(This chapter features Ehrman discussing claims of contradiction between the Gospels.)
Ehrman speaks of Mark's use of "immediately" in exceptionally vague terms, saying that Mark uses the word "lots" of times in a way that compels him to suppose Jesus' ministry only lasted a short time.
In an earlier version of this essay I reported totals for only one word that translated into "immediately." I have done more checking and found that there are actually two very similar words that are translated as "immediately." Mark uses these words a total of 57 times; but Luke uses the same two words 21 times. Matthew uses them only 15 times. Word counts (even vague ones like "lots" mean very little, so let's do what Ehrman did not and analyze Mark's use of "immediately" to see whether we are forced to a view of a compressed ministry of Jesus. Let's look at a few samples, and then assess the total impact of the uses.
Mark 1:12 And immediately the Spirit driveth him into the wilderness.
Any compression here? No.
Mark 1:28 And immediately his fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee.
None here either; this refers to the speed with which the onset of Jesus' fame occurred.
Mark 1:31 And he came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered unto them.
I cannot see how the quickness of a fever leaving compresses the ministry time of Jesus.
Mark 1:42 And as soon as he had spoken, immediately the leprosy departed from him, and he was cleansed.
It does not seem to work where leprosy is concerned either! There's also one later that also refers to a man getting his sight back (10:52).
Mark 2:8 And immediately when Jesus perceived in his spirit that they so reasoned within themselves, he said unto them, Why reason ye these things in your hearts?
Could this compress Jesus' ministry into a few months? Not that I can see.
Mark 2:12 And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.
I can't get it out of this one either.
Mark 4:5 And some fell on stony ground, where it had not much earth; and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of earth:
From within a parable, we'd hardly get any markers of how long Jesus' ministry lasted. The next three are in the same parable (15, 16, 17) and so are two more (4:29, 6:27).
Mark 5:2 And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit...
My goodness, we can practically hear those years of Jesus' ministry being smooshed down into months by this one, can't we?
Mark 5:30 And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?
Same here, eh? I don't....think so!
Mar 6:50 For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.
Mar 14:43 And immediately, while he yet spake, cometh Judas, one of the twelve, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
Compression? Not hardly.... Not one of Mark's uses of the word "immediately" serves in a way that would compress esus' ministry time. Many uses are in parables. Several refer to healing processes. And on it goes. In this light, one wonders how Ehrman supposes these "immediatelys" have any bearing on the chronology of Jesus' ministry. They simply don't.