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A New Phase for My Book

Today I’ve started the next phase on my book, How Jesus Became God, and as I was thinking about it earlier, I realized that this is probably my favorite phase.  Writing a book involves a lot of different tasks, and different authors enjoy different ones of them more than others.   Until just now I had never quite mapped it out like this, but now that I have, I’ve realized that I go through four main tasks (each of which is subdivided into different elements):  reading, thinking, organizing, and writing.

Reading and thinking usually go on at the same time.   I usually conceptualize what a project will be and then start thinking about how I will approach it and what I will need to cover.  That tells me what I need to read.   And so I read everything of relevance to what I want to do.   This is definitely the learning phase of a project, and it gives me the chance to read tons and tons of things that I’ve known about but never had the opportunity or need to read before, a chance to read tons of things that I’ve read before and want and need to read again, and a chance to read tons and tons of other things that I didn’t know existed but that I find out about en route.   New Testament/Early Christian studies is like any field of serious intellectual inquiry.  The scholarship is massive – both the hard-core scholarship that is written for scholars and presupposes a deep knowledge of scholarship and the more accessible scholarship that is written for a wider audience, either a wider group of scholars/intellectuals or a wider reading public outside the realm of scholars.  No one can possibly master it all.

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Anecdotes in Trade Books
“Human” Appearances of God in the Old Testament



  1. Avatar
    toddfrederick  March 13, 2013

    Thank you for allowing us to peak into your mind and method of research and writing your books, especially those of us who are not scholars. I do hope some new insights will pop up in your current project, and may help give us, and those especially who are not inclined to accept critical scholarship, take a new look at the person of Jesus. I look forward to the publication of this project.

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    Yentyl  March 13, 2013

    Very nice! Israel! Have an awesome time!

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    kidlat  March 13, 2013

    Maybe you should include a chapter on “How Mary became *Mother of God*”. I’ve met many Catholics who are more Marian than Christian.

    Good Luck!

    • Avatar
      dennis  March 24, 2013

      Excellent suggestion . Many of the members appear to be ex-evangelicals who are unaware of the just how strong ” Marianology ” is in Catholicism .

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    Dennis  March 13, 2013

    I hope there’s loads of references in order to present this as evidence for my theological friends.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 13, 2013

      I always debate whether to load up the notes or to keep it simple. Tough call!

      • Avatar
        nichael  March 13, 2013

        Here’s one vote for as many footnotes (or, more likely, endnotes) as is feasible. For, those of us who are interested –and willing to put in the effort– these are a marvelous, not to say essential, resource. And for those readers who aren’t interested, they’re free to skip any such notes.

        OTOH, if it’s not feasible to include such notes in the book (for example, resistance from the publisher) there’s always the option putting the notes on-line.

        • Avatar
          Adam0685  March 16, 2013

          Extensive footnotes in a trade book aren’t necessary. There are many other more technical books on the subject one can go to for all the technical issues…

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    brandyrose  March 13, 2013

    Can you tell us more about that? Or did I miss it? What will you be doing in Israel?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 13, 2013

      Not much to tell really. I’m giving lectures for a UNC General Alumni tour. Should be great fun, though. My wife Sarah has never been to Israel and she’ll be able to go along; I’ve wanted her to see the place for years. We’ll spend about half our time in the Galilee and about half in Jerusalem, with day trips to places like Masada and Qumran — always highlights. And probably take a swim in the Dead Sea, which is always amazing. You absolutely can *not* sink. People lie on their backs reading newspapers in it!

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    RonaldTaska  March 13, 2013

    I am really looking forward to reading your book about how and why Jesus became God. I also want to add something about “agnostics with a moral compass.” It really looks to me like you have been strongly influenced by Christian ethics, I see this in the following ways:
    1. Your blog helps educate a lot of us.
    2. You are very interested in the true history of Christianity and pursue this with much passion. Actually, you pursue this with much more passion than most of those who claim to be Christian.
    3 Your blog raises money for the poor
    4. You generously and kindly respond to all sorts of comments.
    5. You are helping rescue the Bible from the literalists.
    6. You continue to modify your views as you learn more.
    Hence, aren’t you really a “Christian in exile” or a Thomas Jefferson type of Christian? The literalists do not have sole possession of Christianity.

    • Avatar
      Adam0685  March 13, 2013

      Most in the West have been influenced by Christian ethics. But compassion, kindness, and altruism are not exclusive to Christianity of course

    • Avatar
      Deaconess  March 15, 2013


  7. Avatar
    hwl  March 15, 2013

    Do trade books go through a peer-review process?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 15, 2013

      Not in the same way as scholarly books. They usually are not read by fellow-scholars and evaluated as to their scholarly merit. Publishers *do* sometimes send them to scholars for their opinions, but there’s not the same kind of rigor as with scholarly monographs. With some presses there is a greater concern for packaging than content; other presses tend to publish trade books only with established scholars. But I dn’t recall any of my trade books ever being vetted the way my scholarly books are.

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    FrankBrierton  March 17, 2013

    Good evening! I am new, and it is a pleasure to go through your blog, and to actually communicate with you.
    You stated above: “…I write very fast, both because I actually can physically type fast and because I already know almost exactly what I want to say, since I have such massive outlines….” Have you ever tried voice recognition software? I find it especially useful writing from notes or from a book, eliminating the need to look back and forth at what I am reading and then writing or typing. Plus, you could walk around your office, and just talk your thoughts.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  March 18, 2013

      Yeah, I’ve thought about it. But I enjoy so much creating sentences through my fingers, that I don’t think it’s ever gonna happen.

      • Avatar
        FrankBrierton  March 21, 2013

        Understood. Thank you for the response.

      • Avatar
        FrankBrierton  March 23, 2013

        After some more thought, just to beat a dead horse, I now can not agree with you more. When I was young(er) and studying the left brain vrs right brain – I remember learning that my thoughts went directly from my left brain to my right hand allowing me to write with fluent speed, whereas speaking required right brain activity involving my lips and speaking – adding a step and slowing the process (altho’ later reading the writing out loud was easier). Hopefully I remember that somewhat correctly.
        Anyway, I must assume that works the same for typing also – if you are a decent typist.
        Voice Recognition really works when I am entering info from a written source as in a book, vrs ‘thinking’. I can just read it out loud and let the machine type it, without looking back and forth from book to screen.. Different scenario.

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    charlesb  March 18, 2013

    After reading many of your and other’s books about the many Christian groups that lost out to the “Orthodox” point of view, I wondered just how did Jesus become God? What happened in the days, weeks and months after his death that lead to the beginnings of Christianity? Thank you for writing it. I look forward to reading it.

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