Bart Ehrman has responded to Richard Carrier's review of Did Jesus Exist? in a couple of posts on his blog here and here. Happily he responded in the Public Forum so anyone can read them. He admits to a couple of mistakes, insists that he is right and Carrier is wrong about a couple of points, and insists that Carrier is misinterpreting his statements or taking them out of context in a couple of cases. Unfortunately I don't have the expertise to evaluate the substance of all these disagreements, but I do know what I want and expect out of a book by Ehrman.
For me the important issue is how well informed about mythicism someone will be after reading Did Jesus Exist? I knew nothing about textual criticism prior to reading Misquoting Jesus. After reading it I found that I could follow reasonably sophisticated discussions of the topic, ask intelligent questions, and generally spot the difference between someone who knew their stuff and someone who was just bluffing. I have had many debates with internet apologists using Ehrman’s works as a reference and I don’t think that I have ever been caught short due to having an inaccurate picture of the evidence and arguments on either side of a question.
My standard for evaluating all of Carrier’s criticisms and Ehrman’s defenses is whether someone who entered an argument with a mythicist using Did Jesus Exist? is likely to wind up with egg on his face if he relied on Ehrman in the way that I have relied on him in arguments with Christian apologists.
(1) Tacitus: Carrier says that Ehrman got some nitpicky details wrong about Tacitus. Ehrman says that his statements are correct.
Edge: Ehrman. The main thing is that none of this is likely to come up in an argument with a mythicist.
(2) Pliny: Carrier says that Erhman got some nitpicky details about Pliny wrong. Ehrman admits he made a mistake in citation but says that there was no need to go into the other nitpicky details.
Edge: Ehrman. Once again, none of it this is likely to matter in an argument with a mythicist.
(3) Roman records: Carrier says that Ehrman was wrong about what kind of records the Romans kept. Ehrman says Carrier is talking about records that were kept in Egypt and he was talking about what we might expect to find in Palestine.
Edge: Carrier. The general propensity of the Romans to keep records is clearly relevant to the kind of records we might expect to find regarding Jesus of Nazareth. I interpret Ehrman to be saying that Romans didn't keep the relevant type of records at all. “If Romans were careful record keepers, it is passing strange that we have no record, not of Jesus but of nearly anyone who lived in the first century.” (p. 29) I think a person could wind up looking very foolish arguing this point with a mythicist if he didn't know that there were such records kept in Egypt.
(4) The Peter priapus: Carrier says Ehrman was wrong about a penis-nosed statue of Peter in the Vatican’s collection. Ehrmans says the statue isn’t of Peter.
Edge: Carrier. It is important to know whether mythicists are misinterpreting the existing evidence or inventing evidence from whole cloth. Ehrman makes it sound like the mythicists are inventing things: “There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this which love to make things up.” (p.24) Little is more embarrassing than having someone produce a piece of evidence that you have just accused them of inventing.
(5) Earlier Jesus: Carrier says Ehrman was wrong about whether any sources ever had Jesus living in the early 1st or 2nd century BC rather than the early 1st century AD. Ehrman says that all he meant was that those sources weren’t relevant to Paul's understanding.
Edge: Carrier. Once again, it is important to know whether mythicists are misinterpreting existing sources or inventing stories from whole cloth. Ehrman wrote "[T]he logic of Paul’s understanding of the resurrection show[s] that he thought that the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were recent events. I should stress that this is the view of all of our sources that deal with the matter at all” (p. 251). I think that Ehrman is clearly saying that no such source exists rather than that no such source was available to Paul.
(6) Earl Doherty: Carrier says Ehrman was wrong to say that Earl Doherty fails to acknowledge that the scholars he cites don’t agree with his ultimate conclusion. Ehrman says that Doherty “often gives the impression that the scholars he quotes agree with him on a point when they expressly do not.”
Edge: Carrier. Ehrman is often criticized unfairly by Christian apologists for the "impression" he gives rather than for what he actually says, e.g., "Ehrman makes it sound like we can't know anything at all about the text of the New Testament." Although this wouldn't come up in a debate, it is very disappointing to see Ehrman trying to justify a misstatement about someone else on these grounds.
(7) Dying and rising gods: Carrier says Ehrman is wrong about the dying and rising Gods. Ehrman says he got it right.
Edge: Too close to call (for me). This is obviously a very important issue for the mythicist argument and it comes up many times in the book. I don’t understand the issue well enough to say who’s right, but it doesn’t look to me like Ehrman is as dogmatic as Carrier implies so I don’t think that I would make any blanket statements based on Did Jesus Exist?, and hence I would not wind up with egg on my face when arguing with a mythicist.
(8) Carrier's credentials: Carrier says Ehrman is wrong about the degrees he holds. Ehrman admits the mistake and says he doesn't know where he got the erroneous information.
Edge: Carrier. Although this is never going to matter in a debate, I cannot see any excuse for Ehrman not checking this and the information is easy to find on the internet.
Overall, I have to agree with the substance of many of Carrier's criticisms, although I think that the tone of his review probably left something to be desired.