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How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman Paperback – March 25, 2014

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How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman + How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee + Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
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Editorial Reviews

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In 2014, well-known author of biblical exegesis, Bart D. Ehrman published How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. In it, he posits that the concept of Jesus as God evolved over time. Five biblical scholars gather here to refute that theory. Although it’s preferable to have read Ehrman’s book before tackling this one, the authors do a relatively even-handed job of stating Ehrman’s case before attempting to demolish it. The topics they discuss include divinization in the ancient world, the Christological claims of the synoptic Gospels, and burial practices at the time of Jesus’ death (even those sympathetic to Ehrman’s case would probably agree that his discussion of the empty tomb contains too much conjecture.) This book, while putting forth arguments well worth examining, is weakened by the fact it contains five voices, and dry, scholarly ones at that. Ehrman has mastered the art of writing in a style suitable for general audiences, making his book more accessible. Still, the two deserve consideration together, and the publisher of this volume has cleverly used a cover image in the same style and color as Ehrman’s book, which may help lead interested readers in the right direction. --Ilene Cooper

Review

'This is a helpful collection of essays by first-rate scholars abreast of the latest research. Anyone who wants a reliable historical account of how early Christians came to see Jesus as God should read this book.' -- Richard Bauckham, , Emeritus Professor of New Testament, University of St Andrews, UK|'This set of studies comprise a readable and lively response to Ehrman's book on how Jesus came to be regarded as in some sense divine. Collectively, they identify controversial issues and offer cogently put alternative views that deserve to be noted and that show that the scholarly discussion remains in play.' -- Larry Hurtado, , Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology, University of Edinburgh

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Zondervan; 1st edition (March 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0310519594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0310519591
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #109,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Nojnag Otsch on June 15, 2015
Format: Paperback
This book was written as a response to Bart Ehrman’s ‘How Jesus Became God’, which was printed almost the same time. It is not surprising that evangelicals scholars would react this way; however, the arguments from Bird et al are not as convincing as they claimed. It is obvious that their objective was to counteract Ehrman’s arguments at every corner; however, the mission was set to fail because they missed the point of Ehrman’s book.

While Ehrman generated many arguments from historical, cultural, and religious evidences that counteracting the concept of Jesus as divine at the beginning of the first century CE, he has clarified his position as a historian, rather than a theologian. That is, he examined the divinity of Jesus from a historical perspective. However, Bird et al rebutted from theological rationale, which evidently could not meet the argument trek of Ehrman. It seems that Bird et al were too eager to correct the theology of the opponent and overlooked the argument objective. This is perhaps a scholar’s blind spot.

The arguments of Bird et al, though seem logical and sound, they fail to provide concrete textual, historical, and archaeological evidences to disprove Ehrman’s points. Even the renowned scholar Craig Evans failed to provide solid evidences to rebut against the arguments regarding the burial, to name one example. He has quoted the same source Ehrman used pertaining to the Roman’s permission to bury the dead, but he also mentioned the exception to forbid burying the dead. It is therefore a perspectival reading of the sources. That is, Ehrman and Evans were generalizing the practice of burial in Roman era, and thus neither was wrong.
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187 of 241 people found the following review helpful By Joelice on April 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I wasn't expecting this to be a great "response" due to two facts: their authors wrote this book in a short time span and the inclination of the authors to do a "theology" instead of "history." More thant a "response," this was an "alternative" view presented by these authors to lay people and believers alike who feel "threatened" by Ehrman's new book. Sometimes the tone of some authors is very irreverent, ad hominem and childish. It seems that they are too offended by some "heresies" of Ehrman's book that they feel justified to use non-academic and derrogatory language in some instances.

Most of the articles were a disappointment. The best article, in my view, was that from Craig Evans "Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right." That was really a great response, using all data available. Doing a fast review of each article:

1. The Story of Jesus as the Story of God; Michael F. Bird: Weak
2. Of Gods, Angels, and Men; Michael F. Bird: More or less good.
3. Did Jesus Think He was God? Michael F. Bird: Really weak
4. Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right; Craig A. Evans: The best one, superb
5. What Did the First Christians Think about Jesus? Simon Gathercole: Garbage
6. Problems with Ehrman’s Interpretative Categories; Chris Tilling: Garbage, possibly the worst one, boring and constantly trying to avoid to response to the point directly.
7. Misreading Paul’s Christology: Problems with Ehrman’s Exegesis; Chris Tilling: Weak, too much theology instead of responding to Ehrman's main argument.
8. An Exclusive Religion: Orthodoxy and Heresy, Inclusion and Exclusion; Charles E. Hill: More or less good, but fails to respond the main issue.
9.
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40 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin A. Simpson VINE VOICE on July 15, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Bart Ehrman is a boogeyman some evangelicals like to hate. Ehrman consistently takes positions that undercut Christian orthodoxy, and his scholarly positions often lead you to believe that most of what you have heard in sermons and all of what you have heard in Sunday School is erroneous. That is where he believes the evidence leads, and like any scholar, he wants to convince his students.

That said, it is unfair to Ehrman and his scholarship to dismiss him out of hand or make him a heel. He is a human being, a hard working scholar, and an engaging communicator. This is why each time Ehrman publishes a book like his last release, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, evangelical scholars respond in print or in lectures. He deserves to be answered fairly and with good scholarship.

In How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart Ehrman, Michael F. Bird, Craig A. Evans, Simon J. Gathercole, Charles E. Hill, and Chris Tilling respond to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God. On short notice, this team of scholars offered their rebuttals to Ehrman's presentation of the historical Jesus. Their work offers an apologetic, or defense of Christian doctrine. And I think it is well done.

I am not current enough in New Testament history to provide a wholesale evaluation of the arguments of Bird, Evans, Gathercole, Hill, and Tilling in this volume, but I am familiar enough with the biblical material and a broad enough range of scholarly research on the New Testament to approve and recommend this collection of essays. How God Became Jesus addresses the key questions raised by Ehrman concerning first century Jewish cosmology, Jesus' self-perception (Did Jesus understand himself to be God?
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