I have been browsing recently through Bart Ehrman’s book about Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene:The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend only to discover with great dismay and some amazement that Jesus’s anointing by Mary, as narrated in Mark 14, took place in Galilee.

I seem to cherish different recollections from my Sunday school lessons, namely that the anointing narrated by Mark took place in Bethany, which is a few miles away from Jerusalem. In Mark 14:10, Judas goes to the chief priests in order to betray Jesus. Soon after, the disciples make the preparations for the Passover. Everything in the context suggests that Jesus is “hovering” around Jerusalem.

Well, professor Ehrman tries to dissipate some of the confusion about the various Mary’s in the NT, but manages to introduce some confusion about the location where unctio Bethaniae took place.

Here is the passage which made me rub my eyes in disbelief.

I am inclined to think that Bart Ehrman secretly believes in the ubiquity of the historical Jesus. Or otherwise thinks that Jesus could teleport himself (and his disciples) from Galilee to Jerusalem in a matter of seconds.

I am about to finish Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth and I think he does a good job refuting the silly claims of the mythicists (most of them pseudo-scholars anyway) who deny that there ever existed a person called Jesus of Nazareth.

As to Ehrman’s views about who Jesus really was, I don’t find them persuasive. But perhaps they are coherent for somebody who discounts the miraculous and thinks that the resurrection never happened.

These general impressions aside, I was somewhat surprised to discover that Ehrman not only misquotes Jesus, but also Pseudo-Apollodorus. I suspect that the following fragment in Ehrman’s book is ultimately based on an excerpt from Bibliotheca.

And so in Ehrman’s version of the legend, Zeus supplants not only the poor husband, but also poor baby Heracles. Ah, those spiteful gods who like to have their fingers in every pie!


᾿Αλκμήνη δὲ δύο ἐγέννησε παῖδας, Διὶ μὲν ῾Ηρακλέα, μιᾷ νυκτὶ πρεσβύτερον, ᾿Αμφιτρύωνι δὲ ᾿Ιφικλέα. τοῦ δὲ παιδὸς ὄντος ὀκταμηνιαίου δύο δράκοντας ὑπερμεγέθεις ῞Ηρα ἐπὶ τὴν εὐνὴν ἔπεμψε, διαφθαρῆναι τὸ βρέφος θέλουσα.

And Alcmena bore two sons, to wit, Hercules, whom she had by Zeus and who was the elder by one night, and Iphicles, whom she had by Amphitryon. When the child was eight months old, Hera desired the destruction of the babe and sent two huge serpents to the bed.

Apollodorus, vol. 1: Library and Epitome (English), S. J. G. Frazer, Ed., 1921, p. 175 (Medford, MA: Perseus Digital Library).

Bibliotheca (sub nomine Apollodori), ed. R. Wagner, Apollodori bibliotheca. Pediasimi libellus de duodecim Herculis laboribus, Leipzig, Teubner, 1894, 1‒169.