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The Book of Bart(5)
送交者: 新歌 2018月07月30日15:16:39 于 [彩虹之约] 发送悄悄话
回  答: ZT华盛顿邮报:The Book of Bart(1) 新歌 于 2018-07-30 15:08:52
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The Book of Bart


Studying various historical translations of the Bible led to the ultimate crisis of faith for writer Bart Ehrman, formerly a born-again Christian.
Studying various historical translations of the Bible led to the
ultimate crisis of faith for writer Bart Ehrman, formerly a born-again
Christian.(By Win Mcnamee -- Getty Images)

"The evidence for the belief is that if you look closely at the Bible,
at the resurrection, you'll find the evidence for it," he says. "For me,
that was the seed of its own destruction. It wasn't there. It isn't
there."

Doubt about the events in the life of Christ are hardly new. There was
never clear agreement in the most ancient texts as to the meaning of
Christ's death. But for many Christians, the virgin birth, the passion
of Christ, the resurrection on the third day -- these simply have to be
facts, or there is no basis for the religion.

"The fundamental truth claims of the biblical record were historical
things that were believed to have happened, not 'once upon a time' in a
fairy tale or somewhere outside of time and space, but at specific times
and places that belonged to the total history of the human race and
that could be located on a map," writes Jaroslav Pelikan, one of the
field's most respected scholars. "If the history of the resurrection of
Christ had not really happened, the message . . . according to the
authority of the apostle Paul, had to be 'null and void.' "

Ehrman slowly came to a horrifying realization: There was no real
historical record. It was, he felt, all incense and myth, told by
illiterate men and not set down in writing for decades.

Dark Bubbles

It is a difficult thing to chart the loss of faith.

Where does it go, this belief in things not seen?

Let's look at "In the Beauty of the Lilies." This is John Updike's novel
of the fictional Rev. Clarence Arthur Wilmot, a Presbyterian minister,
and his loss of faith. Wilmot, beset by doubt one afternoon in the
rectory, "felt the last particles of his faith leave him. The sensation
was distinct -- a visceral surrender, a set of dark sparkling bubbles
escaping upward . . . there was no God, nor should there be."

For Ehrman, the dark sparkling bubbles cascaded out of him while
teaching a class at Rutgers University on "The Problem of Suffering in
Biblical Traditions." It was the mid-1980s, the Ethiopian famine was in
full swing. Starving infants, mass death. Ehrman came to believe that
not only was there no evidence of Jesus being divine, but neither was
there a God paying attention.

"I just began to lose it," Ehrman says now, in a conversation that
stretches from late afternoon into the evening. "It wasn't for lack of
trying. But I just couldn't believe there was a God in charge of this
mess . . . It was so emotionally charged. This whole business of 'the
Bible is your life, and anyone who doesn't believe it is going to roast
in hell.' "

He kept teaching, moving to Chapel Hill, kept hanging on to the shreds
of belief, but the dark bubbles fled upward. He was a successful author,
voted one of the most popular professors on campus, but he awoke one
morning seven years ago and found the remnants of faith gone. No bubbles
at all. He was soon to marry for the second time and his kids were
grown. He stopped going to church.

"I would love for him to be there with me, and sometimes wish it was
something we share," says Ehrman's wife, Sarah Beckwith, a professor of
medieval literature at Duke University, and an Episcopalian. "But I
respect the integrity of decisions he's made, even if I reject the logic
by which he reached them."

"Bart was, like a lot of people who were converted to fundamental
evangelicalism, converted to the certainty of it all, of having all the
answers," says Dale Martin, Woolsey Professor of Religious Studies at
Yale University, and a friend of three decades. "When he found out they
were lying to him, he just didn't want anything to do with it.

"His wife and I go to Mass sometimes. He never comes with us anymore."

* * *

Life after the loss of faith, even for the deeply religious, is not necessarily a terrible thing.

Ehrman tools home from campus on a recent morning in his BMW
convertible. He has a lovely house in the countryside, a wife who loves
him and an ever-growing career. He is, he says, a "happy agnostic." That
emptiness he felt as a teenager is still there, but he fills it with
family, friends, work and the finer things in life.

He thinks that when you die, there are no Pearly Gates.

"I think you just cease to exist, like the mosquito you swatted yesterday."

On this particular morning, he turns his attention to his new book, the
story of Judas Iscariot, the man who betrayed Christ. Judas resides,
according to Dante, in the ninth circle of hell.

Ehrman's desk is filled with open books. His study is sun-filled, with a
glass door giving onto a patio and the gentle pines of the Carolina
forests.

Where does faith reside? Does it leave a residue when it is gone?

Bart Ehrman begins writing, the day unfolding, shafts of light falling
through the window, the mysteries of the Gospels open before him.


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