Oh I Should Stop Youtube Commenting

I guess I am one of the few people who can start a comment on trying to make the case of Bart Ehrman as a historian and end up talking about Keynesian economics, Mises, and Henry Hazlitt. I just had to though, the claim was just too dumb not to comment on it. One can find the debate here in the comments section of the video.

The person that I was debating made a claim that Ehrman was not a proper historian, but merely just a textual critic. I asked if one needs to have a degree in the subject to be able to call yourself a historian, he responded, “yes.”**

Well this automatically encouraged me to point to Keynes, which he was trained as a mathematician, yet he was an Economist professionally. This is where I found out the person I was debating with was a libertarian or at least talked about Keynes as such. Here was his response:

You mean the same Keynes whose policies have resulted in rampant deficits and caused massive economic unheavals? You mean the same Keynes who ignores the human part of economics, because he thought as a mathematician and ignored human interactions in economies? That Keynes is your example? Who the hell cares that greedy politicians and kooky leftists believe in his theories, the collapsing economies around the world show the worth of his theories on economics.

Now when I mentioned Keynes, I really did not want to go into detail about Keynesian economics, I simply wanted to point out that there are people that are trained for one thing but yet does something else professionally, or in the case of Ehrman, they combine fields of study. But, okay, since he talked about Keynes like he did, I assumed (and assumed correctly) that he was a fan of Mises and Hazlitt, both of whom never had a degree in Economics. Hell, Hazlitt even dropped out of college, yet libertarians love to talk about Hazlitt as an economic god. I know, I even used to do it.  Using the person’s same logic, though, both Mises and Hazlitt were never really proper economists.

Now that I think about it, I should have mentioned Bruce Caldwell, who got his PhD in Economics, even went off to do post-grad Economics work at NYU, but nevertheless, he is known to be an Economic Historian. Are we going to go to the extent to not call Caldwell a historian, or looking at his work as not contributing to the field of History? I hope not. I love Caldwell’s work and have no problem calling it history, but I am sure Caldwell does not have the same historical training as people who actually have PhDs in History, but so what?

The way we label people to call them economists, historians, philosophers, political scientists, etc etc is by looking at their work and seeing how it relates to specific fields. Not only that, but to also show how their works contribute to the given field. When Ehrman claims to be a historian, you have to put it in context to his studies on Jesus and how he determines Jesus as an historical figure, the same way we would do it with anybody else. I don’t know, am I missing something? This seems like a perfectly logical way to explain how we label people this way. It sure makes more sense than, “If they don’t have a degree in History, they shouldn’t call themselves historians.”


Me: are you saying you cant be a historian without having a degree in history? are you saying that the method Bart uses to claim jesus as a historical figure is not the same method used by other historians to claim others as historical figures… come on now, you have to do better than this..

Him/Her: Yes that is what I’m saying. If I wrote a book about brain surgery, does that make me a brain surgeon? Historian is a career choice, which involves a lot of education, it’s not something you can become just because you decide to write a book on the subject. At best, Bart is an amateur historian, which I would give as much respect to as I would an amateur brain surgeon.


5 responses to “Oh I Should Stop Youtube Commenting

  1. Well, it’s been a while since you’ve posted. Good to see you again, Isaac!

    But, I have a small issue with your choice of words…this might seem like petty semantics, but still.

    You said that Bruce Caldwell of Duke University is an “economic historian”. Isn’t that incorrect? Isn’t the proper term, “historian of economics” or “historian of political economy” or “historian of economic thought”?

    An economic historian studies historic occurences and phenomena in economic history (i.e., standards of living in a particular time period and location). A historian of economic thought, on the other hand, examines the intellectual history behind economic concepts (i.e., the Real Bills Doctrine and the Quantity Theory of Money) and the nuances of thought of historic intellectual figures in economics (i.e., the intellectual development of Irving Fisher or Joseph A. Schumpeter).

  2. And just to add to your point: Ehrman is eminently qualified to talk about the historical Jesus. Why?

    Because outside of a few scattered references in pagan authors (whose value is all highly questionable, since later Christians have altered the texts), the only real source for Jesus is the New Testament (NT).

    Ehrman is a critical expert on the primary sources for Jesus — the writings in the NT. It is easy for him to then take the next step and talk about history. He is certainly very qualified to that.

    As for William Lane Craig, he is an idiot, quite frankly.

    Are you interested in the history and origin of Christianity?

    I recommend 3 brilliant books:

    Bernheim, Pierre-Antoine. 1997. James, Brother of Jesus. SCM, London.

    Goulder, M. D. 1995, St. Paul versus St. Peter: A Tale of Two Missions. Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, KY.

    Tabor, James D. 2012. Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity. Simon and Schuster, New York.

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