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From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity | [The Great Courses, Bart D. Ehrman]

From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity

Step back to Christianity's first three centuries to see how it transitioned from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. How did a single group from among many win the struggle for dominance to establish the beliefs central to the faith, rewrite the history of Christianity's internal conflicts, and produce a canon of sacred texts – the New Testament – that supported its own views?
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Publisher's Summary

Step back to Christianity's first three centuries to see how it transitioned from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. How did a single group from among many win the struggle for dominance to establish the beliefs central to the faith, rewrite the history of Christianity's internal conflicts, and produce a canon of sacred texts – the New Testament – that supported its own views?

These 24 lectures provide a fresh and provocative perspective on how a movement of perhaps only 20 lower-class followers of a Jewish apocalyptic preacher crucified as an enemy of the state grew to include nearly four million adherents in only 300 years. Professor Ehrman looks at the faith's beginnings, starting with the historical Jesus, Jewish-Christian relations, the way Paul and other Christians spread the new faith, hostility to the Christian mission, internal struggles within the faith, and the formation of traditional Christianity as we know it today.

Christianity argued its ancient roots by retaining the Jewish scriptures and arguing that it was, in fact, the fulfillment of what those scriptures had promised. Throughout these lectures, Professor Ehrman challenges old misconceptions and offers fresh perspectives on aspects of Christianity and its roots that many of us might have thought we already understood. By offering you a scholar's perspective on the origins of what Professor Ehrman describes as the most important institution in Western civilization, this engaging course will increase your understanding of Christianity today.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.


©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses

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  •  
    Ahmedinejad Bloomington, MN, United States 09-18-13
    Ahmedinejad Bloomington, MN, United States 09-18-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An Objective History of Early Christianity"

    This course is not a devotional course. It is not intended necessarily for Christians, but for those who are interested in the history of Christianity. This is not Christianity from a theological perspective. In other words, this is education. It is not a course on faith.

    Professor Ehrman is an erudite scholar on the Bible and the history of Christianity. If you wish to receive an objective education on the subject, this course is appropriate for you.

    34 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    kathryn 03-10-15
    kathryn 03-10-15
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    "Excellent historical analysis"

    A subject that is hard to find in a strictly historical framework. Very informative. Recommend for Christians and religious scholars.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tad Davis 01-16-15
    Tad Davis 01-16-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Ideas, not people"

    Bart Ehrman is spot on as usual. The advantage of listening to his lectures rather than to someone else narrating his book is hearing the author's own voice. Ehrman is enthusiastic and engaging; he sounds like he's speaking off the cuff rather than reading a script; and he's able to present complex material in a clear and systematic way. It's important to note, however, that this lecture series is a history of early Christian IDEAS rather than early Christian people. There are a number of people discussed, of course - people like Tertullian, Ignatius, and Origen - but the lectures are far more topical than chronological.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason Hoge Gainesville, Florida 01-08-15
    Jason Hoge Gainesville, Florida 01-08-15
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    "Informative, but Biased."
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    There is quite a bit of interesting information that anyone with an interest in history or religion should consider, but it is quite obvious what the lecturer's religious opinions are based on his lectures.


    What could The Great Courses and Bart D. Ehrman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    The lectures should be more neutral in regards to religious opinions. Dr. Ehrman doesn't explicitly state his beliefs, but they are definitely implied throughout the course.


    Which character – as performed by Professor Bart D. Ehrman – was your favorite?

    If the story is about Christianity, I would assume Jesus. There are other interesting players in the lecture.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    As I said, the lecture was informative and I don't have regrets with the purchase.


    Any additional comments?

    Dr. Ehrman is knowledgeable and a wonderful speaker, but I think speakers on religious of political topics should do as much as they can to remain neutral for lecturing purposes. Unfortunately, I did come across conflicts in his statements between this lecture and "The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History."

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    D. Jett 07-13-15
    D. Jett 07-13-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Awesome Ehrman"

    This is pretty typical work by Bart D Ehrman, meaning that the research is impeccable and it is presented so the lay person can understand the material. A lot of the material will seem familiar to readers of Ehrman, but this in no way lessons the significance of this particular work. Highly recommended.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard C. San Bruno, CA USA 07-06-15
    Richard C. San Bruno, CA USA 07-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Very informative, very well done"

    A great introduction to Christian history, information key to understanding modern Christianity, it's doctrine, and relationships. One of the aspects I appreciated, which doesn't seem to be done enough, is Prof. Ehrman would summarize previous material to put new information in proper context. I would have liked more references, but it may have been included in the original syllabus. Worth your time if you have any interest in understanding Christianity.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fred United States 05-25-15
    Fred United States 05-25-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Thorough but fascinating"

    Once again the professor has brought out all sorts of information that I didn't know in a way that made me want to learn more. A person who wants to learn about the Initial growth of Christianity should really like this book.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adam 10-16-13
    Adam 10-16-13
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    "More speculation than scholarship"

    I was disappointed that there was more guessing than real answers. Per the professor, sources are scarce but then went on to do a lot speculating about things he and his colleagues really don't know. This is not helpful. I stuck out the whole lecture hoping it would get better which it did only marginally, cringing as it went along. I was reminded of Paul's statement, "Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

    13 of 35 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David United States 06-17-14
    David United States 06-17-14 Member Since 2012

    Hellicopter Man

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    "I recommend this with strong caution."
    Would you try another book from The Great Courses and/or Professor Bart D. Ehrman?

    I have been grinding through these and find them a mixed quality. Even the lesser are worth a listen. Perhaps more quantum mechanics next.


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    Yes but I might run out of quality stuff. Keep it up. This is likely a growing market.


    What three words best describe Professor Bart D. Ehrman’s performance?

    Shallow. Sophmoric. Mediocher. Still worth the listen once you know these things.


    Did From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity inspire you to do anything?

    Yes. Write a detailed critic below.


    Any additional comments?

    I recommend this with strong caution. Let me describe my qualifications to comment.

    I spent a year reading 200 bc -150 ad literature in this area with about 1,000 print out pages and a stack of books. I found one serious mistranslation in what was presented as "The Apostles Bible" as well as one seemingly deliberate anti-semetec translation in "The Marterdom of Pollycarp".

    So whats my beef with the lecturer? Lets start with anti semetism of the early Church. Theologens DID present plenty of grist for that mill. The lecturer, however, seems nearly oblivious the slander was two ways and that Jews of the era had the better of the Christians by virtue of shear numbers.

    Further, he also seems oblivious of The Talmud which includes all sorts of calumnies such that Reform Jews I asked referred to it as 'Folk Literature'. I consulted an Israeli Orthodox Jew who confirmed my translations were not only good but excellant. He reffered to Jesus as 'Your Man' not being permitted to say his name. I really liked that guy.

    Anyway, the Talmud presents non-Jews as little more then natural resources for the picking.

    7 of 22 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alexkes Romeoville, IL, United States 09-07-13
    Alexkes Romeoville, IL, United States 09-07-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Another Angry Athiests Views"
    What would have made From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity better?

    If professor Bart D Ehrman would have walked up to the microphone, turned back around and sat down without opening his mouth. Just kidding he has a right to his distorted views.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure but it won't be another book about Angry Atheists trying to get their message across.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Sadness.


    Any additional comments?

    It is saddens me that so many people are hung up on the little things in the Bible that they miss the hole picture about Jesus's message.It is about Loving your neighbor as yourself and loving God. If the New Testament was not true then surely the other letters of the bible would not have small discrepancies in them, because any good author would know that any intelligent person like professor Bart D Ehrmman would point this out to us who are less educated them he is. That we would be enlightened by his Atheistic views. We would quickly abandon our foolish faith and join him in celebrating our freedom of tolerance of all sin. If there is no higher power (God) to be accountable to then who's to say what is right or wrong? Anything goesBecause of those discrepancies one can tell that the four gospels in the New Testament are true. If you had four people that witness a crime their stories will not be the same unless they all got together in corroboration and straitened their stories out. But because the letters were written from different perspective of the authors as to what they (Witnessed)remembered the reliability of the four gospels are more credible in my opinion.

    20 of 118 people found this review helpful
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  • Ed Kingsley
    5/4/14
    Overall
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    "Very informative but loses momentum"
    Would you consider the audio edition of From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity to be better than the print version?

    I have not read the print version but I suspect that some of the courses benefit from being in print


    Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses? Why or why not?

    Yes very much so and I already have many of them on my list


    Any additional comments?

    This course contains many fascinating insights into the early Christian community and is an ideal starting point for the amateur student of the early church. However, about three quarters of the way into the course the emphasis changed from the development of the Christian community in its social and economic context to a very detailed examination of the canon. While a detailed examination of proto-orthodoxy is doubtless essential it seemed to come at the expense of a detailed exposition of the philosophical and social needs that this new religion served in the context of the world that existed at the height of the Roman Empire. The final chapter provides a clumsy end point and I felt that there should have been 4 or 5 more lectures looking in greater detail and demographics and the dialogue between sophisticated pagan philosophies and Christianity,At the very end the speaker seemed to out himself as a person of faith and this seems to have created some blind spots and a certain sense of bias. As it happens I then started another course in this series entitled The fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity By Professor Kenneth Hart and this latter series works as a perfect follow-on to this course. I highly recommend buying them together and listening to this one before Professor Hart's course.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Charlotte Faint
    3/21/15
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    "Easy to listen and learn"

    Really good set of lectures to listen and learn from will listen again soon. Will happily buy next in series.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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