Bart Ehrman’s new portrayal of Jesus is surprisingly sympathetic

Print More
RNS photo courtesy Rev. Lawrence Lew/Flickr

RNS photo courtesy Rev. Lawrence Lew/Flickr

Active RNS subscribers and members can view this content by logging-in here.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (RNS) As Christians prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, Bart Ehrman, an agnostic, convincingly demonstrates there was a historical Jesus. As for the "mythicists" who argue otherwise -- many of them his biggest fans -- Ehrman has some choice words: "sensationalist," "wrongheaded" and "amateurish." By Yonat Shimron.

  • gilhow

    I’m anxious to see for thoroughly Ehrman documents his claims about Jesus’ certain historicity. There is lots of debate about all this, and since the Jewish scriptures and then the later stories about Jesus followed so closely upon the mythological origins of religion as we know it, a lot of reliable documentation would be needed to support the historical certainty of the man Jesus. Even after that might be done, it is a very long leap of faith to move from a historical Jesus to divinity.

    I knew a great organist who worked for a very large and wealthy Methodist church. He admitted that he did his church work because there wasn’t much other worthwhile employment for a teaching organist, no matter how good he might be. But he didn’t accept much of Christian “dogma.” He said the Trinity gave him the most trouble. The mathematics of the claim was more than he could compute. One might say, as the Trinity goes, so goes Christianity.

  • gilhow

    Of course, that leaves us, along with Bart Ehrman in agnosticism at least.

  • David McElroy

    About the scant 1st century archeological evidence for Christ : Many seem to forget the Sanhedrin was sending agents out to destroy Christians, their writings and artifacts. The Jews were rabid too eradicate any trace of Jesus’ ministry, trial and crucifixion. Then the Romans totally destroyed Jerusalem, reducing it to rubble. Caesar was no friend of Christ either, seeing he was deemed a god and Christ refused to worship him. With literacy not being prevalent, there wasn’t that much literature to begin with in the early years of the church. Enemies and time destroyed much of that. But there is ample historical evidence of that century to prove Jesus did exist, and was tried in Pilate’s Roman court. Roman historian and senator Tacitus wrote of the trial of Jesus, for one. At least Ehrman is trying to be honest with history if not actually embracing Jesus Christ as the Son of God, his Lord and Savior.

  • baronsabato

    @gilhow: Mr. Ehrman covers the material very well and shows that much of the so-called “parallels” is exaggerated at best- but none of this is surprising, as any amateur examination of the actual mythologies would show.

    Also, considering that you have Jesus Only Pentecostals, Unitarian Christians, liberal Christians who do not outright deny the Trinity but consider it a metaphor, and a whole range of religious people who would consider themselves Christians but do not accept the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity (in fact, I would say that very, very few Christians I know have a truly orthodox understanding of the Trinity, and most fall within any number of ancient heretical positions)… the Trinity is hardly necessary for one to consider themselves a Christian.