This Interview Makes Me Question Bart Ehrman's Scholarship

At the risk of getting entangled in a pointless discussion of whether or not there was a Jesus, I want to point folks to this, very supportive interview with Bart Ehrman on the Reasonable Doubts podcast.] Now, let me say, that I’ve read nothing of Ehrman’s, nor have I read anything rebutting him. I’ve heard interviews with him before, and I’ve heard interviews with people who disagreed with him, but I haven’t gotten into that whole mess about if there was or was not a Jesus, since it seems likely to be one of those eternal arguments where there’s never enough data to give a concrete answer.
Now, what Ehrman says in this interview doesn’t change my position, but it really does make me question that he’s as good a scholar as many people claim. Here’s why: The interview is about his newest book, How Jesus Became God, in which he discusses when people switched from thinking that Jesus was a man to a God, and how that changed over time. During the discussion he brings up three things that have me wondering if he’s put in as much effort in his research as people have thought.
The first is his argument for what Jesus meant when he used the phrase, “Son of Man.” Ehrman argues that there are portions in the text in which it is clear that Jesus is obviously using the phrase to mean Himself, and Jesus did, according to Ehrman, say those things. There are other portions of the text where Jesus uses the phrase in such a manner that it is not obvious who, precisely, Jesus is referring to, and those sections of the text are not things actually spoken by Jesus, since he never would have used the phrase in a non-obviously self-referential manner, because of those places where he did use it in a self-referential manner. Confused? I’ll freely admit that I may have gotten it a bit wrong, but I listened to that section a couple of times and still couldn’t see how it was anything but circular logic on his part. After all, we’re dealing with a document that has been written and rewritten a number of times and the oldest versions of the document date from well after when Jesus was supposed to have lived and died, and have questionable levels of accuracy in them.
That sort of “twigged” me that there might be something amiss, but what really had me jamming on the brakes and screaming, “WTF???” is when he got to talking about the crucifixion and burial of Jesus. First, he says that the always assumed that the scene at the tomb had actually happened. (i.e. that the women find the tomb empty.) Okay, first rule of scientific inquiry, “Throw out all of your assumptions.” That he didn’t do that, makes me wonder what other assumptions he might have had and hasn’t questioned. So he decides to research what happened to people who were executed by Rome by crucifixion. (I’ll get to why it bothers me that he didn’t already know this in a moment.) It turns out that if you were crucified, they just left your body up on the cross to rot. It added to the terror of the punishment, both because the person about to be executed would know that they weren’t going to get the decent burial everyone desired, and because the general public would see your decaying body hanging from the cross for days or weeks afterwards. All of which means that the odds of Jesus ever being buried in a tomb are pretty much nil. Oops.
It didn’t surprise me to hear that the Romans just left the crucified hanging until they rotted away, because I’d read about it prior to this. In the wildly inaccurate Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln. If you’re not familiar with their writings, these are the idiots who inspired Dan Brown to write his stupid books. These idiots (or con artists, if you want to be generous), had enough sense to look back at ancient accounts of what happened to those people crucified by Rome, yet Ehrman, an academic scholar, didn’t.
This doesn’t make me think that Ehrman’s an idiot, but it does make me think that he’s not shed his former religious beliefs enough to take as an objective look at the subject as it requires. This is somewhat understandable, since it often takes people a long period of time to realize that this or that bit of thinking is not really logical, but something tied to their religious upbringing. Still, I’m going to be looking at anything he says with a bit of a jaundiced eye, as I’m going to have to wonder about how deeply he’s thought about the subject. YMMV.