In an audiobook that took eight years to research and write, leading Bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman explores how an apocalyptic prophet from the backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for crimes against the state came to be thought of as equal with the one God Almighty Creator of all things.
Ehrman sketches Jesus's transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus's followers had visions of him after his death - alive again - did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God. And what they meant by that was not at all what people mean today.
As a historian - not a believer - Ehrman answers the questions: How did this transformation of Jesus occur? How did he move from being a Jewish prophet to being God? The dramatic shifts throughout history reveal not only why Jesus's followers began to claim he was God, but also how they came to understand this claim in so many different ways.
Written for secular historians of religion and believers alike, How Jesus Became God will engage anyone interested in the historical developments that led to the affirmation at the heart of Christianity: Jesus was, and is, God.
©2014 Bart D. Ehrman (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
"So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth". - Revelation 3:16
'How Jesus Became God' is a good packaging of current scholarship on the historical Jesus for the neophyte. The book basically explores how the crucified Jesus transformed into not just the Messiah, but the Lord of all creation. He examines the exaltation of Jesus from an apocalyptic preacher from Galilee into a figure fully equal with God. He looks at how this type of change happened in Greek and Roman culture, in Jewish culture, and how Paul and later disciples of Christ were influential in transforming their crucified prophet into their risen Lord. He also spends a fair amount of time explaining why it is impossible for historians to validate miracles, a person's divinity or specific religious events like Christ's resurrection.
Perhaps, I was just wishing for a bit more meat on the bones of this book or perhaps I was just not that surprised by many of Ehrman's points (He has covered several sections of this book in previous books about early Christianity and Jesus), but I kinda felt like this was just a watered-down repackaging of some of his better, more academic past efforts. Nothing too revelatory or Earth shattering. For me, it was about the same level of writing as Aslan's Zealot. It just seems these books while aiming for a bit of controversy (controversy sells), don't load their books with enough weight. Those who agree with them have already traveled a bunch of this same ground, those who don't agree with them are served a slim dish that seems a bit too facile. Or maybe it was just me.
The title of the book is arresting: in four words, Bart Ehrman makes the proposition that defies the orthodox beliefs of many Western faithful. Jesus became god but was not at one point god. The argument is well written, and it is based mostly in the few ancient texts still extant, both canonical and non-canonical. The ever evolving christology of Christianity has its beginnings deftly and interestingly analyzed by this writer, who is known for furthering the traditions of the historical-critical interpreters that began in the 18th century. It is a book I would highly recommend.
Then narration, however, leaves much to be desire. The reader seems to be in a hurry to get to the end of the book as fast as he can allowing very little inflection or emotion into his speech. Furthermore, he was not given any given any guidance on pronunciation of theological terms, mispronouncing a lot of them. For example Logos becomes something like locus (reminds me of "hoc meus corpus est" becoming "hocus pocus").
In short, Ehrman's work is well done; the narration is more a mediocrity.
The Book Rev
In the early part of the fourth century in the First Ecumenical Council at Nicaea under Emperor Constantine Orthodoxy (meaning "Right Thinking") was established for the first time in the history of the Christian Church and imposed upon it's members. With the development of "Right Thinking" Heresy (meaning "Choice" and used in the sense of "...you choose to abandon Truth") was defined and outlawed.
But even later under the threat of death (Capital punishment for Heresy was established under two later emperors) this did not stop individuals from daring to seek God and the Bible to understand the Nature of God and His Christ for themselves. Rome was later overthrown by Barbarians from the North who had rejected the Orthodox teachings of the Trinity and who had embraced an "Heretical" teaching that was brought to them by missionaries from the region of Antioch sometime in the second century. Antioch, you may remember, was Paul and Barnabas' center of operations (The Book of the Acts of the Apostles) and for a short time after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. it was the center of the Christian Church.
Heresy was later pronounced dead in the seventh century. It showed up again in the 10th century in the Holy Catholic Church during the Eucharist Controversy and was severally dealt with by the Pope. It was revived in the Reformation and was embraced by many of the "Radical" Reformers.
As late as Isaac Newton (17th century) individual continued to challenge Orthodoxy under the threat of death. Most of our countries founding fathers rejected the imposition of Orthodoxy and set out to establish a land free from religious oppression and they sought freedom to serve and worship God as they saw fit.
Professor Bart Ehrman of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is an Historian, New Testament Textual Critic and Theologian and is the next major scholar to challenge Orthodoxy. This book represents his efforts to understand the scriptures in the light of early christian thought. I do not agree with his Theology but I find his Historical views, his research into the Greek Manuscripts and the insights he brings forward from his understanding of the Greek language to be enlightening. I highly recommend this book.
This book represents Prof Ehrman's personal search for cohesiveness in New Testament revelation. Many of today's scholars see the New Testament books as representative of an evolution of thought and teachings of God and His Christ. They see the Pauline Scriptures as representative of an early or primitive Christology whereas John's Gospel, written about three decades after Paul's letters, representative of a High Christology.
Some will find the challenge to Orthodox teaching a threat and may experience a strong visceral reaction to that challenge. This book represents his search and findings and I believe that we can all be enriched by the questions posed and the historical research represented in this tome.
This is a must for those who seek a further and deeper understanding of the New Testament revelation of God and Jesus Christ. This brings to the level of the average Christian, the non-academic, the discussions and arguments from academia on this vital topic. I do not agree with Prof Ehrman but I appreciate his life's work and I want to benefit as much as possible from it.
I really enjoy Bart Ehrman's books, but I just cannot listed to this guy. He sounds like someone who 1) did not read the book beforehand and 2) is reading off a teleprompter and occasionally doesn't realize that the sentence continues. He also reads very quickly - when I first started listening, I checked my apps speed setting to make sure that I was on 1X.The reading speed is inconsistent and ranges from nearly normal at times to sounding like a cartoon speed-up.
Just about anyone
I will be reading this book on my kindle because I find the subject interesting. Too bad.
I thought my playback speed was set at 1.5x because the narration is so fast. Too fast.
For fans of Ehrman, "Ehrheads", this book covers themes from his lectures and earlier books: contextual criticism, versions the bible etc. with emphasis on the myth and culture at the time Jesus changed from man to a god. 'Compares Roman gods and the continuum from human to divinity and how this process compares to Jesus' ascension.
It can be tedious at times because of its academic nature and detail but if you want to get down to it, this is the real thing explained in his unbiased manner. Stunning thing: Jesus probably wasn't buried.
Sounded like a speed reading robot. Probably one of the worst narrations I've ever heard.
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I like Walter Dixon, and have listened to other performances. But compared to the last one, this one is like he's on an old 45. He's speed reading. (Yes the settings are correct! ).
Letting the rest of the world go by
This book reads like a science book and I kept listening with my full attention. I found myself replaying segments multiple times because I really wanted to know what the author was saying. The author does three things to set up his thesis, he tells the listener 1) how a person would have historically thought about the terms used such as "Son of Man" and "Son of God" at the times of Jesus, 2) how the new testament evolved historically and how thought from 30 to 100 CE evolved, and 3) the way a historian would answer the problem without appealing to the supernatural and would go about understanding the problem.
There are at least four other ways the author could have explained how Jesus became to be thought of as a God and do appeal to the supernatural or are purely speculative 1) assume Jesus had an identical twin and use that to explain the Resurrection, 2) assume ancient astronauts visited Nazareth and gave Jesus powers for which would be seen as indistinguishable from Magic (see Clarke's Third Law), 3) allow for Eternal Recurrence with a time loop to be circumvented after the singularity is created or better yet appeal to Hugh Everett III's parallel universes (see a good time travel story like "Thrice upon a Time, by Hogan and available on Audible or read Nietzsche), or 4) assume the New Testament and the Old Testament are all written directly by God and his inspired agents on earth and the final form of the book is the intended inerrant book.
The author takes the incredibly different perspective to the problem and uses the methodologies of history instead! He answers the problem by not needlessly assuming unnecessary things and by applying Occam's Razor and considers the historical record by looking at the way things are known to have happened historically and not once appealing to the supernatural or assuming inerrancy that is never used anywhere else in the study of history (or for that matter in any known branch of science or anywhere else in life).
I enjoyed this book very much and know that this kind of approach is the only way to study historical events. After having had read this book, it's clear to me that existence preceded essence in this case and the best way to think about the issue is to have realized that "Jesus became God" as the title states.
I really wish this book had been available many years ago. It would have saved me many years of unnecessary thought and would have guided me in my bible studies. A historian will never appeal to the supernatural in order to explain, and he had no need for such explanations to tell his story.
Best: Bart Ehrmans books are always great. Detailed content, well-written.
Worst: performance. The mispronunciations drive me nuts. Example: 'tetragramation' instead of 'tetragramaton'. For my taste, Walter Dixon's narration is a self-conscious, pretentious performance.
For the content, absolutely yes - but only if you can stand the narration.
I wish Bart could read his own books - sigh.
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