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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Waste Your Money, January 7, 2011
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This review is from: A Christian Minister Responds to Bart Ehrman (Paperback)
It is said that when one resorts to name-calling, it's a sure sign one has run out of arguments. If this is so, then it seems that the Reverend Greg Sheryl ran out of arguments before he started writing. Albeit he does not explicitly call Dr. Ehrman an agent of Satan on page 1, the suggestion is unmistakably clear with the first sentence of the second paragraph. On page 2, under the subhead BACKGROUND, Sheryl quotes "A very relevant scripture to our subject":

For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, . . . . (Titus 1:10)

This is, in effect, calling Dr. Ehrman a rebellious, empty, talker and deceiver, an implied accusation for which he presents no evidence whatever. This might be described as name-calling by proxy: [It's not me who is calling names; it's the Bible!] Having read Mr. Sheryl's book and Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (Plus), each from cover to cover, I don't know about rebellious, but "empty talker and deceiver" seems to me to fit Mr. Sheryl much better than Dr. Ehrman.

It would be tedious, both for me and for you, the reader of this review, to refute every false assertion in the book, so I will cite only some of the most glaring.

Chapter 4 is titled "Ehrman Errors: Two Demonstrable Examples." The first "example" is that in discussing the claim that Isaiah 52:13-53:12 and Psalm 22 were prophecies of Jesus, Dr. Ehrman mentions that "Jews . . . had a very effective response: the Messiah is never mentioned in these passages. . . . Before Christianity there were no Jews that we know of who anticipated a Messiah who would suffer and die for the sins of others and then be raised from the dead . . . ." and he goes on a few pages later to say "In reality, the idea that Jesus was the suffering Messiah was an invention of the early Christians." Mr. Sheryl writes: ". . . the fact that the word `Messiah' is not mentioned in such passages as Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22 is a ridiculous argument. The word `Messiah' isn't used in many other messianic prophecies either, such as Micah 5:2, . . . Isaiah 7:14 . . . etc. That Isaiah 53 is messianic is so obvious that one needs professional help to miss it, and that is what Ehrman is trying to provide." Hmm: it is SO much easier to say something is obvious than to adduce any evidence to support that something. And the claim that "that is what Ehrman is trying to provide" is what is known as hostile mind-reading. Mr. Sheryl fails to cite his credentials as a qualified mind-reader, and one may reasonably doubt that he has any such credentials or qualifications. If "one needs professional help," as Mr. Sheryl claims, then all the Jews prior to the end of the first century, CE must have had professional help, because there is no record of any Jewish mention of that notion before 100 CE.

Dr. Ehrman points out that "Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 7:14 were also not talking about the messiah."

Nonetheless, Mr. Sheryl writes:
"But what about Ehrman's assertion that the Jews before the time of Jesus never thought of Isaiah 53 as messianic? The fact is: They DID!!"*
"Christian apologists and researchers John Ankerberg and John Weldon wrote,"

Proof that this passage [Isaiah 52:13-53:12] has long been acknowledged as Messianic can be seen from the fact that the early rabbis developed the idea of two Messiahs from this passage.

But the "early rabbis" referred to lived in the Middle Ages. As Dr. Ehrman put it, "to refer to the Middle Ages as evidence of what Jews thought centuries (or a millennium) earlier is obviously not very helpful!" And, I might add, it at the very least borders on intellectual dishonesty. Dr. Ehrman wrote that he "would challenge [Mr. Sheryl] to cite a single Jewish source from [biblical times] that takes them [as messianic]."

About half of the text consists of extended quotes from other authors, not always well-chosen. An example is Mr. R. A. Torrey (1856-1925), who wrote about three pages of this 60-page book, including:

He is a very shallow thinker indeed who gives up a well-tested truth because there are some apparent facts that he cannot reconcile with that truth. And he is a very shallow Bible scholar who gives up his belief in the divine origin and inerrancy of of the Bible because there are some supposed facts that he cannot reconcile with that doctrine. There are many shallow thinkers of that kind in the theological world today.

More name-calling by proxy! And the quote consists entirely of unsupported assertions.

In science, it is expected that if facts are discovered which a `well-tested' theory cannot explain, the theory must be modified or thrown out, not the empirical facts. In theology, Mr. Sheryl quotes with apparent approval Mr. Torrey's position that the scientific norm is shallow thinking; if the dogma doesn't fit the facts, the deep thinker will find a way to keep the dogma and, if necessary, modify (i.e. falsify) or ignore or deny the empirical data!

The one good thing I can say about this book is that the footnotes are where they belong, each at the bottom of the page that references it.

Don't waste your money on this one! For a more honest and gentlemanly and better-reasoned reply to Dr. Ehrman, read Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's "Misquoting Jesus", by Timothy Paul Jones. While I agree much more with Dr. Ehrman than with Dr. Jones, I cannot so readily dismiss Dr. Jones' arguments as incompetent or dishonest, because they aren't. And for more background (mostly historical) read Asimov's Guide to the Bible: Two Volumes in One, the Old and New Testaments.

watziznayme@gmail.com

* Because Amazon's text box does not permit boldface type, as in the original, I used caps instead. And the real historical fact is: They DIDN'T
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Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 5, 2011 2:54:55 PM PST
You are certainly free to think what you like about my book. Are you one of Dr. Ehrman's students? I ask, because it seems as though you may have been passing along (in your review of my book) comments about my book from Dr. Ehrman. For example, you wrote,

Dr. Ehrman points out that "Micah 5:2 and Isaiah 7:14 were also not talking about the messiah."

Nonetheless, Mr. Sheryl writes:
"But what about Ehrman's assertion that the Jews before the time of Jesus never thought of Isaiah 53 as messianic? The fact is: They DID!!"*
"Christian apologists and researchers John Ankerberg and John Weldon wrote,"

Proof that this passage [Isaiah 52:13-53:12] has long been acknowledged as Messianic can be seen from the fact that the early rabbis developed the idea of two Messiahs from this passage.

But the "early rabbis" referred to lived in the Middle Ages. As Dr. Ehrman put it, "to refer to the Middle Ages as evidence of what Jews thought centuries (or a millennium) earlier is obviously not very helpful!" And, I might add, it at the very least borders on intellectual dishonesty. Dr. Ehrman wrote that he "would challenge [Mr. Sheryl] to cite a single Jewish source from [biblical times] that takes them [as messianic]."
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Let me say that, contrary to what you allege that Ehrman has said, Jews prior to the time of Jesus believed that Isaiah 53 was Messianic. The "early rabbis" I was referring to were NOT Middle Age rabbis. In fact, the idea that Isaiah 53 was referring, not to the Messiah, but to the nation of Israel, originated, so far as I know, in the Middle Ages. If Ehrman has a problem with what I have said, I am willing to hear it from him; however, I would rather hear this from him than hear it from someone who is "carrying water" for him.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2011 12:23:39 AM PDT
watzizname says:
Mr. Sheryl:

No, I am not a student of Dr. Ehrman, and at the time I wrote the review of your book, I had not met him. (He spoke at MTSU recently, and I attended his lecture.) The quotes are from his reply to an email I sent him, asking about some things you said.

You have claimed that "Jews prior to the time of Jesus believed that Isaiah 53 was Messianic." Clearly, no one can prove that no Jews prior to the time of Jesus believed that Isaiah 53 was Messianic, but you have not presented even a shred of evidence that any did; merely an unsupported assertion, which must therefore be discounted as an argument.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 24, 2011 3:31:49 PM PDT
Thank you for your reply. It is Dr. Ehrman who hasn't supplied a shred of evidence for his assertion that Jews didn't believe this Scripture was Messianic. I actually do have evidence for my assertion, although I am not currently at home where I have the material to support this. However, I think the onus is on Ehrman to show that his assertion is valid, which he simply cannot do. I can.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2011 8:49:11 PM PDT
Thank you for your reply. It is Dr. Ehrman who hasn't supplied a shred of evidence for his assertion that Jews didn't believe this Scripture was Messianic. I actually do have evidence for my assertion, although I am not currently at home where I have the material to support this.

However, since Ehrman is the one who made the assertion that I challenged, the onus is on him to support his erroneous asssertion. This he CANNOT do, because he is in error about this, as I mentioned in my book. By contrast, I actually do have evidence to support my denial of his claims about Isaiah 53

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 6:59:05 PM PST
watzizname says:
Mr. Sheryl:

You claim that you "actually do have evidence to support my denial of his claims about Isaiah 53" but you do not present the alleged evidence. Thus you have not met Dr. Ehrman's challenge "to cite a single Jewish source from [biblical times] that takes them [as messianic]," and your claim can only be regarded as an unsupported assertion, of no evidentiary value.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 11:10:46 PM PST
Mr. Watzizname,
I notice that all it gives me is a small, matchbox-sized box to put my text into. I hope that it will expand the text I type, so that it is able to be read.

First of all, on pp. 23-25 of my book, I cited 2 sources that stated that Jewish rabbis considered Isaiah 53 to be Messianic. The footnotes on these pages are documentation for this point. Let me specifically call attention to the second source I mentioned. This is a book by Dr. James Smith, who has a doctorate in Biblical Studies from Hebrew Union College. On pg. 307 of his book What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah, Dr. Smith categorically states,

"The Messianic interpretation of Isaiah 53 was acknowledged by Jewish authorities until the Middle Ages."

In favor of this interpretation, Dr. Smith notes,
"
1. The Servant of the Lord here [in Isaiah 53] is portrayed in a strongly individualistic way. It takes rich imagination or strong prejudice to see the Servant here as a symbol for Israel, the remnant, the prophets, or any other group.
2. What is said of this individual far exceeds anything which man is capable of accomplishing.
3. The passage is applied directly to Christ in at least seven New Testament passages [which Dr. Smith lists: Matt. 8:17; Mark 15:28; Luke 22:37; John 12:37, 38; Acts 8: 32, 33; Rom. 10:16; 1 Peter 2:24, 25]."

Additionally, in Appendix V of this book, entitled, "The Basis of Messianic Interpretation," Dr. Smith gives 5 bases for considering Isaiah 53 Messianic:

1. Exegetical Logic
2. Early Jewish Interpretation
3. New Testament Allusion
4. New Testament Exegesis
5. Church Fathers
6. Amplification of Earlier Themes (pg. 487)

Furthermore, author David Baron, writing near the end of the 19th century, wrote,

"...until recent times this prophecy [i. e., Isaiah 53] has been almost universally received by the Jews as referring to Messiah. " (Rays of Messiah's Glory, pg. 226)

As evidence, he cites Targum Yonathan, in chapter 52.13; the Talmud ("Sanhedrin," fol. 98, b); and comments from the Zohar on Exodus. (Ibid.)

He adds,

"In fact, until Rashi [a.k.a.Rabbi Shlomo Yitzkhaki (1040-1105 A.D.)], who applied it to the Jewish nation, the Messianic interpretation of this chapter was almost universally adopted by the Jews,..." (Ibid., pg. 227).

One further evidence I will cite is Appendix IX in Alfred Edersheim's The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, entitled, "List of Old Testament Passages Messianically Applied in Ancient Rabbinic Writings."

You asked for documentation. There it is. May I ask for Dr. Ehrman's documentation?
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