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Bart D. Ehrman texts

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Bart D. Ehrman is an American Bible scholar and historian. Ehrman is an agnostic who specializes in textual criticism of the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the origins and development of early Christianity. I have read enough Bible scholars to know that Ehrman writes well but he is also able to distance himself from the subject enough to impart details to the rest of us that other scholars omit. He has written and edited over 30 books, including college textbooks and at least six New York Times bestsellers. This is by far the most complete collection of Ehrman that you will find online. Enjoy!

I will come back shortly to summarize more about why I think you should read him.


After some time immersing oneself in this context proposed by Joseph Atwill one must ponder how gullible are humans...

Hi, thanks for sharing. Did you also look into Acharya's, "Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold"?

This is known more broadly as the Christ myth theory. Such theories interest me but my approach is always mythological anyway so it doesn't alter that fact of belief (even if the facts about what is believed may change). The real conspiracy to me is the almost perfect way in which we are distracted from actually looking internally. The Buddha is in our mind. The alien is in us. But we are never encouraged to think about it that way, are we.

There are so many good works here it is difficult to pick just one. But I recommend "Jesus before the Gospels" for the novel way Ehrman presents his viewpoint. I am excerpting chapters 6 and 7 below:

  • We remember the past because it is relevant to our present, and what we are experiencing in the present radically affects how we remember the past.
  • Early Christian communities were remembering the past because of and in light of their present.
  • There can be no doubt that in many instances their memories were frail or faulty—at least in the historical sense that what they remembered about Jesus was not true to the Jesus who really lived, taught, and died in Roman Palestine.
  • It should be obvious that anyone who thinks Jesus was God in the flesh, fully equal for all time with the Father but become a flesh-and-blood human, will remember Jesus’s life differently from someone who thinks that he was human and only human (but empowered by God) or that he was divine and only divine (in merely the appearance of humanity).

Memory in the Gospel of Mark - Jesus as the Messiah

This appears to be a community that is suffering hardship.

  • It is the first and shortest Gospel
  • Contains mainly biographical details and is written in a narrative style
  • Proclaims view that heaven is a physical place that will come chronologically later to the “saved”
  • Remembered Jesus as the suffering messiah
  • Those who follow Jesus will naturally experience tribulations just as Jesus did and just as he expected them to do
  • Jesus’s followers may be suffering now, but they will be vindicated
  • Jesus is to be the ruler of the Kingdom of God
  • The community’s persecution would earn it a great reward when Jesus returned as the mighty cosmic judge in glory at the end of days, to establish the Kingdom of God in power

Memory in the Gospel of John - Jesus as the “Word of God made flesh”

This appears to be a community that has been excluded from a synagogue

  • Instead of a title and biographical details, it begins with a poem (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”)
  • This understanding of Jesus as the preexistent Word of God who created all things and brought life and enlightenment to the world is far more exalted than anything one can find in the other gospels
  • Jesus was no longer simply a man chosen by God to be his messiah
  • He is a divine figure who revealed God; he was God’s way of communicating to people; he was “the Word of God” who had come from above
  • For this community, ultimate salvation no longer was a future event that was about to happen in this world when the cataclysmic apocalypse hit and the Kingdom of God arrived
  • Mark understood the divine plan in temporal terms that divided this present evil age controlled by the forces opposed to God from the future good age in which God would rule this world in the Kingdom of God
  • John’s community retained a dualistic understanding of the divine plan but it was vertical, not horizontal; spatial, not temporal
  • It wasn’t about now and then; it was about down and up
  • Salvation would not come in the future after the apocalypse hit. It would come in the world above.

Memory in the Gospel of Thomas - the “living Jesus”

This appears to be a group of Christians who may be in conflict with other Christians

  • It is just 114 sayings of Jesus
  • Speaks of Jesus as the “living Jesus”, not as the messiah, or the Son of God, or the Word of God made flesh
  • Salvation comes by understanding the secret teachings of Jesus, not by believing Jesus is the one who has come down from heaven to reveal the truth of the Father
  • Those who understand these hidden teachings “will not taste death.”
  • This world is not portrayed as the good creation of the good God, as in the book of Genesis
  • For Thomas, the great wealth of the spirit has somehow come to be trapped in the poverty of this material world
  • Even more than in the Gospel of John, there is instead to be an escape from this world
  • For the members of this community, salvation is not coming to this world, as it is in the Gospel of Mark
  • This world needs to be transcended and ultimately escaped by knowing the truth and by denying oneself the pleasures of this life through catering to the whims of the body
  • Only by the sacrifice of one’s own pleasures can one find the kingdom
  • The human spirit has come down into this material world from a higher realm of enlightenment
  • Thus we are children of God from the realm of light. We have come to be trapped in this impoverished realm, this corpse of a world.

Memory in the Letters of Paul

  • Paul’s letters say very little at all about Jesus’s life on earth
  • Paul’s letters are interested in only two things: Jesus's death and his resurrection
  • Paul, therefore, does not remember Jesus as a healer, an exorcist, a teacher of parables, or a preacher of the coming kingdom
  • It is Jesus the dying and rising messiah whom Paul speaks about, theologizes about, revels in, and proclaims
  • Those who trust Christ’s death and resurrection will be right with God
  • What mattered was not the Jewish law but Christ alone, the messiah who died and rose again to bring salvation to the world
  • Corollary to this was that Paul’s converts did not need to adhere to the Jewish law and in fact were not to do so.

Memory in the Gospel of Judas

  • One of the most recent Gospels to be discovered, unearthed in Egypt in the 1970s but published for the first time in 2006
  • In this Gospel, Judas alone understood that Jesus did not come from the creator but from a higher divine realm
  • For this reason, Jesus reveals his secrets principally to Judas Iscariot
  • The core of the Gospel is an account of how the divine realm came into existence, and then this material world
  • It is not Jesus’s death and resurrection that matter
  • The Gospel ends at the point at which Judas betrays Jesus
  • Once Jesus dies he will return to the heavenly realm, and those who understand the secret knowledge he conveys will themselves go there for a blessed eternity apart from this material world and the God who created it
  • But not even Judas is able to enter this realm. It is reserved for others, those who fully grasp the truth of Jesus’s mystical and even mind-boggling teachings.

Just want to close the loop on this one...if this topic interests you then you will be curious to see this relationship between Mark and Paul above and Matthew below:

Memory in the Gospel of Matthew

  • Like Paul, the importance of Jesus was that he died for the sake of others and was raised from the dead
  • Unlike Paul, but like Mark, Jesus’s life prior to his death was absolutely crucial
  • Also unlike Paul, Matthew was not opposed to the followers of Jesus (at least gentiles) keeping the Jewish law: Jesus is remembered in Matthew as a Jew who himself perfectly kept that law and insisted that his followers do likewise.