If you ask me, it looks like the Gnus have launched a smear campaign against a mainstream scholar. On March 20, 2012, scholar Bart Ehrman published a short piece on Huffington Post that had the temerity to defend the scholarly consensus that Jesus was a historical figure. Ehrman, who is an agnostic, was not defending the traditional views of Jesus.
On the same day, Jerry Coyne blogged about it in an entry entitled, “Coyne’s Bart Ehrman says that Jesus existed.” For some reason, the essay seemed to have ruffled his feathers, as he ends by goading mythers into responding:
Well, Ben Goren, you’re being characterized as an untrained “Internet junkie.” Have at Ehrman;
His blog lights up, as the entry elicits 422 comments where Coyne’s blog now hosts lots of mythers who trash talk and personally attack Bart Ehrman.
On March 21, Richard Carrier replies with a 6842 word response on his blog entitled, “Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism.” The response is full of vitriol. He also reports that he had just ordered Ehrman’s book.
The same day, PZ Myers helps to promote the response in a short entry entitled, “Carrier cold-cocks Ehrman.” We know about Myers’ obsession with violent language. We learn that Myers is a myther.
On April 3, another HuffPo piece appears that includes a brief interview with Ehrman.
On April 4, Coyne responds with an entry entitled, “More on Bart Ehrman’s new book about Jesus.” Aware that his original blog entry stirred up a lot of attacks on Ehrman, he fans the flames:
This should anger up those readers who think that Jesus was largely mythological (i.e., not even based on a real person), or that the evidence supporting such a person was weak at best.
And throws a little red meat to the anti-accommodationists:
I’m hoping he isn’t being deliberately ambiguous to cater to believers.
On April 19, Richard Carrier “reviews” Ehrman’s book. It took him less than a month to read the book and write up a mean-spirited “review” that is 19 pages and 10455 words long. It is loaded with personal attacks and a laundry list of supposed errors about any detail he can dig up.
On April 20, Coyne trumpets the Carrier response with fanfare (“Carrier finally responds to Ehrman on the historicity of Jesus”):
We’ve all been waiting for Richard Carrier, an expert on history and a Biblical scholar, to respond to Bart Ehrman’s new book.
On April 22, Ehrman addresses the first “error” cited by Carrier and shows Carrier was wrong: Acharya S, Richard Carrier, and a Cocky Peter (Or: “A Cock and Bull Story”)
On April 23, Coyne writes a blog entitled, “The historicity of Jesus: Bart Ehrman responds to Richard Carrier (sort of).” Coyne is unhappy and asserts
The least Carrier deserves is to be taken seriously; and he certainly deserves an in-depth reply. Ehrman doesn’t realize that he’ll lose credibility as a scholar if he can’t produce one. (emphasis added)
So Coyne first props up Carrier as an “expert” and then threatens that Ehrman’s credibility is dependent on some in-depth instant reply to a 10455 word “review” on the internet.
On April 25, Bart Ehrman posts his “Fuller Reply to Richard Carrier”
Coyne then posts a 99 word response linking to the essay, claiming he would “rather look at baby hawks” than read and comment on it.