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The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 5th Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 112 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199757534
ISBN-10: 0199757534
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"The overall quality of this text is far superior to others of the same genre on the market today. Its biggest advantage is its readability. Bart Ehrman has done a masterful job at developing what at times are the most arcane issues of early Christian textual studies in such an inviting and clear manner that he's able to not only keep students' interest, but also present the arguments in a clear, concise, and highly logical manner. Of special interest are the boxes, which have provided some of the best discussions for my students."--George Heyman, St. Bernard's School of Theology andMinistry


"Outstanding. This is the only book that students have told me they like."--Kenneth Atkinson, University of Northern Iowa


"From cover to cover, this book is packed with rich information. It's also a strength that Ehrman chooses a different methodological approach for each of the gospels as an illustration of the variety of ways that scholars can read a text. I have used this book for a long time and will continue to do so indefinitely."--Zeba A. Crook, Carleton University


"The text makes a special effort to acquaint students with recent developments in New Testament scholarship and offers responsible appraisals of scholarly opinions. I like very much the 'What to Expect' and 'At a Glance' features, which must be a great help to students in grasping major points."--Bradley Nystrom, California State University, Sacramento


"The presentation, especially the many boxes and the glossary of terms, is wonderful for students to grasp the vast project that any introduction to the New Testament entails. The book's pedagogical devices are generally outstanding and extremely helpful to students."--Robert A. Ludwig, LoyolaUniversity Chicago


"I especially like the approach of introducing critical methods for reading the Bible by demonstrating various methods along the way, reinforcing and reviewing by returning to a few methods in different chapters."--Janet E

About the Author


Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has published numerous books and articles, including The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations (OUP, 2011); A Brief Introduction to the New Testament, Second Edition (OUP, 2010); and Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (OUP, 2005).
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 5 edition (July 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199757534
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199757534
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (112 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,753 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Bart Ehrman's 'The New Testament' is a superb work for teachers seeking to assign their students a readable, reliable, and challenging introduction to the history of earliest Christianity and its literature. Incidentally, it would also be a fine first stop for intelligent readers who want to know what historians of early Christianity are saying about the birth of this religion and the origins of the New Testament. The work is engagingly written, with an occasional and not inappropriate first-person, and it has the merit of representing balanced, critical positions in the much debated-territory of New Testament studies. Ehrman's disinclination to accept a variety of trendy and dubious by-ways in New Testamental studies can be seen in his treatment of three areas. First, while not neglecting the Greco-Roman context, he positions Jesus squarely in the Jewish context and sees him as an apocalyptic teaching bent on internal reform of Judaism. Miracles are part of the picture, as they were for other charismatic Jewish teachers of the time (cf. the work of Geza Vermes). Ehrman declines to follow the scholars who with zeal and imagination claim to sort out editorial levels (and the communities or theological trajectories) in the hypothetical 'Q' document ('Q' = German 'Quelle' or 'source', i.e., the hypothetical sayings source lying behind the commonalities in Matthew and Luke and not in Mark). Thirdly in this regard, Ehrman refuses the common move of positing the existence of gnostic Christianity (or any 'gnosticism) prior to the first hard evidence for it in the late first or early second century. So this is a book that you can trust to pass on the generally accepted theories and to reject the more speculative moves of the field.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
In my view, Bart Ehrman writes with more clarity and strength than any other New Testament scholar. I have heard him speak, listened to his tapes and read his books. He exudes competency, frequently reminding us that his conclusions are those of a historian - then spends a little time explaining what that means. In the case of "The New Testament," it means he will examine authorship issues, content and revelancy of the various gospels, letters and apocolypses - inside or outside of the canon - differently than they might be examined from the pulpit. For example, issues of dogma are extensively discussed, but not endorsed nor advocated. Instead, they are examined for consistency within the whole context of the other books and the political setting in which the early church solidified its views. As a matter of fact, he is so non-committal it is impossible to tell exactly where he stands - although it is obvious he takes a liberal stance of some sort.

I had more than my share of fundamentalist preaching, yet values at home were those of inquiry and evidence toward the world in general. Ehrman's approach is more to my liking than reiteration of a dogma I've already heard, documented by passages from scripture pre-selected to prove a certain view. He compares the gospels, discusses the nuances of their differing themes and considers their probable authorship. The letters are treated similarly and the book of Revelations is subjected to a fascinating analysis. Consider the New Testament subjected to the kind of scrutiny one of Shakespeare's plays might receive from a college professor of western world literature - in which speculation is kept to a minimum and explanation is made as to the historical context of the story.
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Format: Paperback
This book is well written and closely argued, but as an introduction to the subject matter it fails on at least one important level: Unlike, say, John Drane's "Introduction to the New Testament" or Raymond Brown's more detailed overview from the Catholic perspective, Ehrman does not introduce us to a representative sample of scholarly thought. Instead it mainly argues the case for Ehrman's own position, and in the process it takes for granted certain assumptions that are more widely contested than he seems willing to admit. In other words, there is a tendency to cite opinions that other equally reputable scholars would contest as though they were established fact.
Another difficulty with using this book as an introduction to the subject is that Ehrman does not give the reader enough assistance in investigating his influences and antecedents. He makes some quite radical assertions (e.g. challenging the traditional view that the oral traditions of pre-literate societies tend to be transmitted reliably) without the conventional footnotes quoting authorities and sources. Apart from some general further reading suggestions at the end of chapters, Ehrman's assertions along the lines that "recent research has shown" or "it is now accepted" have to be taken on his say-so alone.
Actually, Ehrman's antecedents are fairly obvious to anyone who has read theology - he continues the tradition of 19th century liberals like Wrede (and their 20th century disciples like Bultmann) who drew a sharp distinction between (i) the Jesus of history and (ii) the Christ of the Church's faith, and assumes that the Bible can only inform us about the latter.
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