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Biblical scholar Bart Ehrman supports the historic existence of Jesus

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(Read caption) Fundamentalist Christians have criticized writer Bart Ehrman's books in the past, but many seem to be rallying behind 'Did Jesus Exist?'

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Evangelical and fundamentalist Christians once counted biblical scholar Bart Ehrman among their number. But Ehrman eventually became an agnostic, and many of his former brethren have found fault in his bestselling books that question common beliefs about Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the early days of Christianity.

His newest book has turned some of his perennial critics into fans, at least temporarily. In "Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth," Ehrman decimates the persistent arguments of those who not only deny the divinity of Jesus but insist that no such man ever even existed.

In an interview, I asked Ehrman about the motives of the "mythicists," the evidence supporting the existence of Jesus, and his own spiritual beliefs.

Q: As you explain in your book, many mythicists continue to try to debunk the very existence of Jesus Christ. What's the motivation of those who try to turn Jesus into an imaginary figure?

A: It's been a bit of a mystery. I don't have a solid answer, but I have a hunch. It's based on the fact that everybody who’s a mythicist is a very strong agnostic or, more typically, a hard-core atheist.

And virtually [all mythicists are] diehard opponent[s] of organized religion. They think it's done so much harm in the world, not just crusades and inquisitions, but by supporting slavery and racism and sexism and so forth.

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