Mike has recently described his response to Bart Ehrman as an apologetic. I can't help but read Mike's statement about his latest book through this lens:
In a nutshell, I’d say: (1) The Gospels are historically reliable and are reasonable guides to Jesus; (2) The Gospels were probably transmitted in a complex web of oral and written traditions. (3) Social-memory is probably the best hermeneutical framework for understanding the origins of the Gospel traditions.
I'd be interested to know whether he thinks that he is doing apologetics in his latest book. But, whether or not this is a key element of his method, it will be how his book is read by many. Readers will read how they read. I've experienced this very problem with my own writing. But I digress.
I would like to point out that Bart Ehrman is also interested in Social Memory theory and will utilize this research in an upcoming book. What does this tell us? Very simply, the interdisciplinary dialectic that we call "Social Memory" is not a method, nor does it prescribe a method for the historian. Mike is quite right that it is a theory that functions as a "hermeneutical framework." I am convinced that it is indeed quite valuable for the study of Jesus and Christian origins. I've been singing this tune for a while now. But, as Chris Keith has often said, Social Memory does not itself do the work of historiography. It is an undergirding theory. How one adopts and adapts it within one's chosen method is crucial. I look forward to learning how Mike has adopted and adapted Social Memory.