Early Christian beliefs and texts; Gnosticism;
Lost Christianities and Christian Scriptures:
Books by Bart D. Ehrman.
God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer our Most Important Question — Why We Suffer
The least gripping of the books (read so far) by
possibly because it centers on the single philosophical point of suffering in the world
and how this lead theologist
Bart D. Ehrman
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication
(24 half-hour lectures.)
- The Diversity of Early Christianity: Second and third century beliefs, up to the
Council of Nicea.
- Christians Who Would Be Jews:
- Christians Who Refuse To Be Jews:
Christianity - Our Sources.
- Early Christian Gnosticism - An Overview.
Gospel of Truth.
Ptolomy's Letter to Flora
the Treatise on the Resurrection.
- The Coptic
Gospel of Thomas.
- Infancy Gospels.
Gospel of Peter.
Secret Gospel of Mark.
- The Acts of John.
- The Acts of Thomas.
- The Acts of Paul and Thecla.
- Forgeries in the Name of Paul.
- The Epistle of Barnabas.
- The Apocalypse of John.
- The Rise of Early Christian
- Beginnings of the
- Formation of the New Testament
- Interpretation of Scripture.
Corruption of Scripture.
- Early Christian Creeds.
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions of the Bible
(and Why We Don't Know Them) (2009)
A thoughtful and scholarly introduction to the methods and findings of historical criticism of the Bible.
- A Historical Assault on Faith.
Introduces the value of historical criticism and a historical (contrasted with devotional)
study of the Bible.
- A World of Contradictions.
"some of the important and interesting discrepancies of the Bible that emerge when it is examined
from a historical perspective" [p.19]
"one should always know what the data are before deciding too quickly what the data mean" [p.20].
Discrepancies are clear between New Testament versions of various stories.
There is conflicting testimony.
- A Mass of Variant Views.
"The lesson that I have found most difficult to convey to students
the lesson that is the hardest to convince them of
is the historical-critical claim that each author of the Bible needs to be allowed to have his own say,
since in many instances what one author has to say on a subject is not what another says" [pp.98-99].
- Who Wrote the Bible?
"Students taking a college-level Bible course for the first time often find it
surprising that we don't know who wrote most of the books of the New Testament." [p.101].
"Of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament, only eight almost certainly were written
by the authors to whom they are traditionally ascribed: the seven undisputed letters of Paul
and the Revelation of John, which could be claimed to be homonymous, since it does not
claim to be written by any particular John" [p.136].
- Liar, Lunatic, or Lord? Finding the Historical Jesus.
The historians can resolve little here:
"Historians can only establish what probably happened in the past,
and by definition, miracles are the least probably of occurrences" [p.179].
- How We Got the Bible.
Among the various sects of early Christianity,
"who, really was right? The formation of the canon [the 27 books of the New Testament]
is in some sense a movement to decide that issue.
The final decision was not a fore-gone conclusion.
But eventually, by the beginning of the fourth century, the options were narrowed in proto-orthodox circles;
somewhat later there were no options at all.
... one canon of Scripture finally emerged, centuries after the process began" [p.223].
- Who Invented Christianity?
"For most Christians [worldwide as opposed to just in the USA],
Christianity is about believing in Christ and worshipping God through him.
It is not about belief in the Bible.
In traditional Christianity the Bible itself has never been an object of faith" [p.227]
... until now.
"In many ways, what became Christianity represents a series
of rather important departures from the teachings of Jesus.
Christianity, as has long been recognized by critical historians,
is the religion about Jesus,
not the religion of Jesus" [p.267].
"The ultimate emergence of the Christian religion represents a human intervention" [p.268].
- Is Faith Possible?
"People need to use their intelligence to evaluate
what they find to be true and untrue in the Bible.
Everything we hear and see we need to evaluate
whether the inspiring writings of the Bible or the inspiring writings of
Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, or George Eliot,
of Ghandi, Desmond Tutu, or the Dalai Lama" [pp.281-282].
"Then why study the Bible?
The Bible is the most important book in the history of Western civilization.
It is the most widely purchased, the most thoroughly studied,
the most highly revered, and the most completely misunderstood book
ever! Why wouldn't I want to study it?" [p.282].
The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: a New Look at Betrayer and Betrayed
Possibly the best of his books in terms of helping the lay reader understand how
the New Testament, including the images of Judas,
was shaped to match doctrine.
Misquoting Jesus: the Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why
Reviews the manuscript sources of the Christian New Testament scriptures from:
- From 2nd to 7th centuries: Greek manuscripts on papyrus.
- From 4th to 9th centuries: manuscripts on vellum in majuscule (large letters that approximate printing).
- From 9th century on: manuscripts on vellum in minuscule (small letters that approximate cursive).
- Various lectionaries: minuscule readings from the New Testament
[whereas the bullets above refer to whole books from the New Testament].
Even if God inspired the original words [of the Bible],
we don't have the original words.
If He [God] hadn't gone to the trouble of preserving those original words,
it is less likely that He had inspired those original words.
Meaning is not inherent in the text.
Texts don't speak for themselves [but each person
makes one's own interpretation].