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Product DescriptionThe New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades laterJesus, Paul, Matthew, and John all represented fundamentally different religionsEstablished Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity—were the inventions of still later theologians
Picking up where Bible expert Bart Ehrman's New York Times bestseller Misquoting Jesus left off, Jesus, Interrupted addresses the larger issue of what the New Testament actually teaches—and it's not what most people think. Here Ehrman reveals what scholars have unearthed:
- The authors of the New Testament have diverging views about who Jesus was and how salvation works
These are not idiosyncratic perspectives of just one modern scholar. As Ehrman skillfully demonstrates, they have been the standard and widespread views of critical scholars across a full spectrum of denominations and traditions. Why is it most people have never heard such things? This is the book that pastors, educators, and anyone interested in the Bible have been waiting for—a clear and compelling account of the central challenges we face when attempting to reconstruct the life and message of Jesus.
- Arrogance Interrupted
This book is well written and it shows a respect for the lay people and the college students that the author is addressing. The author also demonstrates a deep knowledge of the early Christian literature both within the New Testament and the literature written in the years after the New Testament. The author does not want to destroy faith (so he says), but wants people to believe in God and Jesus without becoming biblical literalists. He wants you to see that the Bible is a book about flawed people written by flawed people, and therefore, the book itself is flawed. This is also an implicit indictment on those naughty preachers who have hidden from their congregations the truth about all the hidden contradictions in the Bible.
But maybe ministers are withholding this information not because they are trying to protect their jobs, but because they reject what Ehrman is saying.
I would say that about 90% of the alleged contradictions that Ehrman raises are examples where Ehrman misunderstands the text or examples where there is a rush to judgment. For example, it is true that the nativity stories in Luke 2 and Matthew 2 are quite different. But Matthew 2:1ff indicates that the events recorded take place some time AFTER the birth of Christ, that is months or even a year after the events in Luke 2.
Also, Ehrman wants to say that Matthew's upholding of the law in Matthew 5 contradicts Paul's repudiation of the law in Romans and Galatians. But Ehrman drops the ball again: Matthew and Paul both agree that the law of Moses has a place in the life of the church today - compare Matthew 5:17-18 with Romans 3:31. What Paul is stressing in a different context is that the law itself cannot save you because a. we are fallen sinners and b. the law is an impossibly high standard for fallen sinners. Jesus says the same thing in Matthew 5:48 in effect when he says you have to be perfect just like God. It's hyperbole!
Jesus says the same thing in the story of the rich young man in Matthew 19. He says "if you want to be perfect, sell everything you have. If you want to be saved by observing the law, give the poor man everything you have, then come follow me." The rich man couldn't do it. Jesus goes on to say that with man salvation is impossible, but it is possible with God. Matthew and Paul are in agreement, and Ehrman is wrong again!
Ehrman trots out some of the more well worn examples of possible discrepancies. I'll briefly mention what I think are the toughest ones to resolve. The differing genealogies in Matthew 1 and Luke 3 are not meant to be exhaustive in content but theological in purpose. Matthew's genealogy shows the Davidic and Abrahamic ancestry of Christ, the genealogy in Luke shows the Adamic ancestry of Christ.
The conflicting traditions of Judas' death in Matthew 27 and Acts 1 are problematic but not hopelessly contradictory. They both emphasize that Judas took his own life, which is the important thing. Matthew says he hung himself, Peter in the book of Acts says he fell. Peter may be recounting what he had heard at the time about Judas' death (which Luke faithfully records even though the church would find out later that the dude actually hung himself). In other words, the Bible isn't contradicting itself. Luke is just telling us what Peter said on that particular day.
Or it's possible that both accounts are true. Judas hung himself, and then he fell (the branch broke).
Another alleged discrepancy is that John has the cleansing of the temple at the beginning of Christ's ministry, and Matthew, Mark and Luke have it at the end. But John never says that he is writing a strict chronological retelling of the life of Christ. That's what Luke is, and John is not reinventing the wheel. John is making a theological statement: Putting the cleansing first prepares us for the conflicts with authority that lie ahead: Christ's ministry is in part a passing of judgment upon the institutions of Judaism.
This also explains why the death of Christ in John happens at the time the passover lambs were being sacrificed. John is emphasizing that Jesus Christ Himself is the paschal Lamb of God (this is one area where I actually agree with Ehrman).
Ehrman makes three huge mistakes in this book that a tenured New Testament professor ought not to make: Number one: He assumes that 21st century standards of history writing must also be the first century standards of history writing, and this is far from certain, and scholars such as Ben Witherington and Duane Watson and Craig Keener have made this very clear.
Number two: Bart Ehrman doesn't dialogue with any active scholars from within the biblical studies guild. It's almost like Ehrman made up his mind in 1985 that he doesn't need to read any more books, that he knows everything that he needs to know. The truth is that great strides have been made in biblical studies over the past 25 years, and many of the alleged discrepancies that Ehrman raises have been discussed thoroughly and with greater interpretive skill and savvy than Ehrman shows in this book.
Number three: Ehrman says that we should use the criterion of multiple attestation to determine whether or not something in the Bible is true. If it's in all four gospels, then it is authentic.
But the resurrection is in all four Gospels, and Ehrman rejects it! He contradicts his own hermeneutic. Amazingly, he thinks it's more likely that the disciples hallucinated the whole thing. Unbelievable!
Ehrman also has a chapter about the authorship of the New Testament writings. Ehrman concludes that 19 of the 27 New Testament writings are forged. I don't know how else to say this, but this conclusion is far beyond what most New Testament scholars would be willing to say, even the liberal ones. Saying that the authorship of certain books is unknown is one thing. Calling them outright forgeries is another matter entirely, especially based on the feeble, scanty evidence that Ehrman provides. Some of the NT writings (Matthew, Mark, John, the epistles of John, and Hebrews) do not mention the authors names at all, and how can something be considered forged if we don't know who got forged? Furthermore, the Gospel titles are based on early church tradition. We all know that Matthew didn't writre Matthew. It has been traditionally ascribed to him based on a tradition that the person or persons who put this gospel together used Matthew or his community as a source.
Some of the Pauline writings show signs that perhaps an associate may have assisted with the composition, the Pastoral Epistles show signs of fresh theological and syntactical development, but there's nothing to indicate that there is treachery afoot. This guy's been hanging out with Tom Hanks and Dan Brown a little too long :)
I should say that I enjoyed the chapters where Ehrman discusses the Apocalypse of Peter and the Epistle of Barnabas and III Corinthians and some of the other fascinating books that didn't make it into the Bible.
But basically, this books sounds like sour grapes. The church councils studied many of the things that Ehrman raises, and scholars today continue to study these things, and many of them do not side with Ehrman. Moreover, Ehrman shows a tremendous lack of respect by not even considering their rich insights. Instead, he is in rush to make money and make waves, and make a name for himself. He is a very good writer, but I fear for this man's soul.
As an alternative to this volume, I recommend Ben Witherington's "New Testament Story," or "Dethroning Jesus," by Darrell Bock, or maybe even the classic FF Bruce book "The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?"
Witherington's book "The Paul Quest" provides a tremendous defense the portrait of Paul's life and ministry in Acts. In addition, check out the introduction to his Acts commentary.
- You read it, you drink the coolaid!
Narcissism is alive and well with Mr. Ehrman. He loves to set up "straw men" and knock them down, ignoring all the other mountains of historical data and biblical scholars that contradict his "conclusions". It's easy to write a book like this when you ignore facts that disagree with your view. The only persons who reads this is someone who already has bought into the lie that there is no God. It is so sad to see people deceived by this man. If you want to see Ehrman get hit right between the eyes, read Lee Strobel's book "The Case for the Real Jesus". People with an axe to grind should be ignored, Ehrman writes a worthless book....more info
- More "hidden" contradictions that everyone knows about.
Dr. Ehrman is a brilliant historian who has made some valuable contributions to the field of textual criticism. But, frankly, I'm gradually becoming irritated with his popular level books, whose covers usually read, "revealing the hidden contradictions in the Bible," or, "the story of who changed the Bible and why." Everything Ehrman writes about in Misquoting Jesus and Jesus, Interrupted has been known of for many years now, and it seems disingenuous for him to keep writing books intended for an unknowing public that claim to uncover the "hidden" contradictions in the Bible. For example, one of Ehrman's favorite contradictions to report over the years--and in Jesus, Interrupted as well-- is that John contradicts the other gospels on the time of Jesus' crucifixion.
This is news? This is worthy of a new book? Ehrman's response to this question is that the public has been left in the dark by churches and pastors; therefore, he's going to tell everyone what scholars have known for so long. That would be fine and dandy if he actually reported everything that scholars know, not just what he thinks is worth writing about.
The other issue worth noting is Ehrman's argument against harmonization as a means to explain the contradictions he has so graciously decided to point out to us. According to the good doctor, attempting to harmonize two conflicting texts is problematic because it often results in distorting the real meaning of both texts. While some Christian apologists have crossed this boundary, it's not true of all attempts at harmonization. Ironically, it is this view harmonization that seems to convince Dr. Ehrman that there are contradictions where there aren't any.
The fact is there are rigorous answers to just about everything Dr. Ehrman claims in his new book, and even as a Christian with a limited understanding of New Testament history, textual criticism, etc. I was underwhelmed by what I read.
- Insiteful & lots of examples
I am a big fan of all Mr. Ehrman's books.
In his latest work, he doesn't just tell us there are discrepancies, he walks us through how to find them ourselves.
I am a woman of faith and attend church weekly. Yet, I have been troubled by biblical discrepancies I found over the years.
Mr. Ehrman goes over those discrepancies with us.
Did you know that ALL Theologians study the bible from this perspective when they are in Seminary School?
Mr. Ehrman isn't telling us anything our Ministers didn't already know.
Mr. Ehrman isn't trying to convince us to not be Christians or to walk away from the church or Jesus. He is a college professor that is teaching us with the book, much the same way he would teach a Ministerial Student.
He references other books you may want to consider also. First would be "Misquoting Jesus". This book gives you the background on how the discrepancies came up in the first place.
- Excellent book on early Christianity and the fallibility of the Bible
Before anybody fearing an atheistic attack job turns their nose up at this book, be assured that "Jesus, Interrupted" is not a slam job against Christianity, its followers or the Bible itself.
New Testament expert and professor Bart Ehrman has studied the Bible, particulary the New Testament for most of his adult life and is extremely knowledgable about the subject, having gone to Princeton Seminary and currently teaching at the University of North Carolina.
What Ehrman has been doing in his books meant for the public, as opposed to the collegiate level textbooks he's also written is introducing the Bible through an historical/investigative approach, with an open mind and thirst for as much real truth as can be culled, given the alarming lack of real first hand accounts of the life of Jesus.
We learn immediately that the historical approach differs greatly from the devotional, which maintains the Bible is absolutely without error and is to be taken for its literal word. When the reader delves into the scholastic approach, his or her faith may be shaken and stirred, as we learn that the earliest written text of any of the writings that became the four Gospels was at the least a fourth or fifth generation oral account, the Gospels themselves not written until decades after the death of Jesus. We also read of glaring contradictions, omissions, and blatant forgeries that have made it into the familiar canon churches use today.
The point behind "Jesus, Interrupted" is not to dissuade the reader from his or her faith, but to show that the Bible is a human book, written by humans, and as such, is full of boo-boos. Some leaning toward an agnostic or atheistic point of view may find this book good cannon fodder for their disallusion with Christianity, but ultimately the decision to regard the Bible as perfect, myth, or a handy guidebook for sensible living, provided we remember the context in which much of it was written, for a different time and much different life styles, is up to us as individuals, as the decision to follow any religion should be.
It's a great book, both for the historical introduction to early Christianity, which the lay public doesn't hear much about, and just for those with an interest in theology and no particular religious affliation. Highly recommended....more info
- Nothing New
It's amazing to me how many people find this book so enlightening. The so-called contradictions and problems of the Bible that Ehrman lays out are so "worn out." They are all the same objections made by critics of the Bible for hundreds of years now, and which have all been replied to by numerous Christian authors. Any one who really wants to seek out the truth behind these old criticisms will do so and find Ehrman's book illogical and fails the test of true historical/biblical scholarship. There is nothing new in this book. It's just a rehash of the same old skeptical arguments against the Bible. But, hey, Ehrman is making a lot of money off of old skeptical arguments, right? The dupes here are those who buy this book and become convinced....more info
- my opinion
Erdman gave me many facts I had not previously known and I've read many books on the subject of Christianity, Jesus, the early church and religions of other kinds. Fundamentalists and those who think the Bible was written without error will not like this book since it pokes their sacred ballons. I received an entirely new feeling about how, why and when the Bible was written and for what purpose the authors may have had for writing what they did, not that we know for sure what they wrote since it's been changed, corrected and altered many times, both accidentally and on purpose. I recommend this book to anyone seeking a better grasp of their faith....more info
- Jesus Interrupted
I'm impressed with the scholarship of this book. Yet, it is easy to read and understand. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the Bible. Sure does bust up some myths about how the bible came to be and what it really says. I plan to read more of Bart's books. ...more info
- Another good one from Ehrman
Bart Ehrman has taken me another step in understanding the processes of the early Christians groups as the stories of Jesus spread across the Roman world. As each group developed a theology of who Jesus was and what his message means to them. What I see are people very much like you and me today struggling with these complex questions. ...more info
- Hidden Contradictions Clearly Revealed
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them) In this book, Professor Bart Ehrman explains clearly and concisely his scholarly thoughts about the Bible. He is a well recognized and insightful proponent of the historical-critical method of bilical analysis. As he says, "Some people reading this book may be very uncomfortable with the information it presents. All I ask is that...you approach this information with an open mind and be willing to change if change you must." To be sure, one must keep an open mind! ...more info
- Old Arguments
While certainly scholarly, this is simply a rehashing of supposed contradictions that are meanlingless to the message of Christ and the hard truth of his ministry, miracles, trial, death and resurrection. More importantly, the free gift of salvation, the whole purpose of Jesus on earth amongst us, is not in question. So the book basically nitpicks items are are not in fact contradictions and tries to spin them as they are. How does it affect your salvation because Mark said Jesus said 3 things from the cross and John only reported 2? This is not a contradiction and the author knows it..Don't be fooled. We have more evidence for the verasity of the Gospels than any other body of written literature coming from that age. ...more info
- Conservatives and fundamentalists, can you handle the truth?
Over the past few years, I have really come to respect the writings of Bart Ehrman. Mr. Ehrman is the James A. Gray professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and he has written the New York Times bestsellers. "Misquoting Jesus", and "God's Problem - how the Bible fails to answer our most important question, why we suffer". I am currently completing his recent release "Jesus Interrupted" and have been truly intrigued by the fact that most of these contradictions in the Bible and Bible manuscripts are known by Biblical scholars and yet they are often not taught or purposely ignored within the church. And while on the surface these contradictions may seem minor, they are there nonetheless, and will make you wonder what people mean when they say that the Bible is "inerrant".
I stumbled into the writings of Mr. Ehrman years ago after doing an Amazon search for a totally different book; when I saw the subtitle of his book "God's problem" , I knew I had to read it. It is truly a great book that I wish all preachers and clergy members would read, not only because of his own honesty, but because of the level of scholarly research that was put into it. I have not come to the same conclusion that Mr. Ehrman has come to. I still have faith in Jesus, while he is now an agnostic; He used to be a fundamentalist Christian who went through the whole range of experiences, Bible College, born-again experience, disdain for liberal interpretations of the Bible etc. But upon further scholarly studies, he became an agnostic, mainly because of the problem of pain and suffering. I still do respect his writings, however, because in a time when the Bible has been reduced to a "formula for success", it is refreshing to read a meticulous examination of the fact that the Bible is not a linear book that can be read like you do a well written thriller or math problem. I guess you can say that the reason why I appreciate the writings of Mr. Ehrman is because for too long I have literally felt that I was on the verge of madness for not being able to "obey the Bible" to solve my inner problem of pain and sorrow.
I remember when I first picked up one of Mr. Ehrman's books. I thought that he was some flaming liberal who was trying to discredit the Bible as some form of heresy. I quickly realized that this was not the case at all. If anything, Mr. Ehrman shows more seriousness in exploring the Bible as a true scholar than many people who profess to be "Bible believing born-again Christians" and in many ways this underscores the seriousness of his quest for truth when he was a Christian. I have no doubt in my mind that he once did have a born-again experience, and I have no doubt that he is not joking when he says that the problem of pain left him completely disillusioned. Some of his critics have said that he is writing with an agenda, an agenda to disprove the authenticity of the Scriptures or to nullify the conservative Christian agenda. I don't believe that those who say such things have really read his work. For one, he talks about facts about the Bible, who wrote it, conflicting messages etc that are often uncomfortable amongst devout Christians, because it appears to do so is to question God or the authenticity of the Bible. But if the Bible is the truth, why should we be afraid to put it through the ringer of textual analysis?
Maybe another reason why I also appreciate Mr. Ehrman's writings is because for the past few years I have been going through a spiritual transformation of my own. Some may call it a crisis, but I call it an evolution. I used to easily assume that I had the fundamental answers to most spiritual issues. Having accepted Jesus as my Lord and savior when I was 15, I became dedicated in trying to study the Bible from a devotional standpoint to know His word and know what to do. In so doing I came to certain basic conclusions which I assumed were a given: we suffer because we live in a fallen world, if you want to prosper or be blessed by God, obey the Bible or obey the teachings of Jesus etc. But slowly but surely my life and the deep and intense struggles that I faced, started to poke holes in my assumptions. Holes such as "if we suffer because we live in a fallen world, then why do we tell people that results in their lives are basically based on reaping what they sow? As if to imply that sometimes the wicked don't prosper (and get away with it) and the righteous don't suffer without explanation (one trip to a children's ward of any hospital will humble you)? Why do we tell people that obeying the Bible or the teachings of Jesus is the key to the successful Christian life when this is a literal impossibility, because it begs the question, which teachings? On one hand I can use some verses to justify killing you for disobeying certain parts of the Bible, but then I can turn around and use other verses to justify showing you mercy or grace.
One of the things that I value more than anything else in any writer's work is authenticity, and I can definitely appreciate where Mr. Ehrman is coming from. He is able to break down in layman's terms what those of us who never went to Seminary are curious about and sometimes wish preachers would be a little honest about. Unfortunately, I believe the reason why most preachers cannot talk about some of these issues with this level of frankness is that it may not help to fill the pews, and in the end, that does not really help the Institutional church's bottom line. Maybe that is the main reason why Mr. Ehrman's critics are so furious.......more info
- Jesus, Interpreted by Ehrman
I can't add much to the favorable reviews here, except to say that while Ehrman doesn't present anything new to those who are familiar with critical New Testament scholarship, I found this book quite informative in that the author puts in easily understood terms what many scholars complicate unnecessarily. This is a good book to put in the hands of college and seminary students who are grappling with critical biblical scholarship for the first time. It would also be a good introduction for laypeople who are interested in what their pastors learned in seminary and still aren't telling them. ...more info
- Well-written, but depressing for the evangelical
While not all Protestants are ostensibly like Ehrman's students "who tend to think that the Bible just kind of descended from heaven one day in July, a short time after Jesus died", many adhere to fundamentalist ideas of its inerrancy and holiness. After all, how could God's Word be any other way?
It is indeed interesting how many people say they believe the Bible is God's message yet they know so little about it. That's because it's difficult to read and understand, which according to "Jesus Interrupted" is because it is not one cohesive book written by one cohesive force, but rather by different humans in different times, then hacked on through the ages to promote various agendas. Many have strained for years to reconcile the inconsistencies and contradictions, but one can only bury their head in the sand for so long. If we accept Ehrman's argument, one must logically concur that it is "impossible ... to argue the Bible is a unified whole, inerrant in all its parts."
The presentation of the lack of evidence for traditional beliefs and preponderance of evidence against them is striking. It's a shame that if our church leaders learn these facts in seminary and divinity school, they continue to propagate the myths in the pulpit. Ehrman's "horizontal reading" of the New Testament exposes some major discrepancies. He clearly distinguishes the religion *of* Jesus from the religion *about* Jesus. Jesus' virgin birth, His divinity, the Trinity, and the Resurrection are all implicitly called into question. It's no wonder he has such vociferous critics.
In "Jesus Interrupted", Ehrman fully develops his theme from "Misquoting Jesus". The prose is much more readable and he really becomes the speaker to the layman he has aspired to be. Unfortunately, he leaves the evangelical with a feeling of having been duped for a lifetime.
- If you want a highly detailed review, look here
It has been one of my pet peeves that many Amazon reviews have apparently been written by people who have obviously not read the book. So, in full disclosure, let me tell you I have not read this book-yet.
But, there is an highly detailed (and lengthy) review of the book from Dr. Ben Witherington of Ashbury Theological Seminary. There are two parts:
I would advise anyone reading this book to also read this excellent critique. It will at least give you some balance to a very out of balance work....more info
This is a great read for anyone, believers or non-believers, who has at least some bible knowledge and would like to know more. Especially for those who like to quote biblical references to back up their assertions, the truth about source material might surprise them....more info
- Pretty good summary of New Testament scholarship
Jesus, Interrupted is a pretty good summary of the current state of New Testament scholarship. For an open-minded person, Ehrman presents an understandable overlook of what critical biblical scholars think about how the New Testament came to be, who wrote its various texts, and why. I think it would be very usable in a church book discussion group where you wanted to introduce the basics of the historical critical method. As Ehrman correcly says, this approach to the Bible is still relatively unknown even in more moderate and liberal churches.
If this is already familiar territory for you, it is unlikely you will find much that is new--and that isn't Ehrman's intent. I found him to be pretty middle-of-the-road in most of his opinions. Curiously, he begins one chapter acknowledging there is debate over whether Jesus was a historical person but "of course" that isn't his position. He never says why, however, or addresses that question which is actually becoming increasingly problematic in critical New Testament circles.
For this and some other of his points, I would say that Ehrman occasionally pulls his punches and is in some danger here of himself being behind the curve. My hunch is that this is because his intended audience are those who might be considered moderately conservative and he doesn't want to completely scare them off. Nonetheless, I would have preferred he let his readers know that the level of certainty about many questions of dating, historicity, origins, etc is only moderate, at best, and that the true origins of both the New Testament and the church really are a mystery, hidden in the historical fog of Christianity's first century. Despite that, this book basically accomplishes what it sets out to do and gets my recommendation....more info
Having lived with the Bible my entire life, I thoroughly enjoyed "Jesus, Interrupted."
It is rather sad the Bible wasn't more critically examined during my education.Anybody who reads the Bible notices inconsistancies, if not all the ones listed in the book. The spotlight shines on these and they are examined.
If you believe the Bible is the unerring word of God you will be disheartened.
If you believe in the teachings of Jesus and his inspiration to us in the present day you may well be encouraged. I was.
Anybody who has been raised as a Christian of any denomination, should read this book, if only to substantially increase your knowledge of the Bible, warts and all....more info
- "Jesus Interrupted", A look into, and beyond the Bible
After hearing the author, Bart D. Ehrman, interviewed on public radio, and having been skeptical of the authenticity of the bible's books for years, I couldn't wait to delve into "Jesus Interrupted". A well written and researched work, "Jesus Interrupted" investigates many of the discrepancies that are present in todays "King James" version of the bible. From lost books that were not included to books written years after the events took place, to forgeries that today are accepted as Gospel. This book presents logical, concise and factual evidence that the bible is not the "Word of God" that people now take it for. For those Christians that would call this heresy, the author in no way discounts the bible for what it is. A collection of books and letters, written by man, inspired, but not divinely, by thier faith and belief in a power greater than themselves that, rightly so, is hard to define and explain. If you read "Jesus Interrupted" with an open mind and have a firm hold on your own spirituality, this book will not shake the foundations of your faith. It will however give you some insight into the misconceptions and innaccuracies of man and our attempt's at explaining the who's, when's and why's of our place in this universe and ultimatly our existence. ...more info
- Very informative literary work!
I have just completed Dr. Ehrman's new book and found it to be extremely well researched and written. I thoroughly enjoyed reading his book and, since I'm not a Biblical scholar, learned much from it. My only criticisms are that he sometimes took considerable liberty in drawing conclusions beyond the point that the research spcifically pointed out plus he seemed bothered by the expected criticisms heaped upon him from the evangelical community....more info
- Jesus Interupted
I like history. Ehrman provides in this book a historical look at portions of the New Testament. Which of the gospels agree with one another, and which ones do not. Who actually wrote the New Testament and when. I believe the overall content of the New Testament, but there are problems.
- One-Side of the Story
This book is well-written and easy to read. The author writes in an entertaining and interesting style. While this book lays out apparent contradictions and problems in the Bible, it does so in a one-sided manner as if all the evidence and facts were on one side. The reader would be well-advised to read a book such as the ENCYCLOPEDIA OF BIBLICAL DIFFICULTIES (ISBN 978-0-310-24146-1) to see scholarly counterarguments. The author also fails to inform the reader that the Bible is ancient, near-eastern literature and to apply western historical, linear analysis is to violate the intent of the text. The reality is, the higher critical approach to the Bible tends to be ethnocentric. They apply their standards of historicity to a document with a different standard of historicity. The reader who wants to be able to make an informed opinion and not be indoctrinated should read scholarly works that refute Erhman's arguments and explanations....more info
- A Great Introduction To Biblical Scholarship
An excellent book on the historical aspects of the Bible, its origins, its conflicts within itself, and the problems that arise with Biblical research. For anyone who took historical/critical Bible studies in college, it will go over familiar ground, and he makes no bones about this. But as he points out, while theological schools have critical Bible studies as a part of the regular curriculum, most of this basic research (The Q source, problems of literary consistency in the wiritng suggesting amendments, insertions and questions of authorship, varying and incompatible accounts of the same events in different books, and how the Bible became the Bible in terms of who decided what books to include) are generally unknown to the average church-goer.
Ehrman presents the research and widely accepted scholarship in an accessible, readable format. He simply and clearly lays out the problems, and leaves you to judge what to make of them, although he does give his own reasoned insights into what it all may mean.
In the last two chapters he explores what the knowledge gained from his studies has meant in his own life, and what it should mean to the larger community as well. While very different from the scholarly tone of the rest of the book, they are both a[[ropriate and fascinating chapters, imbued as they are the insight gained from a life spent studying the material.
This book is a great introduction to a fascinating field of historical research....more info
- Biased Personal Opinion, Not Based Upon Historical Fact
Ehrman's newest book is disappointing; lots of personal insights from the author, but little fact to back up these insights. An example: when discussing Christianity's supposed "crimes" against its brother Judaism, Ehrman tries to cast Christianity in the worst light possible, even going so far as to try to defend Hellenic and Roman persecutions of the Jews as something that "they did to everyone" who was not part of their culture. Not only is this blatantly untrue (where is there proof of a parallel to a "Hadrian's Edict" that was enacted against, say, Zoroastrians?), it reveals that Ehrman has his own "Cross to Bear" against Christianity. If you are looking for unbiased scholarship based upon history and fact, look elsewhere. ...more info
- Jesus Interrupted.
This book is a good read for searchers of the truth. Any totally confirmed Christian conservative should avoid this book because it might upset you. If you only use cookbook religion this book is not for you as it teaches about passages in the New Testament that you have been brainwashed to avoid. I believe that this book could be considered heresy to many. This book is a good read for the independent thinker....more info
Very well-written and informative. If more people read this book (and others like it) there would be a revolutionary reassessment of Christianity in this country....more info
- An Important Work
I really enjoyed Ehrman's work in Misquoting Jesus. As a firm believer, I also enjoy engaging in critical thinking. I have often struggled with Bible study and this book helps me to understand that I am not crazy in my questioning. Jesus, Interrupted expounds on the subject of what the New Testament actually is saying or not saying depending on the page you happen to be on. In addition, the scholarship contained within is not just the view of one man but rather a chorus of modern scholars, theologians and learned men.
Some of what the reader will learn - and learn to question - is:
* The different views of Jesus presenting in the NT.
* The many ways of achieving salvation (which one is correct?)
* The forged books of the NT.
* The forged letters of Paul.
* The different theological view of the gospels.
* How the suffering messiah was invented.
* Which book should we believe in determining the divinity of Jesus?
* Where did the trinity come from?
Anyone interested in the Bible should read this book as well as Erhman's other previously mentioned book. Together, they present a compelling account of the construction of our NT and our resulting diverse religious institutions.
Now Erhman needs to get to work on the ancient writings of Judaism and Hinduism. If the relatively "new" New Testament is this messed up, just imagine how convoluted these much older holy scripts must be.
I hope you find this review helpful
Michael L. Gooch - Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today's Business Leaders.
- Learning How to Study the Bible
This is an eye-opening book for Christian church-goers who are used to the devotional study of the Bible, which usually looks at one book or one series of verses at a time. Ehrman introduces the reader to "horizontal" reading of the Bible. For example, the popular view of the crucifixion of Christ is a composite of the accounts in all four gospels which harmonizes the different versions into a devout version that is not found in any gospel. But horizontal reading puts the four crucifixion stories side-by-side so that the differences stand out. What emerges from this method of study is the recognition of outright contradictions in the gospels. When the writings of Paul are placed beside the gospels, it also becomes clear that his views of Jesus are radically different from the gospel writers.
Ehrman points to other contradictions that stand out when considering the history of early Christianity and the development of the New Testament. He tells of the earliest believers in Jesus, the Ebionites, who were part of Judaism and didn't want to separate from it. Ehrman points out the irony that this "original form of the religion came to be cast out and demonized." (p.238) Thus the actual religion of Jesus was rejected as Christianity became a religion about Jesus.
Information in this book is not new, for it has been known for at least the last hundred years and most ministers have learned it in seminary. Now the fruit of scholarly Bible study is available in an easy-to-read, popular account. This book would make an excellent study guide for church groups; the question is whether churches are brave enough to use it.
- Jesus, Interrupted
Bart D. Ehrman's latest venture into historical Christianity succeeds in clarifying information and opinions from previous works (i.e. Lost Christianity's, Misquoting Jesus and God' Problem) while providing some thought provoking "new" facts and ideas. A must read for any practicing Christian, agnostic or atheist....more info
- NT Crash Course or Crash Landing?
I am one of those people who likes all of Ehrman's popular writings and this entry into his library is no exception. One reason that I like his popular writings is that he can take complex ideas and translate them so that it is accessible to the masses. If you were to put this book together with Misquoting Jesus and you basically have a crash-course of a New Testament Intro/Survey Class.
And this is Bart's purpose for writing. He wants to bridge the gap between Biblical academia and the pews. In his purpose he succeeds on a level that I think is unmatched by any other scholar. Is his scholarship debatable? Yes! He even lists critics (including website addresses) of the most respected critics of his previous book. I agree that there is a huge gap between the academic world and the Church world. I also think it is important that people step in to bridge that gap. Ehrman has a way of engaging the reader with sometimes complicated material and helps them to grasp onto these (many times for the audience) new thoughts and ideas. This is not a book that many Sunday School classes would use, so it raises many questions for the average reader about the Bible and perhaps the "faith" they are being sold in their churches.
This brings me to Ehrman's overarching purpose (why he writes what he does), which shows up beautifully in this book. Ehrman not only wants to engage the masses with Biblical scholarship, he has always enjoyed challenging the "inherited faith" of his students and many Christians in general. He believes (and I happen to agree), that a faith that has not been challenged and avoids the intellectual complications and enlightenment that can come from being exposed to Biblical academia, is not an "owned faith". So, on this, Bart succeeds in his book as well! So well in fact, that he gives you tons of information about things that are at odds with each other (or itself) in the Bible, and then leaves you to figure out what to do with it. He gets a lot of heat for doing this (deconstruction with no reconstruction), But I have to respect that he considers his audience to be intelligent people. For Ehrman, the fact that they do not know these things about the Bible has more to do with the teachers and leaders than it does the laity.
Most people know that Ehrman is a self-proclaimed agnostic. This is one reason he receives the amount of criticism he does. However, he does admit that reviewing the discrepancies (most of which he considers inconsequential, but are rarely pointed out anyway) is NOT why he is agnostic. In fact he goes as far as to say that 2 possible reactions that someone could have after initial exposure to these discrepancies is to 1) reject their faith, or 2) climb back into a hole and ignore their existence. He cautions against both of these outcomes and considers them an unhealthy reaction. This helps keep the framework of Bart's purpose intact. You can disagree with his scholarly view, but the challenge from there is to then continue to search and form your own opinions. He never comes across as arrogant in his writings, and in fact gives the reader access to other scholarly views in the notes. I think that these are huge reasons that his books succeed in the mass media.
So I believe that Jesus Interrupted is a successful book in the Ehrman library, but does it have any negatives. I would have to say that my views are more wishes than negatives. I wish there were more references to other scholars to back up his claims. He uses the phrase "many scholars" and "most scholars", but never truly names them, even in the notes. Although he names a few alternate sources for alternate views, most of the notes reference a previous work of his own.
The second wish is that, while I agree that there needs to be a bridge built from the world of academics to the pews, I think that there also needs to be a little more "spirituality" in the academic circles. It is way too easy to take the human/sacred element out of Christianity. However, I can't claim this as a negative since 1) that is not in Bart's purpose, and 2) I would think Bart would consider himself unqualified in this department. Being an agnostic, I think that he would claim that there are others far better at adding back in the spiritual element after breaking down the New Testament.
So what does one do with Jesus Interrupted? I think that one must use it as a primer for further research into the Bible and what else is out there. Just like a NT Survey class, you don't get everything that is out there from one teacher and one sitting. However, this book is meant to open up a whole new world simply by looking at something that the majority of his readers will be very familiar with. Just like most entry level Div./Seminary students who are taught these same views, there will be a lot of "How did I not know that?" and "Why have I never seen this?". This book is best used as a springboard to launch one into seeking out more about what the academic world has to say about the Bible and, through those people, work towards bridging the gab between the classrooms and the pews....more info
- Jesus Explained???
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Yes, it tends to be repetitive, but I am by no means a Biblical Scholar and it helped me learn many of the things discussed. It is amazing how so many "believers" in the New Testament really never have read the New Testament nor even tried to learn more about it. If you are a "believer", rather than scoff at this book, I encourage you to read it. I further encourage you to keep a copy of your Bible next to you as you read it so you can check it out for yourself. Read the introductions to each book of the New Testament. Read the footnotes. Learn more about what you "believe" in.......form your own opinions, but do it by learning more about what you profess to believe in....more info
- The more contradictions the greater the paradox
The author deserves five stars for his scholarly but clear explanation of how Christianity and the Bible, contradictions and all, evolved. But a star is subtracted for lack of an index and too much repetition towards the end of the book.
The author does reveal an impressive number of contradictions and argues persuasively that in his opinion books that should have been included in the Bible were excluded and books that should not have been included did get into the final version (the Bible could have been much better). Acccording to Bart Ehrman the Bible and Christianity are clearly flawed from a historical-critical perspective but yet Christianity is "arguably the greatest invention in the history of Western Civilization" and "... Jesus is by all accounts the most significant person in the history of Western Civilization." The author does not even attempt to address this paradox in this book. Are the, now revealed, contradictions really hidden strengths? Another book is called for, titled: "Spiritual Greatness Riddled With Contradictions" or something like that.
- His most honest and accessible book yet...
Not for the fainthearted, this is a book that simplifies modern Biblical studies. I don't know that he answers the question why we don't know about them but he does lay out, in succinct form, many of the contradictions, inconsistencies and ideosyncrasies that led him to conclude that the Bible, and thus Christianity, is a very human endeavor.
There is really nothing new in this book that hasn't been available for years (a point he reiterates frequently). In fact, if you are familiar with the terrain, this book is old hat, though I did pick up a few little tidbits of information (the double entendre of the Greek word translated as "born again" for example). That's the fun of the book. If you know this stuff, you will still pick up little bits of information. Ehrman is a masterful expositor of what is often a very dry and complex subject.
If such Biblical studies is foreign to you, some of this stuff my be a shocker. The contradictions aren't what is shocking; what is shocking is just how insulated many Christians are of studies that have been devloping for a hundred years or more.
And in this work Ehrman is up front about the personal connection and how it led to his agnosticism and exit from the faith. While he is not an atheist, he is agnostic, rejecting not God, as such, but what can be said about him. He is a sensitive writer, respectful of belief, so he is not anti-Christ or anti-Christian. He is simply sharing, from a personal perspective, what he learned.
Overall, a very well written book, free from the fetters of overly dry and scholarly language, presented in an easy to read format. Ammunition, I suppose, for Biblical critics to whatever degree; education for those for whom the Bible is a guide for living a life of faith. ...more info
- The Truth
For those who are seeking truth and not just an easy way to dismiss long-held beliefs that have been tried, tested and endured the fires of persecution & skepticism, read Lee Strobel's "Case for Faith", "Case for Christ" and CS Lewis' "Mere Christianity." These are clearly better researched. And prayfully & thoughtfully constructed. ...more info
- Some great points, one-sided views...
Bart Ehrman is all the rage these days. His book, Misquoting Jesus, was immensely popular, earning him the status of being a household name. He's been on tons of press spots; heck, he even got interviewed by the distinguished journalist Steven Colbert.:) With his followup, Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman continues the same line of claims he began with Misquoting Jesus. As a result of his writings, countless people who at one point claimed to follow Jesus abandoned their faith, as Ehrman "obviously" proved that the Bible was an unreliable document, and if the document is unreliable, the faith it speaks of must be unreliable as well, right?
Bart Ehrman is a competent scholar. I think that's what really baffles me about his writing. No, I'm not saying what he is writing is dumb at all. He's obviously brilliant and has some good points to make. The problem is, his generalizations and many of his one-sided assertions don't mesh with a scholar of his caliber.
Let me give you an example. Ehrman says, "Most of the books of the New Testament go under the names of people who didn't actually write them. This has been well known among scholars for the greater part of the past century, and it is taught widely in mainline seminaries and divinity schools throughout the country. As a result, most pastors know it as well. But for many people on the street and in the pews, this is `news'." (p.112) The problem lies in his sweeping generalization that this is taught widely and that most pastors know this as well. In reality, he is talking about liberal scholarship. Conservative scholars rise up to stand against his claims. Ehrman makes it sound like all of academia (in the Christian world, at least), believes this. In truth, many liberal scholars do while most do not. To further the point, many books in the New Testament were NOT written by the person we traditionally associate authorship with. News to you? Yes, many letters were written down by what was called an amanuensis, a person who essentially took dictation down from the author. So, in Galatians, it's most likely Paul did not physically write the letter. But, he did speak it, and his amanuensis wrote it. Paul signed off on the writing, however, saying "See what large letters I write with my own hand!" This doesn't mean Paul wasn't the author- it just means that as was typical of the day, he dictated it to someone else who wrote it down. Paul likely read and approved the final copy as authentic.
Ehrman likes to speak about contradictions in the text. The truth is, the contradictions he speaks about are there. He says, "When students are first introduced to the historical, as opposed to a devotional, study of the Bible, one of the first things they are forced to grapple with is that the biblical text... is chock full of discrepancies, many of them irreconcilable." (p.19) He goes on to discuss discrepancies between stories contained in the gospels. Ehrman fails to really capture the opposite view that each of these gospels are written from starkly different viewpoints, written to vastly different audiences. Finally, the Bible nowhere claims to be a historical document. God allowed things to be written through the eyes of the respective writer, and it's natural that perspectives are different. There are no theological discrepancies. Sure, one gospel may contain a glimpse of a story (the crucifixion, for example) that seemingly has contradicting accounts (did Jesus cry out to His father and seem fearful of the cross or was He calm and collected?). But reconciling these against the theological message of the Scripture is not a problem at all. One must remember genre when discussing the Bible, as well.
A favorite topic of Ehrman comes regarding variants between Greek manuscripts. Many scholars and critics use big numbers in an effort to make a point. Sure, the NT has over 100,000 words, and 300,000 variants. What liberal scholars fail to point out is that most variants are as simple as inverting the words Jesus Christ for Christ Jesus, or putting the letter n at the end of the word rather than in the word (the variable nu). No cardinal doctrine is affected by this. Another topic is copyist errors. Ehrman claims that copyist errors throughout the centuries have led to an unreliable manuscript. He also claims that the documents we have came hundreds of years after the original writing. Again, in a case of selective presentation, he fails to mention that the earliest extant manuscripts have been traced back to 125AD, a generation from their writing. No other ancient literature can boast anywhere near this claim. What he has done is give stats that at first glance cause everyone to say, "Holy Cow!" without qualifying them (which would greatly reduce the shock value).
What bothers me is that his attempt to bring "what the scholars know" to the laypeople who this supposed truth is kept from doesn't present all the information, leading good people who trust the Word of God to doubt their Holy book and the Christ it speaks of. I enjoy when good scholars present their view but clearly state other views as well. Ehrman writes matter-of-factly (and why shouldn't he, it's his book?) about heavy topics that are by no means "settled" in the academic community. Textual Criticism has operated within ebbs and flows for the last two centuries, and competent scholars on both sides of the issues produce excellent scholarship. But to present things as if they are widely accepted without giving the inverse argument is a scary place to be if I'm a scholar like Ehrman. It undermines his credibility and causes deep doubt to set in the hearts of many people unnecessarily. I'd encourage you to read Ben Witherington, Dan Wallace, Scot McKnight, and other competent scholars to see their take on the same viewpoints. They frequently bring both sides of the issue into their writings. Ehrman has a nasty habit of making his and other liberal scholars' beliefs the norm.
Here are three important takeaways I'd ask readers to think on.
First, I think Ehrman is absolutely correct that pastors have not done a good job conveying some of the concepts he speaks of (NT manuscripts, controversies, etc). I personally believe a healthy discussion about how we got our bible could do a lot of people good in the church today. It's important that as followers of Jesus, we have open and honest discussion about important issues like this, and people learn the history of the faith they engage in.
Second, I think it's important for people to read from people who disagree with their beliefs. Despite arriving at different conclusions than I have, I appreciate Ehrman's contributions to the field of study. He's right- we need to talk about these issues. They ARE important. We shouldn't shy away from them.
Finally, if you're a pastor and you checked your brain at the door when you graduated bible school or seminary and your only reading today is popular how-to methods books, you NEED to read books about the Bible. I can't say that strongly enough. The field of study didn't stop when you left school. It moves on. People in your church are reading Ehrman and John Shelby Spong's books, and they are filled with doubt, some eventually leaving the church and their faith altogether. Don't be ignorant of some things that are being discussed right under your nose. I have a rule of thumb- I try to read a balance of 50% of books about the Bible/Bible-related and 50% about other subjects (practice, etc). That's why I read books like this one. I want to know the current issues. I want to learn what new discoveries have been made. I want to keep my mind sharp. When was the last time you looked at a commentary other than to pull a quote for a sermon? When was the last time you thought about how this book or that book arrived at it's present state? Dig!
Ultimately, I think Ehrman did genuinely follow Jesus as a young man. I think his brilliant mind was afforded the opportunity to study with the best of the best (Dr. Bruce Metzger). I don't think the academics really were the reason he chose to go this other path. I believe he began to wrestle with the problem of suffering (how does a good God allow suffering), and his bright intellect ate at him and overwhelmed his faculties, and once he crossed the line of doubt, his intellect kicked in yet again and took him down this path. I understand that. I know it's a tough issue, and I admit I don't fully understand it as well (although I can give you a nice textbook answer). I think Erhman's faith unraveled over this fact, and his academic mind began to see things in another light. In short, God just doesn't tell us everything. We have to trust in Him and ask Him for truth. Ehrman believes he found the truth, and is now an agnostic. Jesus said "you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." I believe the truth Ehrman believes he has found has taken him down a defensive path of un-freedom. I pray that his heart meets up with the Creator of all truth once again....more info
- Very, very provocative - excellent!!!
What Mr. Ehrman has done in this book, is something anyone can do (as encouraged by Mr. Ehrman himself,) and that is: simply lay the books of the bible side by side and compare them. One doesn't have to agree with his theories and conclusions as to the why's and how's of the discrepancies, they don't matter and can't be proven or disproven. What one sees is that the bible is replete with incongruence's and specious hyperbole.
This is what drives me insane about biblical apologists; they will kill or be killed defending something that due to it's inherent conflicts, can be used to uphold just about any position that one wants to indulge in; even if the central character of the new testament (Jesus) admonishes us to" love one another as ourselves" and "love each other as I have loved you."
Yet, Ehrman's book, this review and all other reviews and other works similar to "Jesus Interrupted" are a bit of a soft shoe dance because with regard to the bible - WE DON'T HAVE THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS! Therefore, even if the books came from on high and are the inerrant word of the Almighty, we lost them (or worse; stolen from us and hidden in a deep underground vault in the Vatican) thus what can be said or written about the extant version of the bible is guesswork at best as the very subject matter itself is .........guesswork!
In my opinion, as I walk my path to truth, it has become readily apparent to me that books (yes even the bible, the gita and any other holy scriptures) are for the purpose of gaining knowledge, but to gain wisdom one must go inside and "be silent, and know that I AM God."
A great work, a masterpiece of cogence, scholarship and readability; an easy, welcome and deserved 5 star effort.
- I wish good atheists would have factual "facts"
I read the first significant part of Bart Ehrman's chapter 2, A World of Contradictions, and already I can see he screwed up his thesis's opening illustration: the death of Jesus in Mark "versus" John.
I used an Excel spreadsheet, carefully entered every relevant verse from Mark 14-15 and John 18-19, and after alligning Bart's claims regarding "Preparation for the Passover" and "evening and morning" times given for the time of death of Jesus--Jewish "HOURS of the day"--I can see he is just plain mistaken! Do I have any hopes Bart will be more accurate in future chapters? Well, I have at least enough hope so that I will give him more chances by continuing to read further.
After finding his first faith-busting claim to be erroneous, I searched to see what some other scholars might say about this. Perhaps my own analysis still had a more hidden errors that I failed to catch? Anyway, here's a link to something written by someone else who also finds some faults with his scholarship: http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2009/04/bart-interrupted-detailed-analysis-of.html
"I mean Bart Ehrman, so far as I can see, and I would be glad to be proved wrong about this fact, has never done the necessary laboring in the scholarly vineyard to be in a position to write a book like Jesus, Interrupted from a position of long study and knowledge of New Testament Studies. He has never written a scholarly monograph on NT theology or exegesis. He has never written a scholarly commentary on any New Testament book whatsoever!"
And I had so hoped for accuracy that might set me free from the "bondage" of ancient Biblical writings...
Why don't more scholars use MS Excel to analyse their textual criticism so that they (and we) might be aided in spotting errors in the ancient Biblical texts? TEXT can be entered into the cells, you know! And then if you use drawing tools, you can "connect the dots" with lines between errors so that us lay people can more easily SEE what the heck you mean. And in the process of doing this, you will probably find your own analysis to be erroneous and fix it before printing. And spare me the trouble of finishing your work for you....more info
- Pablum for the pseudo-educated A&E/History Channel crowd
Nature abhors a vacuum. When one does exist anything, regardless or quality, will rush in to fill the void. Today, people are desperate for answers and would like to know if the Bible provides them, and, if it does, can those answers be trusted. The vacuum is the knowledge of the Bible that people desperately seek. In the dearth of satisfying answers in rushes the pseudo-scholarship of the legion of programs on A&E and other such cable infotainment that passes itself off as scholarship. Included now in the flotsam filling the void is Mr. Ehrman's book.
Unbeknown to the general public is the true state of Biblical "scholarship" in the majority of religious institutions. Long ago higher criticism dominated the atmosphere of such institutions, a form of criticism that begins with its own set of assumptions regarding the Scriptures. Whereas you might expect the churches to be defenders of the Bible, in reality they have long clung to doctrines that are known to have pagan origins - i.e. immortality of the soul, hellfire, the trinity, Easter, Christmas, etc. The churches, rather than defenders of truth have become institutions rife with hypocrisy and lawlessness.
It is from this fold that Ehrman emerges. Perhaps no longer able to tolerate the cognitive dissonance that comes with being an adherent to such institutions, he instead left and has become a self-proclaimed agnostic. This is entirely reasonable given that he probably felt there were no other options. And, undoubtedly with good motives, he now seeks to expose the perceived failings of the Bible. What Mr. Ehrman and his audience fail to realize is that the fault is with the institutions and not with the Scriptures. As the song says "too many churches and not enough truth".
- Interesting and Educational!
The author contends that the Bible is the most revered book in the history of Western Civilization, as well as the most thoroughly misunderstood. The "good news" is that thousands of scholars have made significant progress in understanding the Bible over the last 200 years; the "bad news" is that little of this has been communicated to the public.
Ehrman focuses on the issue of what the New Testament includes - diverging views about who Jesus was, and books forged in the name of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later. There are also inconsistencies within some of the books - an even bigger problem within the Old Testament. Still another concern is that the Bible sometimes seems to embrace a view unworthy of God - eg. ordering the massacre of an entire city, eternal damnation for but a few years of sinning.
Still another issue is that there are other books one time considered canonical, but ultimately did not become part of Scripture, and the lack of any original copies (only copies made centuries later).
Overall, Ehrman sees the book as about how faith in the Bible as the historically inerrant and inspired Word of God cannot be sustained in light of what historians know about it. The New Testament (27 books, 16-17 authors, written over 70 years), and the Old Testament (39 books, dozens of authors, written over 600+ years), have too many inconsistencies and errors within them.
At the book's end, Ehrman also tells readers that he went from an evangelist to agnostic because he couldn't relate to a God that allowed so much suffering and evil to exist within the world....more info
- Excellent Overview
I have alaways found religion interesting and I have enjoyed the Ehrman books I've read in the past. This book essentially describes the probable evolution of the Christian religion from Jesus' original preaching to the Catholic church 400 hundred years later. It is broader in scope than his previous books, pulling together what we know about Jesus, what the various early Christian communities believed and how the new testament books were written, changed and selected (each of which he's covered in more detail in other books) and how the Christianity settled on some of its most basic concepts. I found the book to be a quick and interesting read and not particularly controversial. The only part of the book that didn't work for me was Ehrman's frequent discusson of his own religious journey and the reactions of fervently religious students and others to this information. This seems a somewhat unrelated topic; I wanted to read a book about the early development of Christianity, not a book about the clash of fundamentalism vs history and science....more info
- Jesus Interrupted
An eye opening book. Definitely changes my beliefs about the bible. The "horizontal reading" of the bible (especially The Gospels) was a unique approach that I had never considered. All students of the bible should read this....more info
This book is heresy. I am praying for the author and those who fall for this work and believe its lies. ...more info
- A good summary of New Testament authorships
If you believe that every word of the Bible was written by (a) God or (b) by the person who is the ascribed author, you will not like this book. Ehrman is very clearly in the historical-critical camp, and this is not going to sit well with folks who have a more conservative model of Bible authority. (Disclaimer: I am a United Methodist pastor with a Ph.D., and I am very comfortable with Historical-Critical analyses occupying the same space in my head as my faith in God and my belief in the foundational authority of Scripture.)
Having said that, if the reader has not read any of Ehrman's previous work, e.g. "Misquoting Jesus," this is going to be a delightful eye-opener, particularly in his analysis of the early church's transition from being a Jewish sect to being actually anti-Jewish. This is very much a "popular market" book -- people who have little taste for footnotes and detailed documentation will find this an easy and entertaining read. Readers who would like to know the basis for some of his judgments will be disappointed in the lack of supporting documentation -- although a lot of what he says is generally accepted by most liberal Christian Bible scholars and teachers -- and careful readers of the Bible will find some glib statements here and there that are not fully supported by Scripture. A lot of his material from other books he has written has found its way into this text, particularly the section on the point-of-view of Luke and Mark as Gospel writers. People who have read several of other books will find whole sections of this book to be very familiar.
This is still a worthy book for people who are familiar with historical-critical analyses directed toward the Hebrew Bible, and who are open to applying these sorts of things to the New Testament. If you are open to the possibility that some of the theological and textual contradictions in the New Testament arise from different authors writing under the same name, or if you have ever wondered why the Paul seems to take a different theological direction in some of his writings than Jesus appears to in Matthew, this will be a delightful introductory overview despite the occasional irritation. As other reviewers have said, Ehrman writes some good books and some bad ones, and this is one of the good ones.
- The best, most concise discussion of the historical Jesus I've come across
I've read quite a few books on early Christianity (including others by Ehrman), so I can't say that I found an abundance of new information in this book, but I can say that this is easily the best, most concise and well presented discussion of the historical Jesus and historical/critical view of the New Testament I've come across.
One thing that always strikes me when I am reading Ehrman's work is how respectful he is of religion and people of faith. I've read a few books by atheist authors who (while I often find their work interesting and entertaining), do have a tendency to be a little smarmy about religion. Ehrman is a former fundamentalist Christian, who describes himself now as agnostic, but unlike some authors in this genre, he isn't trying to convince people to give up their faith, he really wants readers to understand the origins of the Christian faith and how it has evolved over centuries.
Jesus Interrupted is very readable (Ehrman's writing style is accessible for `non scholars') and each chapter builds on the others very effectively. Ehrman is clearly an expert on this topic and is an excellent teacher, and this is conveyed throughout Jesus Interrupted.
If this subject matter interests you - Jesus Interrupted is a must read. Highly recommended.
- after 35 days of order, not received yet.
it is you responsibilty to pay me back.I did not expect this from a respectable company like you.after 35 days of my order , and the book not received?...more info
- This should not be controversial
As a lapsed Catholic, I found it interesting to read a work about the Bible written by someone whose background is Evangelical protestantism. Mr. Ehrman felt it necessary to argue against the prejudices of his former brothers in faith. Yet despite his arguments, he does not want to end belief, but to provide an intellectual underpinning for those who still believe, as well as allowing for those who come away from Bible study as new agnostics. This work fits well with works by such as Gary Wills, Elaine Pegels and Karen Armstrong, who try to help regular folks understand how we got from an itinerant Jewish preacher to Christianity - the suggested course here makes the most sense. Read the others too, each has much to say.
To those reviewers who write ponderous rebuttals, well, you missed the point. ...more info
- Ehrman needs more than his personal opinion
I am shocked that most reviewers of this and other Ehrman books don't challenge some of his claims that are given without substantiation. For example, "what the vast majority of biblical scholars believe". What, quantitatively, is a "vast majority"? Does Ehrman give his sources for this statement? I am an avid fan of Ehrman and consider him to be fair and objective; however, his analysis and arguments are not the inerrant truth and his claims are not inviolate. He makes claims that are nothing more that his current notions or beliefs, but he leads the reader to believe that they are held by the "vast majority" of historians and Christian scholars. His scholarship needs some upgrading in my opinion. How would Ehrman's works hold up to the historical-critical method and horizontal analysis?...more info
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