Having studied religion, I was not unaware of problems in the NT, but this book sensitively, honestly lays bare the extent of the difficulties. I only wish it were required reading for all Christians.
Two things to know about this audiobook. As an unabridged version, it's too long by half. The second is that the voice of the reader is a little aggravating to my ear. But: If you've never had a History of the Bible class in a mainstream university (as opposed to a Bible College for the fundamentalist point of view) this book is for you. I enjoyed hearing an historical- critical review of the Bible. I will download Ehrmann's other book: Misquoting Jesus.
I've liked all of Professor Ehrman's books but this is the best yet. There are very few audio offerings that I would want to repeat. This is one of them.
a mangyan who loves to hike, to walk, to run, and to read.
suddenly i become a bart ehrman fan... its well written and very informative... made me read my bible between each lines... as he said try reading or listen to this book with an open mind and you'll see...
I started with Misquoting Jesus, by the same author. As a newly freed Agnostic, I was eager to know what lies I had been taught my whole life. This book was a great follow-up. There was some overlap, but that is needed so each book can stand alone. I actually found myself getting angry and some of the information. I was raised to believe that God inspired the Bible... not the case at all. If you are questioning, I highly recommend ANY book by this author!
I would highly recommend to those interested in both biblical history, and history of the bible. If you enjoyed Misquoting Jesus and Beyond Belief this will serve you well. It is not as in depth as I had hoped but he states that is not the intent. I would love to see other religious topics reviewed with the same historical view. I cannot but think that he was stung by criticism related to Misquoting Jesus as he repetitively (and to my ear a little annoyingly) explains that what is being presented is common, widely accepted, knowledge among scholars.
The Jason Culp narration is excellent except that his voice and tone lends an officious air when the wide acceptance among scholars contention returns.
Listening to this book made me wish that I had the opportunity to sit in Bart's lecture hall as a student listening to him first hand. I highly recommend this title to anyone with any interest in historical and critical approach to biblical scholarship.
I love a good book
As I discovered more about this author, I realized he has an agenda. He is a former devout Christian who lost his faith after attending a very liberal seminary. He appears to have an agenda that being Christian is based on inaccurate or incomplete historical knowledge. He sets himself up as a self styled expert who is much more knowlegeable than people of faith. It is very professorial in tone. I think the author has a destructive agenda and is clearly anti Christian and pro liberal. I quit listening to it before I could get half way through.
Bloke who took to audiobooks in order to beguile long hours on the road travelling to photography gigs across his home state. Now addicted!
Can there be many educated Westerners to whom it would come as a shock that the New Testament does not present an accurate, or logically-consistent, portrayal of historical events, least of all when it comes to that story's protagonist, arguably the most famous person who has ever lived? Or that it contradicts itself, and cannot even resolve the character and aims of its hero?
Should you be one of these hypothetical sheltered souls, this may well be the best place to begin your exposure to those cruel winds whipped-up by any real historical examination of the texts.
The point is made, and made well, that the writers of the NT did not set out to write The Bible, and the politics - and sheer arbitrariness - of what ended up constituting 'the definitive account' of the life of Jesus is convincingly documented.
I suppose the problem I have is that the conclusion that Ehrman derives from it all - that, despite having been a devout amongst the devout who admits his researches have made him an agnostic himself, nothing here need make any reader a non-believer - would appear to be a non-sequitur.
And something of a cop-out.
For, exposed to all this clinical historical information, the anachronisms, the contradictions, the absurdities, and the compelling evidence of the all-too-human frailties and fervent passions of the authors - whoever they may have been - how can anything resembling doctrinal 'faith' endure, without resort to the merest humbug?
For me it certainly can't, but I suppose I've never been inclined to believe, and I live in a nation where the Church is now not much more than just another community organization to which one might belong - a sort of sacerdotal Rotary - whether by accident of history or by choice.
The historical absurdity of the story is certainly no small part of the decline of Christianity in much of the West, as is the rise of Science and the concomitant - and less desirable - rise of the consumer economy and its vulgar, and frequently exploitative, materialism.
Decline, that is, except, of course, in one nation, the leader of the West, which is now, despite being arguably the most materialistic nation ever to have existed, and unlike its cousins, scarcely secular, to a degree that would probably have shocked its founders.
There it's much more difficult to come out and just say clearly 'look, it's just a series of pedagogic - and implausible - stories composed by personalities that we would now regard as, um, rather-too-zealous, to put it mildly'. Intriguing, certainly, and the moral ideas it advances are certainly generally more appealing than many of the preceding book's more violent notions, but fatally dangerous to confuse with fact or truth.
In this sense, this is a book written very much for that one nation, and probably presents it about as great a challenge as it can bear.
The rest of us can be fascinated and amused - I, too, would have enjoyed a sky-high Towering Jesus and a Speaking Cross, and rather regret the exclusion of that Gospel!
(I will add that this book will almost certainly not please those looking for a fiery New Atheist denunciation of Christianity as Fraud or Neurological Impairment - there are plenty of such polemics elsewhere!)
Culp's genial and avuncular narration makes for pleasant listening, and, should this material be at all threatening to you, is also about as gentle an introduction to an uncomfortable exposition as you could possibly hope for.