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Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth Hardcover – March 20, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“His newest book has turned some of his perennial critics into fans, at least temporarily. In Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, Ehrman decimates the persistent arguments of those who not only deny the divinity of Jesus but insist that no such man ever even existed.” (Christian Science Monitor)

From the Back Cover

Large numbers of atheists, humanists, and conspiracy theorists are raising one of the most pressing questions in the history of religion: "Did Jesus exist at all?" Was he invented out of whole cloth for nefarious purposes by those seeking to control the masses? Or was Jesus such a shadowy figure—far removed from any credible historical evidence—that he bears no meaningful resemblance to the person described in the Bible?

In Did Jesus Exist? historian and Bible expert Bart Ehrman confronts these questions, vigorously defends the historicity of Jesus, and provides a compelling portrait of the man from Nazareth. The Jesus you discover here may not be the Jesus you had hoped to meet—but he did exist, whether we like it or not.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st Printing edition (March 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062204602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062204608
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (248 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,639 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

556 of 688 people found the following review helpful By Roberto Perez-Franco on April 6, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
(Review for MIT's The Tech) - Back in November 2009, I reviewed a book by Earl Doherty, Jesus: Neither God nor Man, which discusses at length his theory about the origins of early Christianity without invoking a historical Jesus. After calling Doherty's theory marginally superior to the predominant view, the atheist philosopher Richard Carrier stated in his review of Doherty's work that "the tables have turned." A refutation to Doherty's theory, Carrier said, would require developing a single, coherent theory in favor of Jesus' historicity that can explain all the evidence at least as well as Doherty's. With funding from both atheists and believers, Carrier himself has taken on the question formally, and his work will soon be published in two volumes.

But he's not the only one who's been busy after the publication of Doherty's work. Bart D. Ehrman, a highly respected New Testament scholar, has taken on the challenge of defending the mainstream view on the historical Jesus from the seditious attacks from "mythicists," new and old. In his new book, Did Jesus Exist?, Ehrman sets out to provide that single, coherent theory in favor of Jesus' historicity. Which he does, with less than spectacular results.

Ehrman opens his argument by claiming that the question of Jesus' historicity is all but settled from the start, since to his knowledge no serious scholar -- now or in the past -- has ever doubted the existence of the historical Jesus. By serious scholar, Ehrman means one holding a PhD (exit Doherty) and currently tenured in the field of New Testament studies (exit Carrier). The only bona fide exception Ehrman allows seems to be Robert Price (The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, 2003).
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249 of 309 people found the following review helpful By Saganite VINE VOICE on March 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bart Ehrman would really rather be writing on a different topic, he tells us. But the popularity of Jesus "mythicism" among the agnostics and humanists with whom he generally makes common cause motivated him to speak up. Mythicism is the hypothesis of some that the New Testament material is strictly fictional with no core historical character around which (perhaps) legendary elements accrued. Jesus, in other words, was made up out of whole cloth, and any effort to find an historical Jesus is doomed because no such actual figure ever existed. As Ehrman shows, the "case" for this position, such as it is, generally consists of the negative (demonstrating that much of the New Testament was written anonymously or was even forged; pointing out historical absurdities; identifying contradictions in and between the texts; stating that little to no extra-biblical references to Jesus can be found until several decades after his death, etc.) and the positive case, which consists primarily of comparing elements of the Gospels and Apostolic traditions to elements from pagan mystery religions and other potential sources (e.g., a dying and rising savior god-man such as Osiris).

Ehrman largely agrees with the key points of the negative case. There really are things in the New Testament that are fatal to a modern-day conservative fundamentalist understanding of the New Testament as inerrant, for example, including a host of contradictions (Ehrman invites us to compare, for example, the nativity narratives and the crucifixion timelines and casts of characters for fairly obvious examples). But none of that, Ehrman says, acts to gainsay the existence of an actual historical person at the hearts of the stories, and the evidence FOR such a figure is overwhelming.
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220 of 274 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not pretending to be an expert on this subject, but it does interest me and I do know something about it. I have an undergraduate degree in history and Latin and I read a a little Greek. I have also read numerous books on the subject of the historical Jesus. That includes both sides of the issue. After reading some of these reviews, I am astounded and how little the naysayers understand about historical method, not to mention how historians determine what really happened in the past. Jesus lived 2000 years ago, he was a peasant who was of little interest to anyone of importance at the time.He did not become famous until after his death. Yet people are so surprised that he did not write anything or that the historians of the time did not take notice of him. Come on, he was one of many apocalyptic teacher of the time and it is not surprising that he did not attract attention outside of the immediate area. In short, he was not the type of person that writers of the time cared about.Add to this that he and his followers were likely illiterate or semi literate and it is to be expected that they didn't write anything.

Dr. Ehrman explains this very well. He gives the sources which mention Jesus and there are many. He discusses the Josephus passages and gives both sides. He discussed the errors, misinterpretations and outright falsehoods of the mythicists and quite correctly says almost no one with degrees in relevant subjects doubts the existence of an historical Jesus. Of course experts can be wrong, but when it comes down to it would you rather listen to an historian who specializes in the ancient world on this subject or a geologist, a German professor or a self published author who can't even get basic myths straight?
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