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53 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Getting to Know the New Testament with clarity, March 31, 2003
This review is from: The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Paperback)
What does Jesus mean to you and why is it important to you as a human being living 2000 years after the death of Jesus? Why is Jesus viewed and interpreted by scholars in so many different ways? How do the four Gospels of the New Testament explain the life and mysteries of Jesus as a man, prophet, messiah and divine being? These and a host of questions of this nature are clearly explained by Professor Bart D. Ehrman in his excellent book, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. This is a thorough examination of the New Testament. Although the title suggests a "historical introduction", it's that and much more.
Too often, scholars tend to express historical events in high brow theoretical frameworks and confusing, elaborate paradigms. As a student or just someone who may be interested in learning about the New Testament, you're presented with a lucid, terse and imaginative outline on the New Testament reading Professor Ehrman's book. All 29 chapters are presented coherently with logical historical descriptions and analysis that clearly explains every facet of what it means to analyze a complex and controversial subject.
It was such a pleasure to read through the material with ease, comfort and with clear explanations. Professor Ehrman carefully walks you step by step through non-canonical and canonical sources for the "creation" of the New Testament. In addition, you're given the ideas behind each gospel and what the "author" of each gospel portrayed using a variety of historical methodologies. You're given a succinct groundwork to help you understand how you get from point A to point B of each gospel and their connections. There are no quantum jumps in theoretical ideas to confuse the reader.
I have thoroughly read 13 other books on the "Historical Jesus" and reviewed 43 other ones. Professor Ehrman's book is by far the best ever written on the subject. Although the book is used as a text book for the Historical Jesus and the New Testament for undergraduate students, it could easily be read as a book on it's own. You learn not only the history of Jesus; from varying sources, but you get in depth lessons on ancient history which connects everything together so well.
I would highly recommend this book over Professors E.P. Sanders', The Historical Figure of Jesus (Penguin Books, 1993), which I feel is an excellent book on the same subject.
The price of the book is worth every penny. You will never read the four Gospels the same way after reading Professor Ehrman's tremendous book. This book along with his other book, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Oxford University Press, 1999) can only help the reader to clearly understand the Historical Jesus from so many perspectives with clarity beyond imagination. Any reader who does NOT enjoy this book and/or comes away with a better understanding of this subject has not read other convoluted books on this subject.
The reader would do well to go through the four gospels first (a few times) before reading Professor Ehrman's book so that you can appreciate his analysis as he quotes verses from scriptures in each gospel.
The cliché, "read any good books lately?" certainly applies to this book.
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