I’m reading Ehrman’s book for seminary and, although I’m not quite done yet, I can tell you that it is outstanding. There’s a reason why this book is the NT textbook for so many 100-level New Testament classes. Highly recommended.
Here are the seven things I’ve learned from reading it.
7 Things I’ve Learned from Bart Ehrman
(In plain English without any edu-babble)
- There are at least three different methods for analyzing the New Testament. None are lame, but the editorial comparative method cuts to the bone by asking “How and why did this author or authors add, delete or change the story?”
- In the 1st and 2nd centuries CE, people were a lot less orthodox and uptight than we are today. Basically, everybody was Hellenized and was grooving on everybody else’s ideas.
- Judaism in the time of Jesus was virtually a Greco-Roman mystery cult. Ever wonder why so many Jews have Greek names, like Stephen and James and such?
- The ancients were fully aware of the huge contradictions between the four gospels but they really didn’t mind all that much.
- The fact that the gospels contained fictional elements and were written by people — not by the hand of God — didn’t bother them all that much either.
- The idea of Christianity as a monolithic thing is silly. There have always been tons of sects. Even the apostles disagreed. Lots.
- The various Christianities of the ancient world can be seen as attempts at interfaith religion. People were trying to reconcile the teachings of Jesus with Judaism, Greco-Roman paganism, Platonic Philosophy, Egyptian mystery cults, Helenistic Buddhism, and the myriad ideas of the period.