How Jesus Became God

The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee
Narrated by: Walter Dixon
Length: 10 hrs and 35 mins
Categories: History, Ancient History
4.5 out of 5 stars (726 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

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    4 out of 5 stars
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How Jesus changed from the 1st the 4th Century A.D

In "How Jesus Became God" Prof. Bart D. Ehrman tackles the question of how Jesus became to be thought of as God from a historical perspective. In many ways this book draws and summarizes a lot of his research on the New Testament thus far.

Ehrman's book consists out of 9 chapters and an epilogue. In the first two chapters he sets the scene, helping the listener to come to grips with how divinity was seen in the ancient world. First he discusses divine humans in Ancient Greece and Rome, where after he focuses on Ancient Judaism's views of these beings. I think this might be of much interest to someone that are not familiar with the ancient milieu in which Christianity was born. In chapter 3 he discusses the question if Jesus thought of himself as God. He answers in the negative and gives some reasons based on his (and probably most other critical scholars') understanding of the Historical Jesus. In chapters 4 and 5 he tackles Jesus' resurrection stating first what can be known about it historically and then indicating what cannot be known. He makes a case out that Jesus' body was not buried in a tomb and that the "tomb"-tradition was later apologetic Christian tradition. As the listener you will have to decide if he is convincing or not. Chapters 6 and 7 deals with how early Christians during and before the New Testament perceived Jesus to be divine. The issue of when Jesus became divine also comes into play. In chapters 8 and 9 his focus shifts to the time after the New Testament was written until the 4th century. He discusses what would be called in a Theological class the History of Dogma. Here he draws a lot on his book "Lost Christianities" in these chapters, reflecting on the various types of "Christianities" and how it defined Jesus in the eyes' of these communities.

I think it is quite an important book. Ehrman once again successfully made scholarship available to untrained individuals. I don't think that this book should shake a Christian's faith. It might though.

Walter Dixon is an old hand at reading Ehrman's book. I am currently quite accustomed to his voice. It is clear and to the point.

If you are interested in how Jesus became divine, this book might just be for you. If you want something that will affirm your faith, this might not be the book for you. Be this as it may, this book contains some interesting facts. It makes it worthwhile to listen. Ehrman has mastered the skill to communicate properly. Listen to it, and decide for yourself.

17 people found this helpful

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Did not like the narrator

This book goes deep in theology, it provides tremendous insight and detail. The narrator is very clear spoken but his voice reminds me of text to speech (computer reading) and he reads quite fast. After the first couple chapters I changed the playback speed to 90%, it made listening tolerable but I'm left feeling I would have absorbed a lot more with a different narrator.

8 people found this helpful

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Wishing for a bit more meat on the bones

"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.

34 people found this helpful

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Jesus wasn't the only man to become a god.

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.

9 people found this helpful

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What's the rush?

The reader's pace is unnecessarily fast. Was the studio on fire? Unfortunate production mistake I hope.

13 people found this helpful

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Speed reading and lack of inflection has ruined it

Would you try another book from Bart D. Ehrman and/or Walter Dixon?

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.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Walter Dixon?

Just about anyone

Any additional comments?

I will be reading this book on my kindle because I find the subject interesting. Too bad.

13 people found this helpful

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Monotone Excitement

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.

13 people found this helpful

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Awful performance but fantastic content

What did you like best about How Jesus Became God? What did you like least?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

N/A

How did the narrator detract from the book?

See above.

Was How Jesus Became God worth the listening time?

For the content, absolutely yes - but only if you can stand the narration.

Any additional comments?

I wish Bart could read his own books - sigh.

7 people found this helpful

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An Unorthodox Look at Jesuis Christ

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

12 people found this helpful

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Starts slow but ends well

Starts slow with explaining the research methodology, but ends with good references supporting the theme.

1 person found this helpful