- 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: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,133 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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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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
'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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Top Customer Reviews
I bought the book and have read most of it by now. I will probably get the copy by Ehrman from the library. I have the feeling that we are seeing the 21st century version of some sort of traveling road show, with Ehrman (the liberal or agnostic renegade) pitted against some fairly well-versed evangelical scholars. The line of point-counterpoint books just keep on coming. At some point, people may weary of the trend. But it does allow anyone who wants it the chance to explore different perspectives and varying theological points at the popular level.
My position on anything of this sort is to consult the authors' sources -- their footnotes and/or bibliography -- and read some or all of their sources (depending on interest and time) to see if you agree with the sources. This will also deepen your knowledge of a subject so that you know a bit more than just the he said--he said aspect of the issue. The book does have great endnotes, and I heartily recommend them for all readers.
The book is not too long -- for those who might be intimidated by such a thing (205 pages), the typeface not too small, or the general "look" of it too academic for those of us who are not academics. The chapter titles give a good idea of subject matter ("What Did the First Christians Think About Jesus?"), and they deliver on that promise.
The content of these chapters will give the reader a fair overview of the subject and how the author feels the topic (e.g., "Problems with Ehrman's Interpretive Categories") relates or refutes Ehrman's position. Some subjects will interest more than others. I found the various excursuses (excursi? excurses?) on second and third century evidence for Jesus as God to be quite helpful, and a real challenge to those who think, generally, that Jesus became God with Constantine, or some other version of that story.
I also especially liked the excursus on "Kings, Angels, and Holy Men."
And P.S., I said a challenge. When I read Ehrman, maybe he will enlighten me further about the moment when Jesus became God..
But I am not counting on it. I read Misquoting Jesus by Ehrman a few years back -- and have heard him speak many times and read other works of his. He is a riveting speaker, quite talented. He possesses the ability to take dry and academic concepts and put them into every-day language. Whether he does justice to the material in doing that -- well, that is why reading endnotes and checking other books is crucial for anyone who wishes to really know the subject -- and not just go on the internet and blow hard.
I then read Fabricating Jesus, the rebuttal book to Misquoting Jesus, done by Craig Evans ( who has the chapter "Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right" in this book). Before I read Misquoting and Fabricating, I had spent several years researching some of those same issues for myself. I had just returned to Christianity, and I wanted to figure out where I stood on issues of the biblical text. I encountered Ehrman early on, with some Teaching Company lectures on the New Testament, and was massively impressed by him-- until I read a book by a woman theologian (Gillingham) who essentially showed me (without meaning to) that you can do anything with statistics -- or other pieces of information -- and that Ehrman had done that with some aspects of the Teaching Company lectures.
Thus, when it came time to Misquoting and Fabricating, I already was in agreement with Evans' analysis. I suspect that my opinions of the current scholarly matchup fall in line the same way. The chapter by Evans in this book is high quality. I did think there were parts of the book that I preferred over others. It may depend a lot on what aspect of the issue most interests me at the moment. If I come back to it in a year, or if I come back to it after reading Ehrman, I might find some other chapters that suddenly leap out at me.
Yes, Mr. Bird's style is flippant and he tries to be amusing. That is not too usual for someone who expects, or prefers, an academic tone. For example: "Ehrman's view of Jesus is low, so low in fact that it could possibly win a limbo contest against a leprachaun" (p. 11).But he makes some good points while he is at it. The only problem is that after you have read something by him, then you flip over to Chris Tilling or Charles Hill or Simon Gathercole or Evans. They write in less exuberant styles. But Bird is the general editor of the book. He got to do things the way he wanted to do things.
This work by Michael F. Bird, et al provides a solid theological counter balance to Bart D. Ehrman's work "How Jesus Became God". Ehrman claims to be looking at the topic from an historical point of view, but Bird et al ably critique his view of the history of the topic.