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Publisher's Summary

What different kinds of books are in the New Testament? When, how, and why were they written? And why did some books, and not others, come to be collected into what Christians came to consider the canon of scripture that would define their belief for all time? With these 12 lectures, get a fast-moving yet thorough introduction to these and other key issues in the development of Christianity. Designed to deepen the understanding of both Christians and non-Christians alike, this lecture series takes as its perspective the historical, rather than the theological, issues behind the development of the Bible. And it's an illuminating perspective, indeed, ranging across issues of language, oral history, the physical limitations of spreading the written word at a time when the printing press lay far in the future, and, of course, the theological forces that were shaping Christianity, molding a commonly accepted canon from the various expressions of the faith spreading across the ancient world. Professor Ehrman recreates the context of the times in which the canon was being assembled so that you can understand what the message of each written work would have meant to ancient Christians. You'll come to see how the diverse books of the New Testament were gathered together into the form we now know, whether it's the four canonical Gospels (whose authorship was only attributed by later Christians), the book of Acts, the 21 Epistles, or the book of Revelation (sometimes called the Apocalypse of John).

These lectures are a compelling introduction not only to the development of the Christian canon, but to all of the forces that would play a role in early Christian history.

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

©2005 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2005 The Great Courses

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An Abridged Version of "The New Testament" Course

MAIN POINT: The content should've been more focused on the "making" of the canon as opposed to a quasi-survey of the canon. Ehrman's "The New Testament" course covers almost the same exact material with just a little more detail.
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Ehrman starts the second to last lecture reminding listeners that it was (I'm paraphrasing) a long and detailed history leading up to the selection and discrimination of books. Yes, Bart! That's why I bought your course. I wanted to learn about that part of Christian history in particular. Problem is, he spends an inordinate amount of time (75%) walking listeners through historical discrepancies in the gospels, pseudonymous Pauline epistles, scribal errors, orthodox corruption, conflicting theologies, et cetera. All interesting topics.. WHICH SHOULD BE AND WERE COVERED IN DETAIL DURING 'THE NEW TESTAMENT' COURSE! Direct listeners, if they would like to learn more about those areas, to purchase that course.

This course could've briefly touched on those issues to show there are prior questions one should be asking of the New Testament as well, but it should've focused primarily on particular arguments, detailed interactions with patristic fathers and other "heretics", from the second to fourth centuries, culminating in the Athanasian canon.

Ehrman is a fine scholar of the New Testament and a great expositor of tricky textual and interpretive issues. I've learned a lot from him. But he has particular pet project areas he focuses on, and it seems to dominate his lecturing style. I feel like he is constantly trying to prove the same things over and over again, even when what he's looking to prove doesn't exactly fit the course aim.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Overlap beware

Any additional comments?

This book has too much overlap with other courses by this same lecturer. If you've already heard the others, it's not as good as his lectures on the early Christian church and the ones on the controversies of the Bible. I was hoping for new or more information than what I got in the other lectures.That being said, as a whole, good information. Ehrman is a good lecturer.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • eric
  • Mars, The Solar System, the Milky Way
  • 09-11-13

Very informative

I disagree a bit with the previous reviewer in that although there are iTunes U courses that are excellent, Prof. Ehrman is the top of his field. I very much enjoyed the lecture series, Prof. Ehrman is an excellent lecturer and presents information in a clear and interesting way. I enjoyed this course more than the books, but I prefer to hear history and science in lecture form.
I highly recommend this lecture series if you are interested in the subject. I feel prof. Ehrman presents the subject in a fair and objective light, he is only presenting his academic studies and is not teaching a sermon or ranting against religion.
Thank you

13 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • Wurm
  • Minneapolis, MN, United States
  • 09-25-13

Objective Historical lecture on the New Testament

A scholarly and historical (not devotional) perspective on how the New testament came to exist in its present form. The course is a lecture series given by premier Bible Scholar Bartrand Ehrman. If you're looking for an objective view into the history of the Bible and Christianity, I highly recommend this series.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim Cook
  • Huntersville, NC, United States
  • 10-08-13

Interesting, but not conclusive

What did you like best about The History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon? What did you like least?

I liked the historical context of the lectures and how they detailed the writing of the books in the New Testament.

What I didn't like was that there seemed to be an undertone of doubt about the validity of any of the books. Prof. Ehrman began the lectures by stating that any two texts that were virtually identical in subject, writing style, or account could almost certainly be considered copies of eachother. (he went into a very convincing example in his lecture) He references several corresponding accounts in the gospels that he supposes had to be copied from other resources. Later, though, Ehrman references discrepancies in accounts of the same events in different gospels and uses this as reason to doubt the validity of scripture. I think a reasonable doubt is healthy when digesting any information, but you can't have it both ways. Ehrman is suggesting that similarities in scripture are reason to doubt their validity, and again later suggesting that discrepancies are reason to discredit.

These lectures are written from a historical perspective, not a theologic one. That said, it still seems that the goal of the lectures isn't only to educate about the writing, assembly, and preservation of the New Testament.

Would you ever listen to anything by The Great Courses again?

Possibly

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

Knowledgable, Informative, Biased

Do you think The History of the Bible: The Making of the New Testament Canon needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

I would like to see a point by point rebuttal from a biblical historical perspective. After independently researching many points made in the lectures and finding that they weren't entirely based in fact, I would love to listen to lectures that are based on biblical explanations.

20 of 32 people found this review helpful

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Course didn’t match the title

Insufficient details were covered about the process, who decided what books to include in the canonical bible and why. The reasons for an inclusion or exclusion of certain text should be examined and reasoned to give readers a sense of the intention behind the decisions making process.

The bible is not meant to be a historical text book and to read it or even interpret it from that perspective is entirely right. There are facts, there are gaps and even incongruence content in the bible, but that doesn’t make the bible unbelievable. The bible is a God inspired book written by man who has freewill to act against God. The gaps in the bible are meant to be filled by faith not the intellect. The main message or theme in the bible that is completely consistent is God’s love for humanity and His will to save us from damnation. Words and languages have limits in expressing His will and the complexities involved in salvation history that is still unfolding. Man attempting to postulate God’s intention will inevitably run into issues. The book of Job quite clearly state that we can question and even get angry with God, but we must have faith in order to walk this journey with Him. Because somethings are just beyond our comprehension not because He can not explain to us but there are prerequisite to some knowledge. It’s like if you don’t understand basic maths how can you understand calculus.

However, this course has thought me to question deeper about some aspects of the bible and seek answers to them.

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  • CC
  • 04-19-18

What a read!

These lectures are exactly what Dr. ehrman says, historical and not faith based. I am a practicing member of the LDS church (Mormon) and personally love religious history. This book helped me understand how the New Testament was made and how it came to be. Also reaffirmed my faith in the doctrine of Mormonism. I am fascinated by dr. Ehrmans personal knowledge and enjoy his wit and lecture style. Great series.

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Unreliable

Listening to Ehrman on the canon would be like listening to a flat-earther teach the Copernican revolution.

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Great book!

Need to know for Christians and others interested in the creation of the Holy Bible!

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As Objective As You Could Ask For

Any additional comments?

When looking for early Church history you mostly find one of two things: Church apologists that accept every document they agree with without question, or atheists that reject every document that supports the orthodox view and accept every document that is harmful to the orthodox view. Ehrman does not fall inter either category. Ehrman provides as an objective a historical view as one could ask for. Ehrman lays out the facts as they can best be determined from a historical perspective. Whether you are a Christian or not, if you want a better understanding of how the New Testimate was formed, buy this lecture series.

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  • swheelie
  • 05-28-15

An important and objective overview

Well argued ands=6,9??2÷@@@! clearly delivered. A far bit of overlap with the later book "The historical Jesus" but still enough different content to remain interesting and informative.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • B F.
  • 10-11-16

Great listen

Easy to listen to and riveting topic matter. Very happy I bothered! Loved the whole thing.

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  • The Kinsella Bunch
  • 10-11-16

Excellent Introduction

I love listening to Bart. Great depth, well presented. I'm not sure his audience is Christian as they didn't laugh at any of his jokes bar one and he was left awkwardly having to explain them, which I found amusing and endearing. Either way, highly recommended.

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  • FR THOMAS M ROUSE
  • 03-04-16

A fascinating study

This is a very clear and well researched study into the history of the New Testament. The presentations are appropriately structured and clearly presented. It also whets the appetite for more.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful