Decisions: A discussion between Bart Ehrman & Mike Licona


Humble Pie

 In Blog

I want to make a correction to what Gary and I wrote in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus (p. 128).
We say,

Tiberius Caesar was the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus’ ministry and execution. Tiberius is mentioned by ten sources within 150 years of his death: Tacitus, Suetonius, Velleius Paterculus, Plutarch, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, Seneca, Valerius Maximus, Josephus, and Luke. Compare that to Jesus’ forty-two total sources in the same length of time. That’s more than four times the number of total sources who mention the Roman emperor during roughly the same period. If we only considered the number of secular non-Christian sources who mention Jesus and Tiberius within 150 years of their lives, we arrive at a tie of nine each.

It has recently been brought to my attention that a graduate student has written an article revealing several other sources for Tiberius:

I’ve only been able to skim the article and have not checked anything said in it. However, from what I saw, it appears that I was mistaken when writing this bit in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. I say that I’m mistaken, because this part of the book was written by me and not Gary Habermas. So, I assume full responsibility for the error. I’m embarrassed by the mistake. I had just started my doctoral program at the time and simply did not check into this with the care with which I should have.

I have made a similar error with a different example I’ve been using more recently. I’ve been saying there are 6 chief sources historians use for Augustus. I have acknowledged there are more who mention him but have said there are 6 major sources. I have just recently learned of an additional 4 extant sources, raising the number to 10. And that does not include any sources that have since been lost. Of course, I did not include any sources on Jesus that have been lost.

I make mistakes. And I will make more in the future. But I’m happy to acknowledge them when I see them and to learn to be more careful going forward.

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