On Agnostic Scholar

Bart Ehrman is a biblical scholar who has recently written a book called Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 2005). The basic thrust of his argument is that the Bible is unreliable--we simply do not know what Jesus really said, he argues.

Ehrman has been making the rounds of various television shows, doing interviews about the book. This week he appears on the Colbert Report--a show on Comedy Central.

Now, I don't know what Steven Colbert really believes--he never seems to be serious about anything. In fact, he recently got himself into a lot of controversy when he addressed the White House Correspondence dinner, where he took the opportunity to make some rather sharp criticisms of the President, who was present. Normally, speakers check politics at the door and act as cordially as possible. Colbert did not pull punches though. Supporters of the President said it was inappropriate--critics of the President thought it took a lot of guts. Rocco apparently thinks he may be a devout Catholic.

In any event, Colbert took on Ehrman and his agnostic approach. Colbert takes the position of someone who believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. I don't think Ehrman expected Colbert to ask him the questions he did. One scholar has said Erhman looked like a "deer in the headlights." You've got to watch the interview.

Go here to see it--be sure to hit the link there for Bart Ehrman.

I think Colbert was a bit rude to Ehrman, but, at the same time, Colbert acts this way to all his guests--it's part of his schtick. Erhman probably shouldn't have been surprised he got made fun of--Colbert makes fun of everyone. Actually, this was a lot of fun.


Moonshadow said...

I don't know what Steven Colbert really believes

Assuming this year-old interview is genuine, Colbert replies like this:

I love my Church, and I'm a Catholic who was raised by intellectuals, who were very devout. I was raised to believe that you could question the Church and still be a Catholic.

I have great sympathy for Bart Ehrman because it doesn't take much to arrive at his same conclusions.

Laurel said...

wow. all i have to say is thank you michael for pointing that out. i saw the book in borders the other day, and was intrigued - but found the interview to be even more intriguing...

Theocoid said...

I found that some of Ehrman's claims were wildly exaggerated. My first search pulled up a review of the book by another scholar who gave it a 5 star rating but called it fatally flawed nonetheless.

Inspector Fruiteau said...

Things that don't make sense to me:

1) In a country that is supposedly dominated by Christians, why is it that the best-selling books deny or denigrate Christianity?

2) Why do agnostics head departments of theology and religious studies?

3) How did Mr. Ehrman find the time to run his department at Chapel Hill while documenting over 100,000 errors in the Bible?

Just wondering.

Jim said...

I liked it too Michael. And like you, I also commented that Bart should have watched the show two or three times before he appeared on it and he would have known what to expect.

Anonymous said...

Again, from the same interview:

TONY: You created The Daily Show religious-satire segment, "This Week in God." How do you square your Catholicism with comedy?

SC: What is worthy of satire is the misuse of religion for destructive or political gains. That's totally different from the Word, the blood, the body and the Christ. His kingdom is not of this earth.

Yeah, he's a Catholic all right.

Jim said...

I don't see how his use of satire disqualifies him from being considered a genuine Catholic. If satire is exclusionary, then you have to exclude hunks of Scripture itself (i.e., Paul's "if they think cutting off a little will help, tell them to lop off the whole thing!" to the Galatians); Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Pius XII, and just about everyone else in Church history. Satire is a useful tool in the right hands. Colbert is a master of it. And doubtless a good catholic.

Anonymous said...

That wasn't sarcasm, friend. I was impressed because of his reference to the Eucharistic sacrifice, to me the sign of a true Catholic. He didn't just say "I'm a Catholic," he showed that he actually knows what that means by talking about what Catholics love most. I love Stephen Colbert, and completely agree with him that satire is needed to deflate hypocrisy of all stripes. God is someone we should serve, not someone whose words should be twisted to serve our political aims.

Doctorb said...

I would kind of put Luther and Calvin in the "non-Catholic" group, what with their being Protestants and all that.