I mean no offense, but as the comments following the question above attest, the OP’s real purpose is to find a refutation to a scholarly argument he hasn’t yet read and doesn’t fully understand or appreciate. Attempts to make the question suitable to this site forced the OP to focus on a single thin example of Dr. Ehrman’s work, undocumented and barely sketched out here for others to critique. Explicit throughout is the mistaken idea that Christianity and the Bible need ‘defending’ from Ehrman and that ‘advocates’ and ‘believers’ necessarily oppose his critical scholarship. Referring to Ehrman himself as “the atomic bomb of Christianity” violates the respectful tone expected of participants on this site.
Dr. Bart Ehrman, Critical Scholar of New Testament Texts
Some clarification, then, might be helpful. At issue is the evidence Bart Ehrman has offered on the question of whether changes made to the biblical texts by early Christian scribes were theologically motivated. This was the topic of two Ehrman books: perhaps his most popular title, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (HarperOne, 2007), and a more academic handling of the same issue, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture: The Effect of Early Christological Controversies on the Text of the New Testament (Oxford University Press, 1993).
These are not works of theology but of history. Ehrman explores the historical evidence surrounding variants in the biblical texts, he posits explanations for the differences based, again, on the historical evidence, and he suggests how these changes had implications on the development of early Christian theology. For example, he writes:
“Christianity is a religion of the book. From the outset, it has
stressed specific texts as authoritative scripture. Yet not one of
these original, authoritative texts exists today. We have only late
copies, dating from the second century to the sixteenth. And these
copies vary considerably. Indeed, the 5,700 manuscripts of the Greek
New Testament that have been catalogued contain more variations than
there are words in the New Testament. Some scholars say there are
200,000 variant readings, others say 300,000, 400,000 or even more!
“Some variant readings are simply scribal mistakes. Others are
editorial ‘improvements’ intended to make the text easier to
understand. Still others are deliberate attempts by the scribes to
make the texts more amenable to the doctrines being espoused by
Christians of their own persuasion and to eliminate the possible
‘misuse’ of the texts by Christians affirming heretical beliefs."
These facts, as with most of Ehrman's scholarship, are generally not disputed. There is no doubt, even among conservative scholars, for example, that Mark 16:9-20 is a late addition to the original gospel, or that the original text of Mark 1:41 is uncertain – variant texts show Jesus responding to a leper either in compassion or in anger. Of course scholars debate the finer points and may draw differing conclusions from the same facts, but Ehrman is generally regarded as a good and fair historian and a clear writer, and the bulk of his academic work reflects the consensus view of contemporary critical scholarship.
What is the Textual Evidence? General Agreement
Whether there are 200,000 or 400,000 variant renderings of the Greek texts – and whether ‘many’ or only ‘some’ of these were motivated by a scribe’s carelessness or purposeful theological intent – scholars will debate and differ in good conscience. Evangelical scholars Andreas Kostenberger and Michael Kruger summarize their review of Ehrman’s position:
“Did the battles over heresy and orthodoxy in earliest Christianity
affect the transmission of the New Testament text? Yes. No doubt a
variety of scribal changes are due to these early theological
disputes. .... Since the New Testament is a historical book that has
been passed down to us through normal historical means (copying
manuscripts by hand), then it inevitably contains the normal kinds of
scribal variations that we would expect from any document of
antiquity. No doubt some of these scribal variations were intentional
and motivated by the theological debates of the day.”
These conservatives see no need to ‘defend’ the Bible or Christianity against historical or textual evidence of the kind Ehrman describes.
What are the Implications for Theology? Opinions Differ
Where they think his opinion wanting, however, is in the implications Ehrman draws from the evidence. In his popular books and public debates Ehrman often describes how the historical facts impacted his personal beliefs and led him away from fundamentalist Christian religion. For Ehrman, studying the Greek texts and their hundreds of thousands of variants undermined [both] his confidence that the ‘original text’ of the Bible was ever recoverable, and his conservative view of biblical inerrancy, authority, and textual reliability. Kostenberger and Kruger weigh the evidence differently: they conclude that “the vast number of textual variants is ‘insignificant,’ and ... we can have confidence that the text we possess is, in essence, the text that was written in the first century."
Determining whether variant readings are insignificant or whether the evidence is sufficient to instill confidence that the biblical-text-as-received is in essence the same biblical text of the first century, is largely a matter of personal opinion or a matter of faith. Only those religious beliefs that are incapable of accommodating contrary historical evidence need an apologetic defense.
In other words, if you are going to do battle with Dr. Ehrman, whom you describe as "the atomic bomb of the Christian community," then Isuggest you be prepared to fight fire with fire: your historical evidence against his historical evidence. If you are not willing to do that, perhaps you need to defend your defense of the faith!