Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)
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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
The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later
Jesus, Paul, Matthew, and John all represented fundamentally different religions
Established Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity—were the inventions of still later theologians
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.
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
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
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.
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 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.
Can This Guy Please Stop? Look. We get it. Bart was raised a fundamentalist, found out the Bible isn't what he thought it was, and so now doesn't believe a word of it. How many times is he going to go back to that well to try to fabricate another best-seller. I mean, I could feel for him, and the pain and sense of betrayal that must come from having your childhood faith yanked out from under you, but isn't it time to stop being a child?
The really sad thing is, none of this would have happened to him if he'd been raised in one of the "Catholic" traditions (the RC Church, Orthodoxy or High Church Anglicanism). Then his faith wouldn't have depended on a distorted understanding of a book and perhaps it wouldn't have been so easily shaken by such trivial attacks.
If you want to read a sound and scholarly review of the gospels and their historicity you still can't do better than Luke Timothy Johnson's 'The Real Jesus'. It's not fundamentalist. It's not anti-intellectual. But it gives you something more than a sad adolescent's anger at his "dad"....more info
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
Eye-opening 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
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
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.
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.
Enlightening 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
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
Excellent 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
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
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.
Heresy This book is heresy. I am praying for the author and those who fall for this work and believe its lies. ...more info
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
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
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
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
good book This is a good book filled with lots of informative information. I highly recommend it....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.
A waste of time and money This book represents another poor attempt to discredit the Bible and Christianity. Bart's arguements are filled with holes, just like the DaVinci Code. He needs to get a real job and stop trying to make a living by displaying his lack of knowledge and his intollerance against those who think and believe differently than what he believes.
His book is a waste of time and is simply his own personal 'rant' against the Bible.
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
Money for Nothing.... There are a multitude of very serious problems with "Jesus Interrupted"....
However, you are not just going to take my word for it... especially if this is your initial exposure to these issues. If you don't have at least some academic background under your belt in these very complex issues it will be extremely difficult, if not totally impossible, to fairly evaluate Bart's book.... oh, well.... like I said you are not going to just take my word for it....
The truth is that most of the people who are attracted to these pulp fiction type of New York Times Best Sellers simply can't be bothered with doing the hard work required to really study and fully understand the complex issues at hand here. Be honest - are you one of those people? Yeah, I know Bart makes it appear readily accessible, but in reality he has selectively withheld so much important information that this book becomes "non-academic" very quickly - a fun read for sure, a controversial read for sure, and an entertaining read for sure; but a legitimate, trustworthy balanced academic product? No way. I guess this bears repeating - Bart excludes all important and vital information that would undermine his thesis.... but, how is a novice reader going to know that?
Consider, for example, that most readers will likely just automatically assume that Bart's academic credentials provide him with a certain amount of unquestioned scholarly legitimacy - an "expert" if you will in all things "religious", however, you might be surprised that his supposed "expertise" is actually very narrow and almost completely outside the subject matter of this latest book. Just because a medical "doctor" has the MD title, it certainly does not automatically follow that he is qualified to perform brain surgery. You still don't believe me about Bart's lack of credentials in the specific areas he writes about in this book? My suggestion is to google the following site:
"Dr. Ben Witherington of Asbury Theological Seminary Bart interrupted part 1" (note: there is also a part 2 and a part 3, etc., but just reading part 1 and part 2 is enough)
At that site you will find an appraisal of Bart's book by Ben Witherington, who has the same or better academic credentials as Bart, only his expertise actually INCLUDES the subject matter at hand. Do yourself a favor and check out Witherington's honest, balanced and scholarly perspective on all of this - a perspective you will not find in Bart's book. See if your opinion has changed after reading Witherington's rebuttal... it is a quick read and the five minutes it will take to read it will be a real eye-opener... have fun.
Let's consider the very first two "errors" Bart outlines in his book (see p. 7). You would think he would bring out the heavy guns early on to make his point. Consider the denial of Peter three times before the cock crows... One gospel speaks of a rooster crowing - most people would assume that this is the well known crowing at daybreak. But, if you want to be absolutely technically correct you might want to acknowledge that a rooster is also known to crow around midnight - hence he actually crows twice (once at midnight and once at daybreak). So, while one gospel speaks of a "dawn" crowing, another gospel speaks more specifically of two crowings, one at midnight and the main one that everyone associates with a rooster crowing at dawn. No contradiction, just more information in one account versus another. It's actually very simple, Bart! Nothing to lose your faith over...
Here is the next one; Jesus cleansed the temple just once. In the synoptic gospel it is at the end of the story while in the gospel of John it is at the beginning of the story. Bart sees this as a problem. But, again, the answer is quite simple - the gospel of John is not always chronologically ordered whereas the synoptic gospels typically, but not always, are. Ancient "histories" are known not to be strictly chronological. Below is a direct quote from Papais (from the first/second century) that states in no uncertain terms that the gospel of Mark, for example, is not always in chronological order;
"Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ."
Biblical scholars have always known that the gospels are not primarily concerned with chronology; and Bart should know it as well - get over it! Why would you try to force a modern convention on a two-thousand year old genre when you have this clearly written statement from Papais? This is really embarrassing for Bart's so-called "scholarship".
Are these two examples of "contradictions" really supposed to shake the faith of Christians? Bart will really have to come up with something better than this... and these are the just the first two problems (p. 7) that he offers up. Wow! What a weak presentation. Seriously, you need to look into this stuff further on your own before you blindly buy into what Bart offers up as a "problem" or a "contradiction". These same types of inexcusable "errors" on Bart's part, not the Bible, are repeated over and over again throughout this book. Most of what Bart offers as "contradiction" is simply the end result of his own of sloppy reasoning and faulty assumptions - garbage in, garbage out. Applying 21st Century standards to a two-thousand year old genre by insisting that the Gospels should be chronological when there is no good reason why they have to be; criticizing "harmonizing" as a tool to reconcile narrative gaps in the Gospels, but then employing that very same method himself to "create" differences that do not really exist; and on and on. Some of Bart's sloppiness is surprisingly, perhaps even shockingly, easy to see through (see my own examples above) while some of it would take more space than we have here to fully expose the holes in the reasoning - it is all too often the case that when all is said and done, Bart really has nothing of consequence to say.
Bart's method is simple - he controls the flow of information by presenting only what he wants to present and withholds vital information from an audience not equipped to evaluate his "evidence". Even so, I am willing to grant that somewhere, somehow Bart just might have stumbled over some vital issue that could be properly labeled "contradiction", but since he has done such a pathetic job with his very first two examples and just about everything that follows, why should I even continue to read it? Seriously, why should I have to ferret through pages and pages of "junk" research in the hopes of finding something worthy of my attention? If the Bible really is that flawed and Bart really does have something of serious academic consideration then where is it? I went through page after page of overstated, biased, minority positions - becoming frustrated in the process as I realized just how slanted and sloppy Bart's presentation really was - my immediate concern being that other readers are simply not equipped to properly evaluate the material as presented here and therefore will not see through the subterfuge.
Consider also that Bart tried to fuel the conspiracy theory angle by his claims that all of these "contradictions" have somehow been purposefully hidden from congregations for these many centuries and that he has now single-handedly brought them to the light of day. Wow! What an ego! You have got to be kidding - this is exactly the kind of half-truth that non-Christians are going to revel in. Non-Christians really, really want to hear this sort of thing and Bart feeds it to them by the shovel full. Conspiracy theories sell books, lots of them. The only problem is that Pastors who do not ascribe to Bart's viewpoints are not "hiding them" so much as disagreeing with them! And there are a lot of Pastors who just flat out disagree with Bart's minority position viewpoints. Most Christians that I know are, and have been, fully aware of just about everything that Bart has "revealed" in his book....
What non-Christians don't comprehend is that Bart's supposed "secret knowledge" that he "exposes" in his book has been around the block in Christian circles more times than a police car in bad neighborhood. This really is old, old stuff that most Christians have hashed through a long time ago. All of this goes back way prior to the Internet era... it goes without saying that if you google any of this stuff today, you will see hundreds (or thousands?!) of sites that have been discussing all of this for at least as long as the Internet has been around. And even prior to the Internet you cannot have walked into a "Christian" bookstore in the past forty years without being overwhelmed with scores of books on the shelves that dealt in depth with everything Bart thinks only he and his hand-selected "scholars" know about. Of course, non-Christians would not be aware of this since they avoid anything even remotely "Christian" like the plague, especially a "Christian" bookstore. Unfortunately, however, non-Christians seeking a purely academic justification for avoiding Christianity will have to find it elsewhere - Bart's book just isn't up to the challenge.
Some final observations about Bart's recounting of his "journey" through the Christian experience - i.e. starting out as a stone cold fundamentalist, progressing to a fundamentalist university with this same mindset in tow and then finally onward to graduate school where he eventually discovers that "religion", at least in this form, didn't work for him any longer (surprise!). The cynical aside to all this is that Bart implies that he does not want his personal negative experiences in this regard to unduly influence your view of Christianity - no, if you still want to believe in the Easter Bunny after reading his book (which just happens to thoroughly trash the Bible) that would be just dandy as far as Bart is concerned. Just don't blame Bart and his latest book if you too happen to decide to give up on God...
Well, how does one respond to all that? First of all, in a "scholarly" book Bart's "personal journey" would have no place at all, but remember that this is a pulp fiction New York Times best seller - so anything goes. Consider that we now actually have elected a President largely because of his appealing "personal journey" narrative. He in turn pushed for his very first Supreme Court Justice nominee based, again, primarily upon the same sort of criteria - an appealing "personal journey" narrative. So why should Bart's "personal journey" not be important in same vein? Well... perhaps in a scholarly work we might want an unbiased opinion at the tiller - perhaps a "personal journey" has no legitimate place in an objective academic work. Or in a courtroom we might not welcome the bias that a "personal narrative" automatically brings to the table in a venue where Justice is supposed to be blind. Regardless, what these trends seem to be saying to us is, "Welcome to the Post-Modern world and please do not try to confuse me or influence me with the facts".
I guess my first observation about Bart's "personal journey narrative" is to note that all of us probably knew people just like "Bart the Fundamentalist" in high school or college. These were the self-righteous, self proclaimed "Bible Believers" that were running around trying to convert everyone in sight, often with a healthy dose of fire and brimstone rhetoric throw in for good measure. Here is the reality check - perhaps unknown to non-Christians, mainstream Christians were painfully aware that all that the "Bart Fundamentalists" and the like were really accomplishing was to give religion a bad name - reinforcing over and over again some rather well-established caricatures of religion for the media and "educated" people to make fun of. The truth of the matter is that mainstream Christians did not appreciate having to "clean-up" after these people. "Bart the Fundamentalist" and what he represented was not a pretty picture... not for Christians and certainly not for non-Christians.
Unfortunately, after high school, Bart the Fundamentalist now goes to college and acquires "intellectual" ammo for his "my Bible right or wrong" views. Now, he becomes even more difficult to deal with. Some of you can picture being stuck in an airplane seat for hours next to one of these guys and being plummeted with "intellectual" arguments about "Jesus", the "Bible" and perhaps the ever-imminent "End Times" scenarios. Again, this is not a pretty picture of Christianity and mainstream Christians are again suffering with the fallout. But, Bart the Fundamentalist is not quite finished with his now tiresome and unproductive "journey", the next stop is graduate school and the aftermath where Bart morphs into "Bart the Intellectual Fundamentalist". Here he begins to finally realize that his personal viewpoints on the Bible are deeply flawed - his fundamentalist past is now viewed as an embarrassment. But incredibly, in the face of this new found insight he decides not to finally accept the Christian religion in the realistic and tenable form that most mainstream Christians adopt, but rather to reject Christianity entirely - in essence repeating the very same mistake over again; Bart continues to seek out and adopt unsustainable minority positions. And once again, it's not a pretty picture.... At this point in his "journey" he once again reinvents himself, this time he becomes "Bart the Intellectual Agnostic / Atheist". Now we find our hero reduced to penning embarrassingly flawed paperback books aimed at audiences he darned well knows are not equipped to accurately evaluate his overstated presentations - any pastoral concerns for the Christian flock Bart might have once felt obligated to are now tossed out the window entirely - you guys are on your own now, Bart has moved on... He even begins to make appearances for the popular TV talk show circuit... how low can you sink?
Overall, I see Bart as incredibly foolish from day one; someone not very astute about what spirituality is really about (I'll give you a hint Bart - it's not about you...) and as a result was never attracted to a realistic view of Christianity; whether it be an untenable "Bible above all else" stance or now, at the complete opposite end of the spectrum, adopting an apparently total outright rejection of Christianity. In both instances Bart simply missed the boat, always unwilling to adhere to a realistic Christian view of God and always gravitating towards seriously mistaken and certainly overstated minority stances. I don't think Bart has ever given Christianity a fair shake, not when he was a Fundamentalist, not when he was an Intellectual Fundamentalist and certainly not now that he is an Agnostic / Atheist. For some people Bart's current situation seems to evoke pity, but I would just call it what it really is - foolish.
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.
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
How is this different from his other books? No offense to Dr. Ehrman, but doesn't it follow that if the Bible is not to be trusted (see Misquoting Jesus) and God not to be trusted (see book about the problem of evil), then the whole thing is hogwash and not to be believed, period?
So why does Ehrman go on and on? Besides the desire to make money, I mean.
I think both sides should be honest -- no one will be convinced who is not already convinced. Thus, the first review of this book is by an acclaimed preacher-turned-atheist. The secularists, other religionists, and skeptics will give this book a FIVE. Believers will give it a ONE. Ehrman gets paid either way....more info
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
Deception Interupted I was intellectually delighted to have Scholar Ehrman's astute knowledge of the bible in my formerly fundamentalist religious hands.
His flawless research is way more likely the real "biblical inerrancy" label than what misleading preachers stick on the bible itself.
Finally, "Thank Bart," through this timely book we now have some "tip-of-the-iceberg" samples of the logical historical/critical truth of the bible to interrupt and to hopefully replace the emotional/devotional approach to the man-made errant bible.
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
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
"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
The Real Title I wonder if Mr. Barf Ehrman really wanted to name this book "Jesus Interruptus" but his publisher didnt have the guts...???...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
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.
Good for absolute beginners If you're completely unfamiliar with the Historical-Critical Method, this is a decent place to start. If you've read more than one or two books on the history of early Christianity or the development of the New Testament, however, you'll be bored. The only real criticism I have with this book other than that is the author's complete dismissal of the Mythicist viewpoint. A very good case can be made (and has been, most effectively in my opinion by Earl Doherty in The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus) that Jesus never existed as an actual historical person. ...more info
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
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
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
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".
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.
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.
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