How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee

New York Times bestselling author and Bible expert Bart Ehrman reveals how Jesus’s divinity became dogma in the first few centuries of the early church.The claim at the heart of the Christian faith is that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. But this is not what the original disciples believed during Jesus’s lifetime—and it is not what Jesus claimed about himself. How Jesu...

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Title:How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
Author:Bart D. Ehrman
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Edition Language:English

How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee Reviews

  • Louise

    Bart Ehrman digests biblical scholarship into an easy to read text for believers and non-believers alike. While 270pp is more than sufficient for his thesis, along the way he presents interesting concepts and the reader learns a lot about the process of biblical research.

    Ehrman develops the concept that it was resurrection and its aftermath that confirmed Jesus as equal to god. In learning how "exaltation Christologies gave way to incarnation Christologies" (p. 263), I also learned a host of oth

    Bart Ehrman digests biblical scholarship into an easy to read text for believers and non-believers alike. While 270pp is more than sufficient for his thesis, along the way he presents interesting concepts and the reader learns a lot about the process of biblical research.

    Ehrman develops the concept that it was resurrection and its aftermath that confirmed Jesus as equal to god. In learning how "exaltation Christologies gave way to incarnation Christologies" (p. 263), I also learned a host of other new vocabulary words and terms (synoptic, hyperstasis, heresiology and docstism to name a few).

    The book begins with the context of Jesus's time. Many early religions had human-deity combinations, the emperor was considered a god and it was not uncommon for gods to mate with (or rape) female mortals. While all this was present in his world, Ehrman concludes that in his lifetime Jesus did not claim divinity nor was divinity ascribed to him. Ehrman feels a case can be built that Jesus might have said he was a king, but the case for Jesus claiming divinity for himself is flimsy. There were many apocalyptic preachers in this time. Jesus, is baptized by one, and becomes one.

    The reader learns how unique the gospel of John is. It is the most theological of the gospels and is the only one where Jesus is quoted as alluding to god-like status for himself.Written long after Jesus's death and resurrection, (Ehrman sees these as words ascribed to Jesus, not words he had said.) The other gospels are silent on this. Ehrman concludes that Paul considers Jesus like an angel but not the equal of a god.

    In the two centuries following the death of Jesus, followers had disparate views of how to understand his life and death. Ebionites kept their Jewish customs and saw Christ as a human adopted by God. Theodotians also felt Jesus was a human adopted by god, with some members believing he was divine and others that others that he was a man "empowered" by baptism. Docetists believed him completely divine by nature. Marcionites, Gnostics, Separationists and Modalists all had different interpretations, some believing in the existence of two or more gods. Ideas were first unified by theologians Hippolytus and Tertullian into the concept of the trinity which over the centuries has endured. A description of these schools of thought is followed by a discussion on the early attempts to resolve the (human/divine) "ortho-paradoxes".

    Ehrman concludes with his personal journey. He is up front (from Chapter 1), that while a biblical scholar, he is not a believer. This does not at all color this work which has plenty of information and food for thought for both believers and non-believers. To describe his personal journey he goes back to his understanding of Jesus and the apocalyptic nature of the times. Just as Jesus was "recontexturalized" in the 400 years covered in the text, he continues to be today by believers and non-believers.

    While this will anger fundamentalists, others, believers and non-believers interested in this topic will appreciate the scholarship this book presents.

  • Andrew

    When reading books about religion, it's important to read them for what they proclaim to be rather than what we wish they would be. Bart Ehrman doesn't claim to be doing theology, or offering proof for God, or [insert desired misconception here]. He styles his study as an examination of the historic process by which a first-century Jewish preacher came to be viewed as God by his followers.

    It's a history of belief.

    And in this narrow endeavour Ehrman succeeds. There's a firm grounding in the belie

    When reading books about religion, it's important to read them for what they proclaim to be rather than what we wish they would be. Bart Ehrman doesn't claim to be doing theology, or offering proof for God, or [insert desired misconception here]. He styles his study as an examination of the historic process by which a first-century Jewish preacher came to be viewed as God by his followers.

    It's a history of belief.

    And in this narrow endeavour Ehrman succeeds. There's a firm grounding in the belief systems of the time, especially how Romans and Jews understood divinity. There's also some clever (sometimes too clever) parsing of the New Testament in admirable attempts to reconstruct the apostles' perceptions of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion. And it follows the paths by which those perceptions and beliefs evolved right up to the Council of Nicea and the orthodox belief in Jesus' twin divinity and humanity.

    The requisite quota of German theologians are cited.

    Follow me on Twitter:

  • Dennis Mitton

    I’ve sat in enough churches to know that sooner or later the question will rise: “If Jesus were to walk in here right now would he recognize this place as His church?” In ‘How Jesus Became God’ Bart Ehrman argues well that the answer is no. Not because the modern church is doing it wrong but because the question is wrong. Ehrman argues that our view of Jesus is an amalgam of historical fact, purposeful fiction, and a lot of wishful thinking that would probably surprise even Jesus.

    During the firs

    I’ve sat in enough churches to know that sooner or later the question will rise: “If Jesus were to walk in here right now would he recognize this place as His church?” In ‘How Jesus Became God’ Bart Ehrman argues well that the answer is no. Not because the modern church is doing it wrong but because the question is wrong. Ehrman argues that our view of Jesus is an amalgam of historical fact, purposeful fiction, and a lot of wishful thinking that would probably surprise even Jesus.

    During the first centuries of the Christian church there was a constant battle for the primacy of ideas. Some believed that Jesus was fully human but an excellent moral teacher. A strong argument was made that Jesus was human and adopted by God at his baptism. Gnostics argued that Jesus discovered secret knowledge that was available to anyone as a trade for mortifying the evil flesh. It surprises people today to learn that many early Christians were vehemently anti-Semitic, believing the god of the Jews to be spiteful, mean, and petty in comparison to the gentle teachings of Jesus.

    Ideas, beliefs, and values change over time and the church is no different. In ‘Misquoting Jesus’ Ehrman outlined a strong argument that the New Testament is to some degree a fiction: we really can’t say for sure what the autographical texts said and we have firm evidence of tinkering. The history of the church follows a parallel line. During the first century one could take their pick from various views of Jesus, the new Christian church, and its relation to other religions. As an orthodoxy emerged, competing ideas were rooted out. “Heretics’ were hunted down. False teacher run out of town. The idea that Jesus was ‘very God of very God’ became prominent and dissenters where shunned. This ‘orthodoxy’ would have surprised many early followers of Jesus.

    For readers of Ehrman this will be familiar ground. His writing is accessible and he notes enough references to provide plenty of research. Like the response to his other books, not everyone will be amused. His argument is historical and fact based and doesn’t settle well with current orthodoxy. It’s a good read, though, for anyone interested in early Christianity and the development of the early church. There’s lots to think about here no matter what side of the coin you enjoy. A good book.

  • Will Byrnes

    And it came to pass that I read and ye shall learn of a pretty amazing book. Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman takes on the subject of how, in history, the notion of Jesus as god developed. Was it there from the beginning? How did it arise? What does it even mean? Was he considered divine by believers before conception, at conception, at baptism by John, when he died on the cross, when he rose from the dead, when he headed upstairs to the executive offices? And the answer? Yes.

    As with many myster

    And it came to pass that I read and ye shall learn of a pretty amazing book. Biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman takes on the subject of how, in history, the notion of Jesus as god developed. Was it there from the beginning? How did it arise? What does it even mean? Was he considered divine by believers before conception, at conception, at baptism by John, when he died on the cross, when he rose from the dead, when he headed upstairs to the executive offices? And the answer? Yes.

    As with many mysteries there is a paucity of physical evidence. One might consider Ehrman’s task a very challenging episode of [Incredibly]

    , or maybe fodder for a new version of a favorite show (as if there are not enough already)

    .

    Not much to work with here as far as physical evidence goes, but Ehrman does apply his considerable skill to analyzing what documentation we have, tracing provenance, to the extent possible, applying what we know of the period(s), and lasering in on crucial questions.

    Ehrman makes it very clear that he is not about trying to turn anyone away from a particular set of beliefs.

    Or who said what, and when, where and why did they say it? And who saw what, where, when, how and why?

    My knowledge of the period is extremely limited. Twelve years of Catholic school taught me a lot more about obedience than it did about biblical scholarship, and while I have read the odd book here and there about the period, I claim no particular expertise, so am not in a position to offer a particularly educated consideration of the information presented here. Ehrman, on the other hand, has written vast amounts on things biblical. I refer you to his considerable bona fides,

    . I am inclined to give his very accomplished, educated interpretation of the material he examines a bit more weight than I might the opinions proffered by individuals boasting lesser scholarly accomplishment.

    Key, of course, is the belief that Jesus rose from the dead. Without that there is no such thing as Christianity, as prophets and Messiahs were sold by the gross at the dollar-store equivalent of the era. In fact, Ehrman opens his book citing an unnamed individual whom one might expect is JC, as the details are incredibly reminiscent. But no, it turns out to be

    entirely. (No, not Brian) His pilot was not picked up by the world at large, so you might find him in the antiquity channel’s version of “Brilliant but Cancelled.” And he was not alone. But, since any Tom. Dick, and Appolonius could claim to be a prophet, it was the claim that Jesus was

    that was key to a long run, and Ehrman focuses on that.

    He looks into the details of Jesus’s death and supposed return. For example, how likely was it that he was buried at all? The answer will surprise you. How about the likelihood that someone who had just tried to have him done in would arrange a burial? How likely might it be for wanted criminals, as the apostles were, to stick around after their chief had been so harshly treated? It continues, but you get the idea. Each tiny piece needs to be examined.

    One of the things that Ehrman does consistently and well is to define terms. Divine? In what sense? There is a lot of variety in levels of divinity. Ehrman points out a pyramidal structure common to many religions, and how supposedly monotheistic faiths shuck and jive trying to explain how the multiple divine entities in their religions do not violate the monotheism-

    covenant (it’s in the mouse print). He applies his piercing logic to notions of resurrection as well.

    (

    knows about that, for sure) So what was it that was supposedly seen?

    Who knew there was such a level of detail to consider? Was the risen Jesus made of chunky human flesh or the sort ectoplasm more usually associated with someone like, say,

    . Or was he some ethereal non-substance?

    And what about the veracity of the stories that were told of the supposed resurrection?

    So, we are relying, in the gospels at least, on an inconsistent story, from multiple non-witnesses, that was the end result of a decades-long biblical version of the game

    ? These days, of course, you can probably become a god, or at least obtain, Wizard-of-Oz-style, a document attesting to your divinity, by sending a certain sum to a particular web site. (GodsRUs.com would be my guess). It was so much more complicated back then.

    So, what might be less than divine in Ehrman’s examination? Well, we

    digging through some very old material here, and it is not surprising that in a book focused in the Middle East a bit of sand gets in. The level of detail does, on occasion, cause one’s eyes to ascend to another level of being. But I found this a fascinating, and educational read, opening up many notions to consideration that I had never really thought about. Whatever it may do for your spirit, this book will definitely stimulate your brain.

    Whether you find this examination of history divinely inspired or deserving a place on the lower levels of you-know-where, it is certainly a fascinating look at a critical element of history, and, by implication, religious belief. But don’t take my word for it. See, feel and read it for yourself. And if it doesn’t work for you the first time, hey, you can always come back to it.

    Posted May 23, 2014

    =============================

    Links to the author’s

    ,

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    pages

    Ehrman’s blog,

    Check here for a very nifty collection of

    of the author

  • Michael

    When I was young, around twelve or so, and attending church regularly, I was already quite taken with the field of history and was a voracious reader. I was also becoming less engaged with the dogmatic aspects of Lutheranism in particular, as well as dogma in general. What did keep me "in the fold" was the music, the art, the pageantry, my love for the little girl down the street, and my burgeoning interest in the origins of Christianity.

    I was fortunate to discover, in a room off the annex entra

    When I was young, around twelve or so, and attending church regularly, I was already quite taken with the field of history and was a voracious reader. I was also becoming less engaged with the dogmatic aspects of Lutheranism in particular, as well as dogma in general. What did keep me "in the fold" was the music, the art, the pageantry, my love for the little girl down the street, and my burgeoning interest in the origins of Christianity.

    I was fortunate to discover, in a room off the annex entrance to the sanctuary, in a broken down bookcase, a multi-volume, scholarly commentary on both Hebrew scripture and the Christian Bible. I began borrowing those books, starting with Volume I: The Pentateuch (the Torah of Judaism), and reading them surreptitiously during Sunday services. I must admit it was heavy lifting for my twelve year old brain. This probably accounts for why I remember few details from those commentaries. What I do remember however, starkly, was my shock at finding out that the scholarly analysis of these ancient texts didn't quite square with the assumptions held by most believers and self-identified Christians. The specific statement which led to my little epiphany was that Moses wasn't the actual author of the books which were ascribed to him. A small thing, I know, but it was this small wedge which cracked the egg for me. I saw in a flash that Christianity existed and evolved in an historical context, yet it was never presented in that context to its congregants. It existed in a perfect cultural and historical vacuum. For me, that commentary let a little air into the closed room of my belief, thereby destroying the vacuum and ultimately showing me the exit from organized religion.

    It's been many years since I left that room, and somewhere, in the last dozen years, I was fortunate in finding the books written by Bart Ehrman. I just finished another one, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee and, as usual, Mr. Ehrman stuns. The question of how a Jewish, Apocalyptic, itinerate preacher, from the back woods of Palestine, became identified as the Lord of the universe, is pretty fascinating. It is a real pleasure to follow the author as he analyzes the textual material and places it in its Jewish, Hellenistic, and Roman context. The particular focus of this volume is the questions of exactly when did Jesus' followers first understand him to be god and what, precisely, they meant by god as applied to Jesus.

    The scholarly gravitas which Ehrman radiates in all of his books is on full display here, but this is not really the best way to introduce yourself to this author's voice and mind. I would highly recommend two of his earlier works, Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted as an introduction.

    Be warned though, these books will challenge basic assumptions, and ask you to re-evaluate cherished beliefs you probably hold.

  • Roberto

    Inizio subito con il dire che questo saggio, scritto da Bart Ehrman, filologo, accademico, biblista specializzato in studi sul Gesù storico, non si ripropone di cambiare la credenza dei lettori in merito a Gesù (Ehrman non è Odifreddi, è uno studioso raffinato e obiettivo). Sostiene infatti correttamente Ehrman:

    "

    "

    Al termine dell'interessante saggio quindi chi crede continuerà a credere e chi non crede continuerà a farlo

    Inizio subito con il dire che questo saggio, scritto da Bart Ehrman, filologo, accademico, biblista specializzato in studi sul Gesù storico, non si ripropone di cambiare la credenza dei lettori in merito a Gesù (Ehrman non è Odifreddi, è uno studioso raffinato e obiettivo). Sostiene infatti correttamente Ehrman:

    "

    "

    Al termine dell'interessante saggio quindi chi crede continuerà a credere e chi non crede continuerà a farlo.

    Ehrman, con metodo, senza pregiudizi e in modo assolutamente pragmatico analizza solo le fonti disponibili, incrociandole e aggiungendoci poco di suo (e in questo caso dicendolo chiaramente).

    Cito solo alcuni punti a mio parere sono interessanti. Innanzitutto l'idea che oggi noi abbiamo di Dio (altissimo, potentissimo, distantissimo) non è quella che avevano le persone a quei tempi. La gente in quei periodi era abituata a parlare di dei pagani che scendevano sulla terra; dei che addirittura si potevano incontrare, basti pensare al fatto che Alessandro Magno era considerato figlio di Zeus, ossia dio egli stesso. In questo contesto, assume una diversa prospettiva l'idea che una persona potesse essere "divina". Resta il fatto che non esiste traccia del fatto che Gesù abbia detto di essere figlio di Dio.

    Un secondo concetto è che i fatti del tempo di Gesù sono stati tramandati solo per via orale. Gli apostoli parlavano aramaico, non sapevano leggere né scrivere e quando Gesù fu crocefisso scapparono tutti a gambe levate dalla paura. E' immaginabile pensare che chi, parlando, cercava di convincere qualcun altro di avere conosciuto una grande persona, si lasciasse trasportare dall'entusiasmo e calcasse un po' la mano con miracoli e aneddoti. Se le cose si svolsero così, è comprensibile che i vangeli, che comparirono decenni dopo scritti in greco da persone istruite, riportassero i fatti in una forma per così dire imprecisa o distorta, tra l'altro parlando in prima persona, come se citassero direttamente la parola di Gesù.

    Un terzo concetto importante è quello della presunta resurrezione, peraltro citata in modo sempre vago e impreciso dalle stesse fonti. Bene, è proprio per questa presunta idea di resurrezione che Gesù ha potuto differenziarsi da tutti le altre centinaia di profeti che circolavano in quei tempi. Senza quella, che "sanciva" la vita oltre la vita, di fatto non ci sarebbe stato cristianesimo.

    Un ottimo saggio, che nonostante la mole si legge bene, anche se spesso i dettagli riportati sono minuziosi e forse non così fondamentali.

    Il senso del libro credo sia contenuto nella frase seguente:

    "

    "

    Un libro che, alla fine, parla di storia.

  • BlackOxford

    Christians, or more precisely Paul of Tarsus, invented not just a religion but also a new form of religion, a religion constituted by belief rather than by ethical or ritual action. This religion was markedly different from that which was practiced by its nominal focus, Jesus. And it was different from all contemporary and subsequent religions. It was a religion that claimed to know the ultimate truth about reality and demanded that its adherents accept, profess, and, if nec

    Christians, or more precisely Paul of Tarsus, invented not just a religion but also a new form of religion, a religion constituted by belief rather than by ethical or ritual action. This religion was markedly different from that which was practiced by its nominal focus, Jesus. And it was different from all contemporary and subsequent religions. It was a religion that claimed to know the ultimate truth about reality and demanded that its adherents accept, profess, and, if necessary, enforce that truth. Such a religion, based on correct belief, is bound to insist that its own origins are divine in order to justify its claim. Faith, that is, created the divine Jesus as an epistemological imperative.

    The above is my view not Ehrman’s. But it could easily form the overarching theory for which Ehrman, and the scholars on which he bases his argument, provide the factual data: Faith, once adopted as the principle of finding out about the world, inevitably leads to the divinization of some part or aspect of the world. The object of faith is not the source of faith but its product. This object is not born complete in the minds and culture of a group but evolves as necessary to protect the principle of faith itself, adapting, and where necessary distorting, existing, usually implicit, epistemological principles as it proceeds. The narrative of

    outlines this historical process.

    Faith, in other words, manufactures a guarantee for its own validity. It constitutes a self-sealing system of thought which is impenetrable. Faith also attaches to what is available to ‘prove’ itself. Paul in his writings, the earliest in Christianity, uses what is convenient (but never central) in Hebrew literature to make his point. No wonder he frequently appears somewhat confused about his object, which is only of secondary importance. This object was not a man, since Paul never met Jesus and apparently knew next to nothing about his life. Nor was it the authority of a religious tradition, scripture, since Paul took great pains to show why historical Judaism was wrong. Faith for Paul is a kind of intellectual obstinacy.

    Paul’s object of faith was a vague idea, his own, which he called Christ. The precise character of this idea was uncertain to him and to his contemporaries. Paul hints at its divinity but can’t seem to make up his mind about what that means. Only subsequently is the confusion reduced, after perhaps six or more generations of faithful believers have a go at retelling, embellishing and editing the stories they have heard about Jesus.* Even then the confusion about Paul’s object never is completely eliminated. Conflicts, heresies, and intellectual politics are the hallmarks of Paul’s religion of faith to the present day.

    The reason for such continuing conflict of course is that Pauline Christianity is an extremely literal affair. Whatever the object of faith, that object must be formulated in words before it is attested by believers. The formula is the only reality of concern, no matter how arcane, incomprehensible, or self-contradictory it may be. Language not experience becomes definitive. Thus the creed (from Latin credere, to believe) takes the place of any emotional or spiritual event in religious life. This, of course, places language itself in the position of a divine, and therefore unchanging, entity. And this in turn necessitates ecclesiastical control of the meaning and interpretation of language. Ultimately, religious authority claims its place not just as the arbiter of doctrine but also as the arbiter of thought itself.

    Christianity is, consequently, a decidedly aberrant form of thought. Aberrant because it is a departure from every other standard of thought, philosophical or religious, that has ever been proposed. But it is also aberrant in its classification of all other modes of thought as various sorts of belief in competition with itself, as statements of alternative belief rather than what they are: ethical and liturgical rituals... and some very fine poetry that no one takes literally.

    The world, Pauline Christianity claims, cannot live without faith and refuses to admit even the possibility that faith is its own questionable invention. Christianity’s self-guarantee is constituted by the Incarnation and Resurrection, the doctrines of God’s becoming a part of his own creation and overcoming it - not as explanatory myth, or edifying example, or evocatively fey poetry but as certain truth. It is not sufficient to act as if these doctrines were true; it is necessary to convince oneself fervently and without hesitation that they are true in order to be ‘saved.’ This distinguishes Christianity not only from all other religions but from all other modes of thinking.

    Therefore, according to Christianity, the object of faith is of central relevance to human life. Of course, in the ensuing debate about this object, Christianity has both the home team advantage as well as age on its side. The Christian apologetic makes all religion a matter of faith: Judaism is incomplete faith; Islam is erroneous faith, Buddhism doesn’t merit the term faith at all; and polytheism, ancient and modern, is childish, superstitious faith. Atheism, of course, is simply ungrounded faith because it refuses to specify a divine object. The issue being pressed is faith not Jesus - this is the perennial sleight of hand which has been performed by Christian apologists for two millennia in plain sight.

    So I think that Ehrman has done a service in summarising the historical, sociological, and biblical research about

    Jesus became God. But I also think he misses something important about

    Jesus became God. This why it seems to me is inherent in Paul’s conception of faith as the essence of religion. Once his premise about faith is accepted, something or someone has to be supplied as its object. Anything will do, no matter how mundane or abstract. Paul invented Christ as that object. More modern folk, imbued with the Pauline spirit, have substituted any number of cult leaders, other arcane deities, language in the form of uncertain ancient texts, or even alien beings as their objects of faith.

    To put the matter bluntly, if somewhat crudely: Paul’s most enduring contribution to the world is not his promotion of the divinisation of Jesus. Rather it is his establishment of the principle of faith as a legitimate criterion for human action and a requirement for authentic religion. To put it even more crudely, it is this same Paul who has provided the world with its first defensible theory of terror: faith justifies. It justifies not just unkindness, but also cruelty, murder, war and the continuous persecution of any who oppose the idea of faith. Medieval Crusaders, ISIS, the Know-Nothing American fundamentalists, and the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult all share Paul’s theology of a justifying faith. It seems to me obvious that the evolution of this theory of faith has come to mean far more than the question of Jesus’s divinity.

    *Ehrman has raised considerable ire among evangelicals by suggesting that the idea of Jesus’s divinity evolved. Authors like Larry Hurtado claim that the recognition of his divine status was ‘explosive’ and complete ab initio. This despite a clear development in thought from Paul’s epistles to John’s gospel, a period of seventy years or more (and some rather different accounts in the intervening Synoptic Gospels). The indisputable fact that the character of Jesus’s divinity remained problematic even among fervent believers over centuries also undermines any claim to ‘explosive certainty’. One reason why I am concerned to shift attention to the epistemological principle of faith is that it really doesn’t matter whether the ‘revelation’ of Christianity was more or less instantaneous or developed in the course of time. Once faith becomes the criterion of truth, it demands a divine object. Paul apparently had such an explosive experience. Others had to interpret his reports. In doing so, they differed, and continue to differ, in their opinions about what he meant. To claim instant recognition would seem absurd as well as irrelevant.

  • Darwin8u

    . - Revelation 3:16

    'How Jesus Became God' is a good packaging of current scholarship on the historical Jesus for the neophyte. The book basically explores how the crucified Jesus transformed into not just the Messiah, but the Lord of all creation. He examines the exaltation of Jesus from an apocalyptic preacher from Galilee into a figure fully equal with God. He looks at how this type of change happened

    . - Revelation 3:16

    'How Jesus Became God' is a good packaging of current scholarship on the historical Jesus for the neophyte. The book basically explores how the crucified Jesus transformed into not just the Messiah, but the Lord of all creation. He examines the exaltation of Jesus from an apocalyptic preacher from Galilee into a figure fully equal with God. He looks at how this type of change happened in Greek and Roman culture, in Jewish culture, and how Paul and later disciples of Christ were influential in transforming their crucified prophet into their risen Lord. He also spends a fair amount of time explaining why it is impossible for historians to validate miracles, a person's divinity or specific religious events like Christ's resurrection.

    Perhaps, I was just wishing for a bit more meat on the bones of this book or perhaps I was just not that surprised by many of Ehrman's points (He has covered several sections of this book in previous books about early Christianity and Jesus), but I kinda felt like this was just a watered-down repackaging of some of his better, more academic past efforts. Nothing too revelatory or Earth shattering. For me, it was about the same level of writing as Aslan's

    . It just seems these books while aiming for a bit of controversy (controversy sells), don't load their books with enough weight. Those who agree with them have already traveled a bunch of this same ground, those who don't agree with them are served a slim dish that seems a bit too facile. Or maybe it was just me.

  • Gary Patton

    In his introduction, Mr. Ehrman explains that he is an ex-believer in Christianity and an historian. What a wonderful coincidence, I thought, because both statements describe me, as well.

    Like Mr. Ehrman, I too have credentials as an historian although I have never practiced as one. I earned a Master's Degree in History from the University of Toronto in 1966.

    Also like him, I have spent all the years since reading about and getting to know the historical Jesus from the Bible as well has secondar

    In his introduction, Mr. Ehrman explains that he is an ex-believer in Christianity and an historian. What a wonderful coincidence, I thought, because both statements describe me, as well.

    Like Mr. Ehrman, I too have credentials as an historian although I have never practiced as one. I earned a Master's Degree in History from the University of Toronto in 1966.

    Also like him, I have spent all the years since reading about and getting to know the historical Jesus from the Bible as well has secondary sources about Christianity and Jesus.

    I did one crucial thing different than Mr. Ehrman which you need to know before reading further. I also came to know Jesus, intimately, as a Friend as well as my Master and Saviour (Romans 10:8-12), through the power of the Holy Spirit whom I know lives and operates within and out of me. (1 Corinthians 6:19)

    As a result, several years ago, I turned my back on the traditional religion called, incorrectly, Christianity by the Catholic Church. (Jesus Followers called what they practised "The Way", the only three references to 'Christianity' in the entire New Covenant are each pejorative, and 'Christ' is a transliteration, not a translation, of the Greek word, 'kristos'.

    The correct translation of kristos, and what people heard when it was used to describe Jesus when He walked the earth, is 'King'.

    That documentable, but seldom shared truth by Bible translators for traditional reasons, Mr. Ehrman doesn't share ...if he even knows it!)

    Forsaking traditional religious Christendom, I became a radical, like my Saviour, plus like Him, irreligious.

    Now, I simply follow Jesus, "God, The One & Only"!

    In Chapter 1, the author shares about someone very intriguing to Ehrman and his thesis but about whom I'd heard nor ever researched. He was a man named Apollonius who allegedly lived in the second half of the first century after Jesus.

    The parallels between Jesus' story, as recounted in the Gospels, and that of Apollonius, in the writings about him, are many. These include, allegedly, a miracle birth, performing miracles, gaining followers, and becoming divine.

    Mr. Ehrman explains that 'divinity' of a human was something believed in by most first century pagans, Followers of Jesus, and even Jews ...despite the monotheism of both the latter two groups.

    The author goes on to review that, from his point of view, Jesus never calls himself God except in the Book of John. He correctly points out that book was written about 50 years after Jesus' death and Jesus does not call himself God in any of the earlier-written Gospels.

    Mr. Ehrman challenges the Divinity of Jesus most strongly by deconstructing the resurrection of our Master and discounting its credibility because of the lack of historical evidence for it.

    As the author may never have believed, faith for a true Jesus Follower, if not cultural christians, trumps the lack of historical evidence. This fact the New Covenant says from beginning to end.

    And without faith, no one can please God (Hebrews 11:1 & 6)!

    Blessings all!

    GaryFPatton

    (2014.04.28 © gfp '42™)

    Blessings all!

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