This is the final post in a series of useful quotes for Christians from Dr. Bart Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012). Posting these quotations is not an endorsement of Dr. Ehrman in general or even of this book in particular, but these quotations are, in my view, indubitably very useful. Biblically faithful scholarship on the Old and New Testament's inspiration and composition in history can be found here for the Old Testament and here for the New Testament; note the series of classes on the Old Testament and archaeology on YouTube here as well.
Ehrman on the mythicist argument that all the gospel accounts are simply one source, Mark, because of (alleged) literary dependence—the argument invalid even from a theologically liberal bent:
Some mythicists . . . have taken . . . [the] thought among New Testament scholars that both Matthew and Luke had access to the Gospel of Mark and used it for many of their stories of Jesus . . . to a faulty end to argue that all of our Gospel accounts (even John, which has very little to do with Mark) ultimately go back to Mark so that we have only one source, not multiple sources, of the life of Jesus. Nothing could be further from the truth. . . . significant portions of both . . . Matthew and Luke . . . are not related in any way to Mark’s accounts. . . . Matthew and Luke record extensive, independent traditions about Jesus’s life, teachings, and death. . . . and so by the year 80 or 85 [the incorrect and false late theologically liberal date for the period of time Matthew and Luke were written; Matthew was probably actually written c. A. D. 40, and Luke c. A. D. 55] we have at least three independent accounts of Jesus’ life . . . all within a generation or so of Jesus himself. . . . But that is not all. There are still other independent Gospels. . . . The Gospel of John . . . does not appear to have received his accounts from any or all of [the Synoptic Gospels] . . . so within the first century we have four independent accounts of Jesus’s life and death. . . . [T]he famous Gospel of Thomas . . . from the early second century, say 110-120 CE . . . is independent . . . not derive[d] from the canonical texts. To that extent it is a fifth independent witness to the life and teachings of Jesus. . . . The same can be said of the Gospel of Peter . . . an independent narrative . . . of Jesus’s trial, death, and resurrection . . . a sixth independent Gospel account of Jesus’s life and death. . . . Another independent account occurs in . . . Papyrus Egerton 2. . . . a seventh independent account. . . . [I]f we restrict ourselves . . . to a hundred years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death, we have at least seven independent accounts, some of them quite extensive. (It is important to recall: even if some of these sources are dependent on one another in some passages—for example, Matthew and Luke on Mark—they are completely independent in others, and to that extent they are independent witnesses.) And so it is quite wrong to argue that Mark is our only independent witness to Jesus as a historical person. The other six accounts are either completely or partially independent as well. For a historian these provide a wealth of materials to work with, quite unusual for accounts of anyone, literally anyone, in the ancient world. And that is not nearly all. . . . [O]ur surviving accounts . . . were based on earlier written sources that no longer survive . . . Luke . . . knew of “many” earlier authors who had compiled narratives about the subject matter that he . . . narrate[s], the life of Jesus. . . . When dealing only with Matthew, Mark, and Luke . . . [w]e are talking about at least four sources: Mark, Q, M, and L, the latter two of which could easily have represented . . . many other written sources. . . . The most . . . authoritative . . . commentary on Mark . . . contends that Mark used . . . sources . . . even our earliest surviving Gospel was based on multiple sources. . . . The Gospel of John too is widely thought to have been based on written sources . . . [S]cholars have mounted strenuous arguments that . . . the Gospel of Peter [and] the Gospel of Thomas . . . go back to written sources[.] . . .
All of these written sources I have mentioned are earlier than the surviving Gospels; they all corroborate many of the key things said of Jesus in the Gospels; and most important they are all independent of one another. . . . We cannot think of the early Christian Gospels as going back to a solitary source that “invented” the idea that there was a man Jesus. The view that Jesus existed is found in multiple independent sources that must have been circulating throughout various regions of the Roman Empire[.] . . . Where would the solitary source that “invented” Jesus be? Within a couple of decades of the traditional date of his death, we have numerous accounts of his life found in a broad geographical span. In addition to Mark, we have Q, M (which is possibly made of multiple sources), L (also possibly multiple sources), two or more passion narratives, a sign source, two discourse sources, the kernel . . . behind the Gospel of Thomas, and possibly others. And these are just the ones we know about. . . . Luke says that there were “many” of them . . . he may well have been right. And once again, this is not the end of the story. . . . Form Criticism . . . [indicates that] there were stories being told about Jesus for a very long time not just before our surviving Gospels but even before their sources had been produced. . . . Anyone who thinks that Jesus existed has no problem answering the question . . . [“H]ow far back do these traditions go?[”] . . . [T]hey ultimately go back to things Jesus said and did while he was engaged in his public ministry[.] . . . But even anyone who just wonders if Jesus existed has to assume that there were stories being told about him in the 30s and 40s. For one thing, . . . how else would someone like Paul have known to persecute the Christians, if Christians didn’t exist? And how could they exist if they didn’t know anything about Jesus?
Ehrman on multiple lines of evidence for Jesus existing:
[I]t should be clear that historians do not need to rely on only one source (say, the Gospel of Mark) for knowing whether or not the historical Jesus existed. He is attested clearly by Paul, independently of the Gospels, and in many other sources as well: the speeches in Acts, which contain material that predate Paul’s letters, and later in Hebrews, 1 and 2 Peter, Jude, Revelation, Papias, Ignatius, and 1 Clement. These are ten witnesses that can be added to our seven independent Gospels (either entirely or partially independent), giving us a great variety of sources that broadly corroborate many of the reports about Jesus without evidence of collaboration. And this is not counting all of the oral traditions that were in circulation even before these surviving written accounts. Moreover, the information about Jesus known to Paul appears to go back to the early 30s of the Common Era, as arguably does some of the material in the book of Acts. The information about Jesus in these sources corroborates as well aspects of the Gospel traditions, some of which can be dated to the 30s, to Aramaic-speaking Palestine. Together all of these sources combine to make a powerful argument that Jesus was not simply invented but that he existed as a historical person in Palestine.
The value of Paul’s testimony to Jesus existing:
Paul was personally acquainted with Jesus’s closest disciple, Peter, and Jesus’s own brother, James. . . . We have several traditions that Jesus actually had brothers (it is independently affirmed in Mark, John, Paul, and Josephus). In multiple independent sources one of these brothers is named James. So too Paul speaks of James as his lord’s brother. Surely the most obvious, straightforward, and compelling interpretation is the one held by every scholar of Galatians that, as far as I know, walks the planet. Paul is referring to Jesus’s own brother. . . . [I]n the letter to the Galatians Paul states as clearly as possible that he knew Jesus’s brother. Can we get any closer to an eyewitness report than this? . . . Paul came to know James around 35-36 CE, just a few years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death. . . . Surely James, his own brother, would know if he lived. . . . The fact that Paul knew Jesus’s closest disciple and his own brother throws a real monkey wrench into the mythicist view that Jesus never lived.
Mythicists claim falseley that Nazareth did not exist in Christ’s day:
One supposedly legendary feature of the Gospels . . . is in fact one of the more common claims found in the writings of the mythicists. It is that the alleged hometown of Jesus, Nazareth, in fact did not exist but is itself a myth[.] . . . Many compelling pieces of archaeological evidence indicate that in fact Nazareth did exist in Jesus’s day[.] . . . For one thing, archaeologists have excavated a farm connected with the village, and it dates to the time of Jesus. . . . [A]nother discovery . . . in ancient Nazareth . . . is a house that dates to the days of Jesus. . . . Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of four acres . . . populated by Jews of modest means. . . . No wonder this place is never mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, Josephus, or the Talmud. It was far too small, poor, and insignificant. Most people had never heard of it, and those who had heard didn’t care. Even though it existed, it is not the place someone would make up as the hometown of the messiah. Jesus really came from there, as attested in multiple sources.
Miscellaneous statements of value from such a prominent theological skeptic and liberal:
The alleged “Q” document does not exist today: “Q . . . is a document that no longer survives, but [only] appears to have once existed [to theological liberals, at least].
So far as I know there are no longer any form critics among us who agree with the precise formulations of Schmidt, Dibelius, and Bultmann, the pioneers in this field.
Apollonius of Tyana . . . [was] a historical person, a Pythagorean philosopher who lived some fifty years after Jesus.
Jesus is the most important person in the history of the West, looked at from a historical, social, or cultural perspective, quite apart from his religious significance. And so of course the earliest sources of information we have about him, the New Testament Gospels, are supremely important. And not just the Gospels, but all the books of the New Testament.
Daniel 9 . . . [relates] in precise detail what will happen to the people of Jerusalem over the course of “seventy weeks” . . . [t]he weeks are interpreted within the text itself to mean seventy “weeks of years”—that is, one week represents seven years.
[T]he Old Testament prophet Micah said the savior would come from Bethlehem . . . Micah 5:2[.]
It is true that we have far more manuscripts for the books of the New Testament than for Homer, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius—name your ancient author. . . . [T]he Gospels are among the best attested books from the ancient world[.] . . . [W]e have thousands of manuscripts . . . we are . . . not . . . lacking manuscripts. . . . If we had no clue what was originally in the writings of Paul or in the Gospels, [an] objection . . . [based on] . . . numbers of variations [in NT manuscripts] . . . might carry more weight. But there is not a textual critic on the planet who thinks this, since not a shred of evidence leads in this direction. . . . [I]n the vast majority of cases, the wording of these authors is not in dispute.
For . . . the Christian author of the book of Revelation[,] the future kingdom would be earthly, through and through (Revelation 20-21).
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 74-86.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 140-141. See his very convincing summary of the evidence on 171-174.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 144-146, 151, 156.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 191-197.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 48.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 85.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 209.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 95.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 168.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 189.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 178, 180-181.
 Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2012) 258.