"How Jesus Became God" by Bart D. Ehrman. Photo courtesy of HarperOne

“How Jesus Became God” by Bart D. Ehrman. Photo courtesy of HarperOne


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

(RNS) Set side by side, the book jackets look almost like matching woodblock prints of a bearded, haloed figure. The titles mirror each other, too, featuring the same trio of names: Jesus, God, Bart Ehrman.

On one of the volumes, “How Jesus Became God,” Ehrman is clearly the author; but in the reversed “How God Became Jesus,” Ehrman is the nemesis of a concerted rebuttal.

So what gives?

The two books are an unusual publishing experiment, in which HarperCollins subsidiaries arranged to have a team of evangelical scholars write a counterargument to the hot-selling superstar writer. Ehrman and the evangelical team exchanged manuscripts and signed nondisclosure agreements so as not to pre-empt each other, but otherwise worked independently for their own HarperCollins imprints, HarperOne and Zondervan.

“I’ve never heard of anything quite like this,” said one of the evangelical authors, Craig Evans, a New Testament scholar at Acadia Divinity College in Nova Scotia. “The usual scenario is that a dubious or extreme book comes out, then a ‘correction’ appears one to two years later.”

The collaboration speaks to Ehrman’s marquee attraction — his last five books for HarperOne have sold a combined 750,000 copies — and to the expectation that his newest title will receive widespread attention. Ehrman is a former Christian fundamentalist who spurned his faith and has devoted his academic career to debunking long-held assumptions of traditional Christian belief, making him a persona non grata for some Christians and an object of fascination for others.

"How God Became Jesus", a response to Bart D. Ehrman. Photo courtesy of Zondervan

“How God Became Jesus”, a response to Bart D. Ehrman. Photo courtesy of Zondervan


This image is available for Web and print publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

“His standing is such that, whether you agree with him or not, you have to come to terms with his scholarship,” said Roger Freet, executive editor of HarperOne. “This book in particular goes to the most fundamental question of the Christian faith.”

Ehrman makes the provocative assertion that Jesus did not consider himself divine but was deified by his followers, and that early believers scattered clues about their all-too-human mythmaking throughout the New Testament.

Ehrman sets out to pinpoint when the process of deification took place in different Christian communities. He contends that early Christians had conflicting views of Jesus’ divinity, none of which would pass the exacting salvation standard of the Middle Ages.

“I’ve never, ever written a book that, in my opinion, is as important as this one, since the historical issues are of immense, almost incalculable importance,” Ehrman said. “The assertion that Jesus is God is arguably the single most important development in Western civilization.”

Word of the book’s imminent publication has already mobilized evangelical bloggers and commentators. Even before Ehrman’s book was issued Tuesday (March 25), Texas minister Mike Robinson rushed out his own, unauthorized counterattack: “How Jesus Became God in the Flesh: The Proper Exaltation of a Jewish Prophet from Nazareth; Bart Ehrman Refuted.”

Ehrman, a New Testament professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said “How Jesus Became God” is unlike any other book he’s written for a lay audience. In his other nonscholarly books, Ehrman repackaged the academic research of other scholars in an accessible format.

Bart Ehrman, Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Bart Ehrman, author of “How Jesus Became God.” Photo courtesy of Dan Sears/University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2012

But while working on this book, Ehrman arrived at a dramatic about-face on fundamental issues relating to the Christian religion. Ehrman had previously assumed that the deification of Jesus did not take place until some six decades after his Crucifixion, around the years 90 or 95.

Ehrman now acknowledges that Jesus’ followers — the inner circle who knew him personally — came to believe he was divine almost immediately after they became convinced of his Resurrection, a historical revision that moves up the timeline by several generations.

“This wasn’t just a kind of mind game, trying to figure out ideas of theology — it had much broader implications,” Ehrman said. “Among other things, it affected not only their worship but also their civic lives, since they were insisting that it was Jesus, not the Roman emperor, who was the Son of God. This did not put them in good stead with their pagan friends, families and neighbors, not to mention the ruling authorities.”

Consequently, Ehrman had to reassess his understanding of the Gospel authors and now acknowledges they, too, considered Jesus to be divine. He now thinks the writer of Mark’s Gospel believed God glorified Jesus at his baptism. Meanwhile, the Gospel writers of Matthew and Luke thought Jesus was born divine.

Ehrman sees the Gospel of John, which traces the divine origins of Jesus all the way back to the beginning of creation, as belonging to a category unto itself. In this Gospel, Jesus makes overt and explicit statements about his own divinity.

When it comes to John’s Gospel, Ehrman and some of his evangelical critics agree: The fourth Gospel should be understood as a theological treatise and an imaginative re-enactment, not an eyewitness account containing verbatim quotes.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for Ehrman was that Paul, the earliest New Testament author, had a very exalted view of Jesus, believing that Jesus existed in divine form before he was incarnate as a human being. Ehrman concludes that Paul must have believed Jesus was an angel who became human and afterward was exalted to godhood. “Before that,” Ehrman said, “I couldn’t figure Paul out.”

The evangelical scholars say Ehrman still hasn’t figured Paul out, but they are pleased to know that the professor is making progress.

Ehrman laughs off the suggestion that his views are surreptitiously aligning with the beliefs of his evangelical adversaries. He lauds his five sparring partners as first-rate scholars but points out an unbridgeable chasm: As an agnostic and a scholar, Ehrman remains convinced that Jesus never taught that he was divine, only that he was a messiah; the object of worship for Jesus was always God the Father, not Jesus the Son.

To the quintet of evangelicals, Ehrman is prone to profound confusion, botched readings and scholarly fictions.

They insist that Jesus’ divinity was no mere afterthought but the essence of his message. His divine nature was signaled through miracles, forgiveness of sins and biblical allusions that point to Jesus exercising the prerogatives of Israel’s God and meriting worship, they say.

“Bart clearly fudged the evidence, omitting several relevant pieces of evidence and then misinterpreting other pieces,” Evans said. “In short, (we) had the opportunity to set the record straight — at the same time that Bart’s book makes its appearance.”

YS/MG END MURAWSKI

55 Comments

    • There is that Fundamentalist scholarship we keep hearing about. The book may say things that don’t make me feel important and self-righteous. It must be burned!

          • Fundamentalist scholarship is one of those things people talk about but never actually see. Like Bigfoot and Creation Science.

            The whole point of Fundamentalism is to largely cut off avenues of inquiry and discussion on a subject in favor of an authoritarian view. Not so much resembling scholarship as it is enforcing a line of thought which brooks no discussion or reflection.

    • Frank, has it occurred to you that these kinds of conversations aren’t always for the purpose of a right or wrong, black or white outcome? If you had been living before Galileo, the received wisdom of that day, fully embraced by all religious authorities, was that the sun revolved around the earth. I have read one of Dr. Ehrman’s books. He is not a “fool”. Be careful about calling others “fool”, says the Old Testament, because you put yourself at risk of hell-fire based on the hubris your attitude displays. That sounds pretty serious to me.

    • We should listen to him because he is a scholar who has devoted his life to studying the origins of the new testament, he reads and understands many ancient languages that the bibilcal texts were written in including Greek, Syriac, Coptic, Aramaic, Latin, German, and others. He originally was an evangelical, studied at Moody Bible Institute, and knows all the Evangelical dogma, and rationalizations. He lays out very logical explanations, explanations that make more sense than the carp I was taught when I was a teenager in The Consertive Baptist Conference. I used to bring up questions in bible study but they never wanted to them, or they would give their standard weird rationalizations that just didn’t make sense. So yes, Bart Ehrman has answered many questions that this logical thinker always pondered but were never satified by the Dogma. SInce you ask the question, you seem to believe God “inpired” the writing of the bible. So how do you respond to the fact that in Matthew, Jesus dies on the day of Passover and in John he explicity dies the day before? (Ehrman points this out in several of his books)

  1. Ehrman still has it wrong. Mark didn’t believe God “glorified Jesus” at his baptism. Mark believed God glorified Israel at the Exodus. Jesus is a symbol of salvation and the story of Jesus is a myth about the history of salvation.
    http://www.freepublicitygroup.com/release_sid_martin_author_jesus_myth_.html

    • Ehrman has gotten things wrong for a long time now. I’m just glad to see Christian scholars continuing to rise up and confront his anti-Biblical errors.

      • Charles Freeman

        “Christian scholars”? Sort of a contradiction. Christianity has been defended from logical and factual standpoints, but always rests upon faith in personal experience with visions, the bible, and interpretation.

    • Charles Freeman

      Gee, Sid, Mark has communicated with you, right? Otherwise, I and most others reasonable people would have to say that you were providing irrational interpretations. Faith stems from personal experience, according to William Craig Lane, and not rational treatment of empirical data. Are you among the irrational faithful?

    • As usual, mythicists cite dubious evidence in favor of their credo. Mr. Martin is a theologian writing on history. A theologian claiming the abundant evidencee stablishing Jesus existence is
      some sort of isunderstanding by those who hold degrees in the relevant areas.

    • You need to find in the OT alone why Jesus was required to come – the while story is there if you lust for truth and have equity.

      Isaiah 54.5 For thy Maker is thine husband; יהוה of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The Elohim of the whole earth shall he be called.

  2. Susan Humphreys

    By rejecting God doesn’t mean Ehrman has rejected wisdom. In fact he has shown that he rejects what men say about God and about Jesus AND has embraced wisdom. But I will wait and read both books and then make up my own mind about who is truthful and who isn’t!

    • I am both a fan of Ehrman, and a critic. I respect your opinion, but I would challenge the idea that one party or the other is being truthful or not. Both Ehrman and the Evangelical group of scholars are reconstructing the evidence as best they can, and both of them have different presuppositions that color how they view the evidence. I have seen Ehrman demonstrate time and time again that he is committed to a faithful reading of the text in line with the original author’s intent. A good case-in-point is that, as the above article makes clear, Ehrman found that he was forced to acknowledge that the Biblical authors from a very early time understood Jesus to be divine. That is not something a dishonest agnostic man with a grudge against Christianity would do. I agree that both books are worth checking out. Kudos to HarperCollins for trying something this innovative!

  3. Susan Humphreys

    Oh one more thing IF the arguments for Jesus/ divinity rest on “His divine nature was signaled through miracles, forgiveness of sins and biblical allusions that point to Jesus exercising the prerogatives of Israel’s God and meriting worship.” as the one guy says then I think I will be voting for Ehrman!

    • Perhaps it would be well to point out that in the Old Testament dispensation of immanence, only three classes of humans received the “infilling presence and power” of the Holy Spirit: Prophets, priests and kings. When Jesus arose from the waters of Baptism, and the dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit, rested upon him, according to the NT accounts, could that not have meant that he received not one dispensation, but three: prophet, priest and king?

      Bart Ehrman’s personal journey does not strike me as having been anything like enviable. He has suffered, and he appears to still be suffering. But Jung went through similar sufferings on his way to his mature sense of self and reality. The uncertainties and discomforts of the spiritual journey have affected all serious seekers, from the Buddha to Jesus to who-knows-who (an echo of Santana?).

      My personal faith position is that neither the other scholars, nor Ehrman have arrived at anything like “ultimate Truth”. It’s a journey. Let us trust God to see how He chooses to manifest the greater ecstasies of communion with Him in this regard. This is not something to start choosing sides over.

    • Arguments have been made that, with the creation of the cosmos God also created natural law — to which he bound himself. This would not affect omnipotence because it would be self-constraint, however it does not support the notion of divine intervention.

  4. Jesus never claimed to be God the Father. He said he did nothing of his own originality he only did his father’s will. He worshipped God and claimed to be the Son of God, having a pre-human existence. The trinity is not a Bible teaching.

    • Gary Douglas Davidson

      In referring to his ultimate identity, Jesus mostly gave the title of the Son of Man, at least according to the accounts given in the Gospels. Matthew opens with a genealogy from Abraham to David to who? Answer: Joseph the husband of Mary. Jewish genealogy is traced paternally. Through the prophets of Jewish Scripture, God promised to Israel a new king from David’s seed, or the House of David, meaning a male descendant of David. Jesus would have to have been biological son of his father Joseph in order to fulfill the prophecy. It appears to me that he was.

  5. Nobody argues about Zeus, Jupiter or Aphrodite anymore.
    Imagine this title you will never see in a bookstore,”Osiris, The One True God?”

    Who would care? Once a story is deemed a ‘myth’ it begins to fade.

    These are the last days of the Jesus books and Erhman is not only a great scholar but the leader of this genre.

    Someday people will look back and wonder how so many people could have bee duped by the Jesus story. And Erhman will be the one offering insight into that question.

    Today’s Christians should try to enjoy it more. They will be the last of the true believers.

    • I have read several of Dr. Erhman’s books and listened to his New Testament
      lecture series with The Teaching Company. He is a first rate New Testament scholar who represents the majority view in scholarship. He looks at the origins of the Jesus movement, 1st century Palestine, from a historical context not a devotional one. People can believe whatever they want. But history does not affirm Jesus divinity according to the vast majority of scholars. Read Reza Aslan’s excellent book Zealot (and watch the silly Fox News interview as the interviewer exposes her ignorance). It is true that some Christian biblical scholars somehow manage to reconcile their faith with scholarship. But that just speaks to the vice-like grip that religion has over many people’s lives–including some scholars.

      • Marius Potgieter

        SC, your statement “He is a first rate New Testament scholar who represents the majority view in scholarship” refers. The “majority view”? Really? Do you have any credible source to substantiate that?
        Granted, Bart is certainly a very gifted scholar, but his main characteristic in this context is rather that he is an agnostic. When you assert that Bart represents the “majority view in scholarship”, it sounds like you are saying ‘when you have a tooth-ache, you should consult the opinion of a carpenter or an electrician to find out what the best cure will be’! All of Bart’s work is about how he personally chooses to interpret historic evidence. He very obviously looks at a given faith-claim and then paints a “scholarly picture” of all possible theoretical interpretations – mostly opposing what is in fact believed by Christians. Have you noticed how well books containing highly contentious claims are selling? Bart is certainly a very good economist – as HarperOne confirms and capitalizes on. John Murawski (the author of this article) says “Ehrman is a former Christian fundamentalist ….” Is John claiming that ‘therefore, Ehrman knows what he is talking about’? I don’t know if that is what John meant (I have some doubts about that), but I would rather side with Os Guinness when he said “Christianity is like a river that is a mile wide, but only an inch deep”. Fundamentalists and literalists should probably be blamed for the bad press that Christianity often gets. No wonder Bart “lost his faith” – he did not have solid reasons for defending it to start off with. My most important concern about Bart Ehrman’s writings is that he sometimes refer to himself as having been a “born-again Christian” before he “lost (his) faith” – a total contradiction in terms!

        • MP, it’s very easy to oppose Christian beliefs because they are simply not supported by the historical record or scientific advances! Witness the delusional Ken Ham who just debated Bill Nye. Try as he might to invent arguments and “pseudo science” to support his biblical views, he was simply swimming against the current of established scientific fact.
          Most scholars accept the bible as a devotional document not as a historically accurate one. It offers an interesting portrait of the early Christian movement–extraordinary claims and all. None of these supernatural claims and supposed miracles documented in the bible however were documented outside of the Christian community. And we have volumes of non-Christian historical writings from 1st century Palestine! You would think this guy Jesus would have made some of the local papers. But none, zilch! By the way, one can be a born-again Christian and then lose their faith. That is not a contradiction in terms. The reason Bart “lost his faith”is because as a biblical scholar, he studied the bible–really studied it, cross-referenced it, identified its inconsistencies, its forgeries, its later inclusions, etc. He read the bible critically and it didn’t hold up. It’s that simple.
          There are obviously many people that accept the bible story and accept what their pastor tells them at church on Sunday. They accept this story without applying the same rational and critical thinking they use in other areas of their lives. Some people may derive comfort and strength from their faith but it doesn’t make it true. The bible was written by early Christians for the early Christian community not for 21st century man. Our world is amazing and mysterious enough. We learn new and exciting things about the cosmos and our origins every day. And though we will never know everything, that’s OK. We can continue learning with an open mind. The biblical story is a beautifully packaged, wrapped in a bow, world view that no longer holds water. And that’s OK too. We will do just fine without it.
          .

          • SC,

            Christians have a track record that’s pretty dismal of holding more than 1 train of tho’t in our heads about what’s true. Consider the book of Revelation: there are 4 widely-accepted views about it in conservative, pious circles. (See “Revelation: 4 views” by Steve V. Gregg for a book-length piece on this.)

            It once was true that elemental piety FORCED the pious to demonize any view but 1, mine. But you’re too smart for this. My suggestion to you is to read widely. It is no longer true that Christians can be painted with one brush.

        • @MARIUS,

          You said, “No wonder Bart lost his faith – he did not have solid reasons for defending it to start off with.”

          Christians seem convinced that any new information must be off-limits. How dare anyone change their minds?

          Before a suicide bomber blows up a bunch of people in the name of Allah – don’t you wish they would reconsider?

          Faith is not a way to learn anything. It is a shut off valve.

        • SC is correct. Ehrman is a “first rate New Testament scholar who represents the majority view in scholarship”. Perhaps SC might have said that Ehrman is a first rate *secular* NT historian, but I suspect you would be unable to understand the nuance. Ehrman would certainly have been welcomed in the NT/Church History Departments of the seminary from which I graduated.

          As to whether a “born-again Christian” can lose his faith and still have been a born again Christian — it is not a contradiction in terms. It is merely a reiteration of the fallacious “not a True Scot” argument.

        • Linda (Swanepoel) Malinowski

          Marius, are you related to Evert Potgieter and Laetitia Laan? I’m trying to get in touch with them. Please ask them to email me at linda.malinowski@gmail.com
          Kind regards
          Linda (Swanepoel) Malinowski

  6. To clarify, Bart Ehrman didn’t set out on a quest to debunk the bible after he lost his faith. Ehrman was already a biblical scholar when he was still a Christian and he lost his faith because of the problem of evil argument. Ehrman’s scholarship is separate from his agnosticism.

  7. Bart Ehrman is a rare bird. He sells himself (correctly) as an iconoclast in the field of New Testament studies. Yet, at the same time, he essentially holds onto his the right-of-center theoretical presuppositions arrived at during his younger years.

    In my opinion Ehrman deserves much credit. He’s a very talented writer,lecturer and television interviewee. He’s accomplished a great deal for the average Jane and Joe by pulling back the curtains of the largely arcane discipline of scriptural research and interpretation. The evidence suggests he deeply cares about his audience of nonprofessionals.

    We do well, however, to bear in mind that Ehrman is not a theologian (nor a philosopher or historian of religion). All his analysis of “The Good Book” depends upon old-line churchly hypothesises. He’s deeply conservatives in ways rarely observed–let alone dissected.

    As many will know, while an adolescent Ehrman became a born-again Christian, joining a number of ultra-orthodox youth groups. He received his advanced education at fundamentalist and traditionalist schools (namely the Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College and Princeton Theological Seminary). He remains indebted to the sternly orthodox scriptural mastermind Bruce Manning Metzger.

    Against the backdrop of the Deep South’s opposition to the changes of any sort on religious matters (as an prominent educator at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Ehrman began to challenge conventional views about the Bible. He did this primarily through New York bestsellers and public debates with hidebound believers.

    Though convincing on many points and decently admirably throughout, his writings and discussions reveal scant knowledge of the epistemological, anthropological, historical and metaphysical suppositions upon which his arguments often depend.

    For example, unlike a great number of exegetes, Ehrman continues to describe Jesus almost exclusively in terms of end-time apocalypticism. Likewise, he arrived at a form agnosticism not by way of scriptural study but implicitly in opposition to Leibnitz’s doctrine.
    The Whiteadian and Hartshornian ontologies that take issue with Leibnitz’s theory appear to be unknown to him.

    In fact Ehrman evidences virtually no understanding of psychology, cosmology, aesthetics, axiology, etc. all of which have a direct bearing on the question of evil and divine omnipotence. His agnosticism does not engage Hindu, Cynic, Neo-Platonic, Scholastic,
    Marxist, German Idealist, Existentialist, Wittgensteinian Languate or Postmodernist (both the deconstructivist and constructivist varieties) forms of thought. He seems to take for granted that the Book of Job offers the final and best (though ultimately flimsy) response to the issues taken on by theodicy.

    Ehrham offers oodles of highly readable and provocative introductions to canonical and extra-canonical New Testament questions. But his line of reasoning is profoundly problematic since it supposes that the doctrine of Incarnation can be taken up without in-depth the post-temple and gentile world of the Roman Empire. Unless he better addresses such questions like “what did ‘divine’ mean? “how could Godness and Humanness be understood as overlapping?” his most recent contribution to popular studies in religion raises more conundrums not less.

    • @Rev. Doran,
      You say Ehrman bases his agnosticism on a lack of understandings…”psychology, cosmology, aesthetics, axiology, etc”

      But this isn’t true.
      Ehrman understands that the biblical claims don’t work. There is no intercession by God to alleviate any evils. An understanding of cosmology is not going to change that.

      The science you seem to not be understanding is evolution.
      Evolution explains everything we need to know about why people do what we do.

      Revelation on the other hand, is clearly a kind of groping in the dark – an ancient method of creating answers out of superstitious nonsense.

      • Rev., I believe Dr. Ehrman’s line of reasoning for making a case against Jesus divinity to be quite sound, logical and highly researched. On what evidence do you base your assertion that Dr. Ehrman does not posses an understanding of “psychology, cosmology, aesthetics, axiology, etc.?” Are you implying that he is not able to formulate a rational, well reasoned opinion regarding the question of evil and divine omnipotence? You are correct however in referencing Ehrman’s description of Jesus as a 1st century apocalyptic preacher. Again, his arguments in favor of this position are quite sound and researched. You are incorrect however in assuming that his agnosticism was not arrived at by way of scriptural study. Dr. Ehrman has described his arrival at agnosticism as a slow process through the course of study. A process in which he sincerely tried to verify his long-held faith but encountered more and more problems to substantiate it. In depth analysis of the bible by scholars like Dr. Ehrman reveal major concerns with the veracity of the text that cannot be ignored. I guess at some point, blind faith just didn’t work for him.

  8. Charles Freeman

    Bart Ehrman does not try to establish the case for the divinity of Jesus, nor does he address the question of the existence of god. What he says is that Jesus divinity was being put forward, in the words of the new testament, long before Ehrman previously had thought it was. This is something like Charlie’s issue of the length of a unicorn horn, the ultimate outcome of which could make the “divinity of Jesus” argument mute. As a discussion in religous history, this is an interesting read. As a discussion of the validity of the divinity of Jesus, it is inane and irrelevant.

  9. Hello.

    In Was Jesus just your average Joe? , I argued it is pretty unlikely
    that Jesus was just an ordinary man on the grounds of the extreme
    dissimilarity between the conviction of His first disciples and the very
    high Christology one can find only one or two generations later.

    There needs to be something special about him.

    Ehrmann now thinks that extremely powerful and wonderful hallucinations do the job.
    Well I doubt it.
    Why did not the disciples of all other failed Messiah
    developed similar hallucinations and draw similar conclusions?
    Ehrmann has to postulate that this occurred by sheer chance
    to the early disciples but not to the other Messianic sects.

    I think that if you really want a naturalistic explanation, this should look like this:

    1) the body of Jesus disappeared in some way from a known tomb
    2) A group of female followers found the empty grave and were stunned
    3) as a consequence of this discovery the disciples
    got so excited that they began to have all sorts of visionary experiences
    4) this in turn led them to view Christ as a divine being

    I am currently trying to develop a (frequentist) probabilistic way to explore historical issues which avoids the pitfalls of the Bayesianism of folks such as Richard Carrier and allows the existence of unknown probabilities.

    Cheers from Europe.

    • Your argument assumes that the stories were not legends to begin with.
      And most of the Jesus story is clearly legend and wishful thinking.
      Worse, none of the miracles prove that the nonsense attributed to him is remotely true:

      “bring to me those enemies of mine who would not have me as their King, and execute them in front of me.” – Jesus (19:27)

      Even if Jesus rose from the dead (there is no reason to believe it) that wouldn’t mean his statements were TRUE or that his defense of slavery was a good thing.

      Legends are built on conflations of simple folk stories.

  10. “Why did not the disciples of all other failed Messiah developed similar hallucinations and draw similar conclusions?”

    Lack of a gentile Greco-Roman fanbase to take the teachings out of backwater Judea and into the civilized, literate Roman Empire proper. Jesus had a good PR team.

    One has to bear in mind Judea was more important to the Romans for its geography than anything else they got from it. It was the buffer between the Persian Empire (who thrashed Rome mightily ever time they invaded) and their own. The locals were constantly rebellious. It was overshadowed by more prosperous and advanced Phoenician, Syrian and Egyptian provinces.

    Nobody from Rome ie the center of the civilized world at the time generally cared what a bunch of desert dwelling goatherds were saying about their one singular boring God. That is, when those locals weren’t brandishing swords.

    But then a bunch of talkative Greeks and Romans started to make noise about this teacher who ran afoul with local authorities. The stories spread. Next thing you know Jesus makes that cross-over from local idiosyncratic teacher to religious phenomena.

  11. A church in my town (Hendersonville, NC) had Ehrman in for a lecture series, for which it sold tickets. A friend asked me if I was going and I said no. I had come from a similar background and as a university professor I was able to divest myself of fundamentalism without throwing out my evangelical faith. Why should I pay good money to listen to his academic B.S. when no one would pay to hear me talk about my own Christian experience (I would not have charged admission.) I would say the guy has a good racket going, even though he does not say very much that hasn’t been said umpteen times before.

    • They said Zeus was dead, but I still believed.

      These anti-Zeus people think they have a good racket going
      and they think they are opening up people’s minds, saving people from wasting their lives on delusions – they say Gods like Zeus don’t really exist!

      They say Zeus is just a metaphor. HA! baloney! – the joke is on them!

      Someday Zeus will throw lightening on them and kill them – and THEN THEY’LL UNDERSTAND!!!

      I’ll spend my life waiting and you’ll see…. You’ll see….You’ll see..

      • Atheist Max, I like your style…
        Tricky, you are correct that Ehrman’s positions and insight are a compilation of previous scholarship. But it’s not B.S. And please don’t take offense to this, but you’re no Bart Ehrman.

  12. Bart is correct….jesus was a man the messiah in the ot to come was to be a man….god did not come to earth thru mary’s birth canal as his own son on a suicide mission…..jews/muslims are true monotheistic religions pauline christianity is not

  13. Ive read almost all of Barts books. Ive bought all of his Great Courses DVDs also. Its my belief that he presents his findings in a logical and fair manner. In my early years when I went to church the pastors would do their preaching but omit these findings that Bart presents. I believe that religious leaders, preachers etc should tell us when there are dubious or unproved parts of the bible. I actually went through many years believing Jesus was a sort of god because thats what the church leaders wanted me to believe. Now in the last twenty years or so I can believe in one god only, not Jesus as a god also. I must say that I believe Jesus was a very good man in a similar vein as Martin Luther King Jr. But I would never put MLK as a god either.

  1. […] Set side by side, the book jackets look almost like matching woodblock prints of a bearded, haloed figure. The titles mirror each other, too, featuring the same trio of names: Jesus, God, Bart Ehrman. On one of the volumes, “How Jesus Became God,” Ehrman is clearly the author; but in the reversed “How God Became Jesus,” Ehrman is the nemesis of a concerted rebuttal. So what gives? [Read more] […]

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