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How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee Audible – Unabridged

4.2 out of 5 stars 425 customer reviews

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By John W. Loftus VINE VOICE on March 26, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In this book Bart Ehrman attempts to provide the theological road-map whereby Jesus started out as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet and ended up having the high Christology of the historic Nicaea Creed (solidified by the Council of Constantinople in 381). As a historian he does not believe Jesus was God in any sense, or that he arose from the dead. He's merely being a historian telling us what he thinks is more probable than not.

In Ehrman's previous works he has argued that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who predicted the end of the known world and the coming of the Son of Man in his generation who would subsequently rule over the re-created world. Most scholars seem to agree with Ehrman, but others disagree with this view of Jesus, most notably Geza Vermes, Burton Mack, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, Stephen Patterson, Bruce Chilton, John P. Meier, Gerd Thiessen, Elisabeth Fiorenza, S. G. F. Brandon, Morton Smith, Reza Aslan, along with mythicist scholars Richard Carrier and Robert M. Price. Some of these different views of Jesus would require a different road-map to get to the high Christology of the fourth century, especially the mythicist view. So from the very beginning as we travel this map there are these obstacles.

Passing over those disagreements though, Ehrman's map seems to me to be a fairly standard mainline one which I've read in other works. Michael Coogan, John Collins and Paula Fredriksen probably agree with Ehrman since they wrote blurbs for it. Robert Funk, the founder of the Jesus Seminar, in the last chapter of his book "Honest to Jesus," says some of the same things.

Regardless, I'm very glad Ehrman wrote it. It's written so that the general populace can understand it. He has a way of communicating these ideas very well.
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Format: Hardcover
This work is beyond fantastic!

Not only does Bart deliver a tight and well-reasoned argument for when, how, and why Jesus came to be thought of as divine by his earliest followers, he does so in a way that is deeply sympathetic to Christianity and believers alike. While Bart candidly discloses his own disbelief in the divinity of Jesus and the general Christian position, he constantly engages the reader/listener (Audible) with his own ongoing development since his early days as a fundamentalist believer, often with honest and incisive self-reflections as to how he continues to refine his position with different approaches to the evidence.

And yet—even given this apparently unbridgeable chasm between Bart and the Christian faithful—his love for the subject, period, and texts shines through without a doubt. I often read comments directed at Bart by Christian believers to the effect of, "Why do you spend so much time studying Christianity and teaching about it if you *hate* it so much?" Or, "If you're an agnostic, then why do you waste your time debating about Jesus?"

While these kind of questions and comments betray a total lack of intellectual rigor, they all rest on a fundamental misconception: that you're unable to love a subject and yet disagree with central tenets of that subject as it is commonly understood. It's clear that Bart unabashedly loves the intricacies of how and why Christianity came to dominate the West, and his labor in the area has helped to illuminate much of this material for us, his popular audience.

And here's the real genius of this book: this book presents the culmination and epitome of Bart's scholarly career in the context of THE CENTRAL QUESTION of the Western world.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm thankful we have Ehrman. I don't know of any bible scholar who is more humble, polite and patient in putting forth his views, who takes more time and patience than Ehrman to offer a perspective on a question. This book is a joy to read. I'm finding one brilliant insight after another. ------ Ehrman does a marvelous job of bridging the gap between the popular reader (people like me who study on their own) and the latest thinking of the finest biblical scholars (skeptics and believers) in the academic world --- as he offers his own informed and documented findings and opinions. Just a wonderful book. ----- Years ago I read a great deal of skeptical biblical scholarship that disappointed and offended me. Some of it came across as pompous, some of it snide, much of it unsound, and a lot of it came across as fanciful and utterly uncontrolled, filled with alternative "theories" about Jesus, the gospels, the origins of Christianity, etc. It really was some of the poorest scholarship I'd ever read in any field. ----- But Ehrman's scholarship simply doesn't fall into that category. He does not run rampant with wild speculation. He talks about the text, the text, always the text and what the text is telling us, and what kind of problems and questions we face when -- say-- the text of Paul offers one point of view on the nature of Jesus and the text of the Fourth Gospel offers another. But I'm just scratching the surface here with this example. I'm trying to describe why I trust Ehrman on this topic, and why I look forward to his books, and why my personal experience as a reader with this book is so pleasurable. Ehrman is an honest scholar, an ethical and careful scholar, and I recommend this book highly to everyone. It has much to offer the believer and the skeptic, much to offer anyone who is obsessed with the mysteries surrounding Jesus Christ as I am. It's a terrific book!
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