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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beginning Point for Discussion, Not an Exhaustive Tome
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...
Published 5 months ago by Benjamin A. Simpson

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141 of 188 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed-bag
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...
Published 8 months ago by Joelice


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141 of 188 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed-bag, April 17, 2014
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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. Paradox Pushers and Persecutors?; Charles E. Hill: Really bad
10. Concluding Thoughts; Michael F. Bird: Nothing new that haven't been said in the book.

I only recommend this book if you are willing to have a more "objective" reading of Ehrman's new book and if you are a believer. In my view, the book fails to do a "response" to each argument presented by Ehrman. Maybe here and there there are personal opinions of Bart, but his main arguments still stands: there was a theological and Christological development in Christianity about Jesus before being considered to be the "second person of the trinity and equal to God". How exactly this occurred is still debatable, but it is a fact.
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20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Beginning Point for Discussion, Not an Exhaustive Tome, July 15, 2014
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?), the evidence pertaining to Jesus' burial, the beliefs of the first Christ-followers, problematic elements within Ehrman's interpretive categories and his exegesis of Scripture, and the implications for our understanding of the formation of a bounded, exclusive community centered on Christ (as well as the emergence of heterodox groups).

This book is a helpful companion to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God for those seeking to evaluate his arguments, or for those seeking to become conversant with Ehrman from an evangelical perspective.

I heard Bart Ehrman speak in Lawrence, Kansas several years ago, right after his publication of God's Problem, an examination of Job and what theologians call theodicy. He's engaging, a good storyteller, witty, and clear. I am also familiar with his written works. I happen to disagree with him. Often.

I disagree with Ehrman not only because I am Christian who believes the historic teachings concerning the incarnation, the resurrection of Jesus, the inspiration and authority of Scripture, and other core doctrines are reliable and true. I also disagree with Ehrman because I find his arguments unconvincing and his methodology suspect. Whenever I have read Ehrman's works or listened to his presentations, I have thought something is amiss. Admittedly, I have also had a very different existential experience concerning God--I am a Christian. Ehrman is an agnostic. Of course we will disagree.

Scholarly fads come and go. Whenever a book is published claiming a new or never-before-told version of the life of Jesus, or a supposedly revelatory account of the ancient evidence that undercuts established orthodoxy, it will receive buzz. These books will be placed on end caps in every bookstore. They will sell. People enjoy controversy, and gravitate toward conspiracy theories.

In those instances, it will be up to responsible Christian scholars, and responsible Christians, to listen to the arguments, examine the evidence, and offer a measured, accurate, and winsome response. How God Became Jesus assists those who wish to offer an evangelical perspective on the historical Jesus, and to do so as respectfully as possible.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a good read for pastors and students in seminary, November 17, 2014
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This review is from: How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman (Paperback)
This is a good read for pastors and students in seminary. Each of the five scholars tackle the most important points in Bart Ehrman's recent book, "How Jesus Became God." In a nutshell, Michael Bird argues that Jesus did believe he was God. Craig Evans demonstrates that Jesus was buried and not left to scavenging animals, according to archeological evidence. Simon Gathercole makes a theological case for the preexistence of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospel accounts. Chris Tilling portrays Jesus as possessing the same transcendent uniqueness of the one God of Israel. And Andrew Hill shows that the early church fathers such as Tertullian were not rewriting history that was different from the biblical authors.

These statements, of course, are the opposite of what Bart Ehrman wrote in his book. Craig Evans wrote an outstanding chapter on burial traditions that alone is worth the price of the book. With reliable sources cited and photographic evidence, Evans eliminates Bart Ehrman's proposition that Jesus was probably not taken down from the cross and buried. Craig Evans shows with high probability that Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimathea's tomb and not left to scavengers. If true, then we have the necessary conditions to ask the question of why the tomb was empty. This is a good book to read even if you have not read Bart Ehrmans book. I recommend it if you are in seminary.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice rebuttal, September 4, 2014
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This book was a nice rebuttal to Mr.Ehrman's views on the New Testament and the growth of the early church. It was nice to hear both points of view.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, December 27, 2014
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This review is from: How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman (Paperback)
Not finished yet, but Ehrman is so far unscathed.
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Should be better, June 5, 2014
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This review is from: How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman (Paperback)
If we consider the credentials of the authors, there is no doubt that the quality of the arguments the reader expects is more than what was been shown in the book. Think they could have opposed Bart Ehrman in a more profound and contundent manner.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Inside Theological Baseball, June 10, 2014
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Needs to be read with "How Jesus Became God..." in order to make sense. Trouble is, between the two books, this looks less like scholarship and more like WWI trench warfare between two sides with strong grenade-throwing arms. On both sides, belief tends to trump history. But both sides make relevant points.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Was Jesus born divine?, July 28, 2014
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It is a very interesting analysis and critique of the book "How Jesus became God". It is a collection of articles by specialists in The New Testament which give different perspectives on what is considered the writers of the New Testament intended to convey and what the followers of Jesus thought about him: was he divine in essence from the beginning of time or did he became divine during his life time?
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent retort, November 15, 2014
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Mark Adams (Redwood Estates, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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Frankly, the essays are very compelling, making it a striking companion for Ehrman's own book, which this one counters. How God Became Jesus offers data which Ehrman overlooks (or ignores) and is less speculative.
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12 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Informative and Well Executed Rebuttal to Ehrman, May 9, 2014
This review is from: How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman (Paperback)
Immediately after reading Dr. Erhman's "How Jesus Became God" I read the semi-companion response book written by five Christian scholars. In summation it soundly bests Ehrman's thesis on the development of Christology but the book has a few minor issues of its own that could have improved it.

I will actually begin by noting a few of the book's weaker points:

1. Although he is an entertaining and very articulate writer, Michael Bird probably takes his humor a little far for the taste of many readers. This might alienate some readers who initially disagree with his viewpoints and keep them from seeing his otherwise well-defended and articulated case in Chapters 2-3. For the record I usually enjoyed Bird's humor but even I found it going beyond necessary at times in an otherwise very serious book. Interestingly Michael Bird has an unusual background for a lecturer and writer in theology. He grew up in a non-religious home (I take it in Australia) and served as a paratrooper. This and his presumably younger age may influence his often sardonic nature of writing. He will relate very well to some readers and probably turn others off. I should note that I recently read a very satirical/sardonic blog post by Bird responding to very conservative writers who have recently been criticizing Bird and several notable Conservative Biblical Scholars as being too liberal. Now that is irony and demonstrates that Bird displays sarcasm to his opposition on both the right and the left of theology.
2. A comment made by Bird concerning double dissimilarity might go too far in critiquing the tool; in terms of allowing texts it may have a use from what I have previously read. The real issue at hand is when typically liberal scholars use it to exclude teachings of Jesus in which case the tool is highly illogical. That may have been what Bird was actually meaning to say but I read it more as throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
3. "How God Became Jesus" has an excellent citation section with annotated notes; the annotations in particular I found superior in use than to what Ehrman used at the end of his own book. The problem though is that this book does not have a subject index that would make looking up particular points easier for the readers needing to reread a section. To me this is the singular biggest weakness of an otherwise well-written work.
4. Although not absolutely necessary, having a couple of additional chapters may have benefitted the book. One chapter could have specifically argued for the preservation of eyewitness testimony particularly in John (perhaps someone such as Dr. Witherington or Dr. Bauckham might have been useful here) and a chapter dealing with philosophical apologetics relating to supernatural truth claims in the context of history/comparative religions. These topics would have merely been icing on the cake for me so to speak. I think the authors did a resounding job as is refuting Ehrman's primary thesis.

Strenghts/Summary:

Chapters 2-3 by Michael Bird deal with ancient definitions of divinity and Jesus's self-understanding respectively. I found these to be well argued with abundant historical, scriptural, and cultural support. Bird forcefully argues against parallels between Christ and angelic beings and that Ehrman misses the mark concerning Jewish beliefs regarding Divinity. Secondly, the weight of evidence taken together illustrates that Jesus's self-understanding placed him in a uniquely divine position with God the Father. Bird is a gifted writer and is very knowledgeable about his subjects although as noted previously his humor is probably distracting from an otherwise very serious case.

Chapter 4 by Craig Evans provides a very well researched discussion of the historical probability that Jesus was buried and the tomb was found empty. This chapter is actually fairly close to one I had read by Evans in a book he coauthored with N.T. Wright although it seems that he has expanded his materials with new archaeological discoveries and argumentation. Particularly interesting to me is that it appears we may have more archaeological evidence for crucifixion and burial of victims than was previously thought.

Cambridge University lecturer Simon Gathercole delivers a very competent and well reasoned/supposed discussion on Early Christian views of Jesus in Chapter 5. In particular he discussed that an exaltation view of Jesus's mission actually goes along with belief in a preexistent Savior rather than as two opposed strains of early Christian though. Gathercole makes his case through the Synoptics and Paul's writings to highlight serious problems in Ehrman's analysis in "How Jesus became God" . the end result offers a more evidentially reasonable and compelling view of exaltation compared to Ehrman's thesis (I briefly summarized that thesis in my previous review of Ehrman's book).

Chris Tilling authors chapters 6-7. The former is a discussion of problems with Ehrman's overarching categories of interpretation. Chapter 7 provides a more detailed rebuttal of Ehrman's view of Paul. Both are well written and argued chapters. The second in particular finishes nicely with a strongly worded rejection of Ehrman's view.

Chapter 8 by New Testament Professor Charles Hill covers the struggle between heresy and orthodoxy in the centuries leading up to Nicea. I highly recommend this chapter with its responses to Ehrman's view of history and assertions regarding certain heretical groups.

Chapter 9 deals with the doctrinal concepts relating to paradox and critiques Ehrman's wording choices. An epilogue to the chapter deals (successfully in my view) with Ehrman's own discussion of Jewish-Christian relations in the post-Nicea Roman era.

Michael Bird authors Chapter 1 (the introduction) and Chapter 10 (Conclusion).

As stated previously the book has a very nice annotated Endnote section but regretfully does not include a subject-page index for easy reference. I highly recommend this book for those who have read Ehrman's "How Jesus Became God". Although not perfect "How God Became Jesus" is a very informative rebuttal of its semi-companion and is very readable in its own right.
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How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus' Divine Nature---A Response to Bart D. Ehrman
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