What do the writings of the New Testament tell us about each of these key followers of Christ? What legends have sprung up about them in the centuries after their deaths? Was Paul bow-legged and bald? Was Peter crucified upside down? Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? In this lively work, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, presenting complicated historical issues in a clear and informative way and relating vivid anecdotes culled from the traditions of these three followers. He notes, for instance, that historians are able to say with virtual certainty that Mary, the follower of Jesus, was from the fishing village of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee; but there is no evidence to suggest that she was a prostitute, and little reason to think that she was married to Jesus.
Vibrantly written and leavened with many colorful stories, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene will appeal to anyone curious about the early Christian church and the lives of these important figures.
©2006 Bart D. Ehrman; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.
"Uncompromising in its scholarship yet utterly engaging." (Publishers Weekly)
"Terrific....Ehrman presents his case clearly and succinctly." (Publishers Weekly)
I love the writing of this american theologian. He frequently uses a witty tone to lighten what could be heavy material. He is able to present a wealth of information in a scholarly fashion and yet he never makes you feel you are listening to a lecture. It always seems more like a good story. I'm looking forward to his next book.
Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.
The first part of this book, on Peter, did not excite me, but the last two parts, on Paul and Mary Magdalene were enthralling. Having read numerous studies of the New Testament, I am no beginner but I still found myself learning a lot from this scholarly but user-friendly discussion. I plan to listen to the book again after I finish the book I bought immediately after hearing this one---another one by Ehrman. I want to hear more of what he has to say as I find that he has done his homework (he translated the New Testament himself from the old documents) and his judgment is fair.
I have read Professor Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus, Jesus Interrupted and God's Problem, and I noticed that the scholarship underlining all the books tends to overlap. So, the contend of all books overlaps significantly too with emphasis on one aspect or the other, but without many new scholarship. Which is fair enough, (you don't expect an academic to give you brand new research everytime he/she write a book.) The information in this book is solid enough, and I am satisfied with it, and the argument it makes is sound enough as well as convincing, but if you have read his other books, don't expect too many new research.
As with any Ehrman book, there is a large amount of content overlap with previous works. This book however, does do an excellent job of sticking to its the three core figures and rarely ventures far off topic. As usual, Ehrman approaches the subject matter from a strictly historical point of view, with an emphasis on who these people really were and what they most likely really said, at the same time remembering the importance of how history and its writers remembered or 'chose to remember' these three key figures of the New Testament.
Readers who are unfamiliar with Christian Apocryphal, noncanonical and Deuterocanonical books & scripture might be put off a bit since Ehrman uses these as sources for much of the content and analysis presented - though this book could serve as an interesting introduction to some of the contents of these scriptural writings and why they are no longer considered canon by many Christian institutions. This may also present a problem for readers who want to sit back with their Bible and read along.
The narration and presentation is excellent, though a little bland at times.
After listening to "Misquoting Jesus" (by the same author), I decided to get this audiobook. Much to my disappointment, Mr. Ehrman repeats basically everything he said in that book literally word by word! He did not even bother re-phrasing his ideas; it feels like a "cut & paste" job...
He does, however, give some new information on the lives and works of Peter and Paul but sometimes he is so "re-iterative" (i.e repetitive) that one feels compelled to skip entire chapters.
Now, regarding Mary Magdalene, he basically focuses not on WHO she was but on who she was NOT. He actually spends more time in describing the beliefs and practices of the various forms of early christianity than in describing the Magdalene herself.
His conclusion is somehow contradictory for on the one hand he claims that, since the Gospels speak so little about her, she must have been someone who bore little importance in Jesus's life and ministry; or at least not more than any of the other women that are also mentioned in the New Testament.
But on the other hand, he claims that had it not been for the Magdalene's discovery of Jesus's empty tomb, Christianity might have evolved very differently, for she was the one who encouraged the Apostles to start spreading the Good News after she had witnessed the miraculous resurrection of her Lord.
In conclusion, if you have already read "Misquoting Jesus", you do not need to buy this book, unless you want a more specific focus on the lives and works of Peter and Paul. But if what you want instead is more information about the Magdalene, then look elsewhere...
The bible comes alive when you can take all of the different religions out of it and really look at the books. This is a great listen, be prepared to learn.
Professor Ehrman expands on the history of these three figures from early Christianity, an excellent complement to his previous book, _Truth and Fiction in The DaVinci Code_. Meticulously researched and (in the case of the New Testament scriptures) translated by Ehrman himself.
The tie-ins at the beginning and end with Peter, Paul & Mary, the folk group from our era, are very humorous and appropos.
Mr. Gardner delivered a superb performance.
Retired Clergy. PhD in Comparative Religion. Enjoying retirement of golf, motorcycling, model railroading, gardening, and reading.
I'm an Ehrman fan, and found this to be as refreshing and freeing as the rest of his books. I recommend it to those who are sick and tired of the same old religious cliche ridden looks at Christian scriptures. Thank goodness for this writer's honest scholarship and humorous approach. I'm certain the bulk of modern "Christians" would find this a threatening and heretical study, but in fact it is wonderfully freeing. I worthy read!
An intelligent work that doesn't profess to have all the answers, nor does he criticise other viewpoints such as found in films or current novels. He explains the fallacies of religious and historical accounts in the context of their times, not an easy thing to do for most writers. Grover Gardner is one of my favorite readers, a bonus when listening to this book.
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