The early Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God completely changed the course of Western civilization. What exactly happened, such that Jesus came to be considered God?
To ask this question is to delve into a fascinating, multilayered historical puzzle - one that offers a richly illuminating look into the origins of the Western worldview and the theological underpinnings of our civilization. This fundamental historical question and its complex answer speak penetratingly to the spiritual impulses, concerns, and beliefs that have played a seminal role in our world, even as they reveal the foundation of history’s most global religious movement, and fresh insights into the Western world's single most influential human being.
Tackling all of these matters and more, Great Courses favorite Professor Ehrman returns with the unprecedented historical inquiry of How Jesus Became God. In 24 provocative lectures, Professor Ehrman takes you deep into the process by which the divinity of Jesus was first conceived by his followers, demonstrating how this conception was refined over time to become the core of the Christian theology. A distinguished scholar of Christianity and New York Times best-selling author, Professor Ehrman develops the inquiry with meticulous research and in-depth analysis of texts. In these lectures, Ehrman reveals that the theological understanding of Jesus as God came about through a complex series of factors and events, each of which must be understood in order to grasp this most extraordinary and historically pivotal story.
In the enthralling inquiry of How Jesus Became God Professor Ehrman lays bare the diverse elements that combined to produce both an astonishing true-life story and one of history’s most significant developments. Join a renowned biblical scholar in grappling with this pivot.
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"Go for it!"
I've read a of the author's books and this is a good overview of much of his material. If you're interested in a historical understanding of how our understanding and interpretation of J.C. has come to be this is a great course. I like history and for myself, that is essentially what this course is. If you happen to be an ardent believer, belonging to any of the many forms of Christianity... Well, for one I applaud you for seeking a deeper fact based understanding of your faith. However, for someone who believes the Bible is the direct word of God, and does not want that belief challenged, this may cause some major cognitive dissonance.
I was raised Catholic and this flipped my upbringing upside down. I honestly wonder what most Catholics would say when asked to describe the Son of Man. Most probably would say it was a name for Jesus. Thinking of Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet really changes things.
The lecturer was engaging and well informed. He did end up screaming the whole time, and his tone alone makes me think he has a somewhat biased view against Christianity. He sounded like he was very determined to prove a point and prove his argument. I don't think any of the information presented was necessarily faulty, but his tone certainly didn't sound calm and rational. Not a huge deal.
This is a well written and well researched book. I disagree with the conclusion that Jesus is not God's son and thus part of the Holy Trinity though. I do enjoy hearing other people's ideas so that part was enjoyable. This teacher is a good storyteller as well. My only complaint about the book is that the author seems to use some circular logic - for example early on he goes to some trouble to show that we must accept the gospels as a reliable historical sources then later he goes to some trouble to show why the gospel writers are not reliable.
"Fine scholarship but an off-putting delivery"
No. The text version would be an intriguing read, but the author's delivery is screechy and preachy.
The author's establishment of the concept that few if any 1st-century Jews could have easily accepted the ignominious death of anybody claiming to be the Messiah. This (if true, and he makes a good case) makes it more clear why it took a couple of generations of effort by the resurrectionist Christians to begin to convince potential believers that Jesus' resurrection was perhaps a more valid parameter of God-hood than any other. It also helps the reader to understand why at least some early Christians felt that they had to look outside the ranks of Jews to build the population of believers -- thereby contributing to the development of a more universalist canon of beliefs, and in all likelihood to the later permeation of the church into many diverse cultures. .
His voice is high-pitched and squeaky, his delivery is loud and often over-the-top in tone. He sounds like a backwoods fundamentalist preacher even though what he is saying is basically sound and sober scholarship.This book (and his others on Audible) would be far more influential if it had been delivered by a professional narrator.
Not at all.I couldn't stand to listen to the author's voice for more than a chapter at a time.
This book is very educational and the ideas seem better-based, more grounded in historical evidence, and more seriously reasoned through than other current books about the nature of Jesus' ministry and the establishment of Christianity in the 1st-4th centuries. However it is hard to listen to, and that is sad.
"Learned a Lot About Origins of Christianity"
Yes. There is so much great information in this book that I am definitely going to have to listen to it 2 or 3 times to really absorb what was taught. But I had great retention of the material so it was definitely lots of information given out at a good pace.
Coming from a Catholic background, I had been indoctrinated to the beliefs with no real knowledge of the bible or its origins. In general Catholics do not try to understand their own religion, they just do what they are told and the church generally likes it that way - no annoying "why?" questions to answer from their congregation. This is what really turned me off to my religious upbringing.
This lecture series helped me really understand the New Testamate and where it came from. The author is very careful to separate out what we know from what we believe to be true and why. He does a great job explaining the origins of many of the books of the New Testamate as well. And you get a really good feel for the people and their thinking during the first four centuries after Jesus's death.
I did get a little of a sense for the lecturer's opinion of what he believes to be true but it was so faint that I am not entirely sure. He worked hard to keep his beliefs out of the discussion and just lay out the facts of what religious scholars know, what they THINK they know and why they see it that way.
I will definitely be looking for more lectures by this author. I am finally getting a grasp on the religion I was brought up with and gaining a deeper understanding of the roots of a religion that drives a very large portion of thought in today's world.
"History Not Theology"
2000 years is a long time. What do we really know about Jesus? And how did what we think we know come to be constructed? Ehrman makes the case that Jesus' resurrection is possibly the most significant historical event of modern times. What really happened? If you wonder, if you like having new facts and opinions about things you have always taken for granted, then this course is for you.
I've read or listened to a couple of Professor Ehrman's books and courses on early Christianity, so worried that this would be too repetitious, but there was plenty of new ideas and facts to keep me amazed.
"Good, but a bit repetitive"
I would recommend the author, but probably not this particular book if my friend had read or heard any of Ehrman's previous books/lectures. Unfortunately, there isn't all that much that is new in this lecture series that he hasn't already said in his previous work. For new Ehrman listeners it is good, though not his best work.
Any of Ehrmans other works. His Historical Jesus work is very good, as is Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted. If you are interested in early Christian history then I think his "From Jesus to Constantine" is a good bet.
Well you can feel his passion and enthusiasm coming through. I think he would be a very good lecturer in person, though he is not a brilliant orator.
"Argument Is Not History"
I would recommend this book to a mature friend with the time to investigate more deeply. The book consists of numerous assertions by a presumed authority, relying on ancient texts. It is therefore easy to buy into bold but poorly supported assertions.
Unlikely. I am rather put off by the Professor's personal agenda.
The performance could have been improved by a more balanced presentation of views, and by a less strident argumentative tone. I felt at times that Dr. Ehrman could relax his voice a bit.
The presentation compelled me to look more deeply into the scriptures and history of the time, and to reflect on assumptions I may have made without deep examination. Having done so, I am more convinced, not less, that Jesus was unique in history of the world because of who he was, not because of what others wanted him to be. Were it merely a matter of wishful thinking, as Erhman suggests, the story of Jesus would have simply disappeared. But his followers saw and believed, and because they saw, they were even ready to die for what they knew to be true.
Dr. Erhman refers to Simon ben Kosiba early in the presentation as a messiah claimant living not long after Jesus who exhibited many of the same indicators of divinity that Jesus possessed. Having set up a list of messiah-like actions, including the performing of miracles, Erhman then dramatically identifies the messiah claimant not as Jesus, but as a messiah contender, presumably Simon ben Kosiba, the only other Jewish identified self-proclaimed Messiah of the time. The problem is that the depiction is false and the parallels greatly overdrawn. Simon ben Kosiba was a militant, with a political agenda, and who's so-called miracles were not as recorded or numerous as those of the Christ. In another distortion, Dr. Erhman states that Jesus was also a political rebel with a political purpose, and killed for political reasons. This is simply false. The consistent message of all the sources is that Jesus renounced and denied a political kingdom. Jesus himself stated his Kingdom was not of this world, and he explicitly renounced the use of force.
"An excellent course."
This course addresses the topic that the professor's book covers extensively:
Either the book or the course will serve you well in learning how Jesus of Nazareth came to be known as God himself. The course is narrated by professor Ehrman who is a proficient orator. Either medium is highly recommended.
It's the best lecture I have heard.
There is no comparison.
He was very objective and unbiased.
No, it was a lecture.
This is an excellent lecture from a historical perspective on how Christianity developed, and evolved. This is not a fundamental view, but a historical view.
"Excellent exposition of Christian doctrine"
Really enjoyed this. Essential companion for anyone reading the New Testament who wants to know how it came to be.
Excellent, clear and comprehensive handling of the subject. Highly recommend.
Erhman demonstrates why he is such a well respected biblical scholar and expert on the historicity of Jesus.
"Another fantastic Ehrman course"
This is my third of the Great Courses given by Professor Ehrman and it continues at the same level -- absolutely first rate. Both the lecturing style and the material made me want to keep listening. This course covers both the period around Jesus' life and subsequent developments in Christianity over the next few centuries. A detailed summary of the content, including titles of each lecture, can be found on the Great Courses web site. For me it provided a highly revealing account of this key period in Christian history and I highly recommend it.
"Eye opening stuff"
Clear, very authoritative with a powerful message. His personal journey from ultra conservative fundamentalist to agnostic is very interesting too.
How many animals is Jesus riding when he enters Jerusalem?
Yes, but very long.
He has a slightly hectoring style, which give away his Texas preacher roots. It's fine and engaging for a while but after a couple of hours you feel like a break. There's only so much zeal and gusto one can take! Nevertheless, an engaging speaker who clearly knows his subject inside out.
Great theological and historical content applied. Narration is not word perfect but has a engaging tone.
I am not a theologian but I do have an honours degree in History and have had some training and experience in sources and analysis. As a non-expert, I found the author's arguments tenuous at best and unconvincing generally.
He comes across as trying to fit facts to his theory and he struggles. From what I can gather Dr Ehrman is a rather eccentric academic and not widely accepted by his peers. Well what's new; academics fight! However I was disappointed by the lack of depth and the real effort he seems to make in selection of facts and their interpretation to suit.
I found the book disappointing for these reasons. I know there are a number of academic critiques of Dr Ehrman's work which have found his work wanting so I suppose if you buy this and give it a listen you owe it to yourself to give them a hearing too.
I enjoy his natural presentation and he has a pleasant speaking voice
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