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Cover Stories on Jesus

Apologies to all for being “off” the blog for a couple of days. I’ve been in D.C. getting ready and primed for a new course that I’ll be doing with the Great Courses; it will be an audio course (no video for this one) called “The Greatest Controversies in Early Christianity,” where I deal with some hot topics, including two that I’ve been hitting here on the blog lately (Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem? And Was Jesus’ Mother a Virgin?), and others I haven’t (Was Paul the Real Founder of Christianity? Did the Jews Kill Jesus? Did Constantine Decide Which Books Would Be in the New Testament? Etc.) – 24 lectures altogether. I’ll be taping in February. (Now that I’ve thought about it, I think every lecture could be given with one word: No!)

And while I was in D.C. – just yesterday – I learned that a story I wrote for Newsweek on the birth of Jesus was made the cover story this week. It’s kind of a goofy cover, but hey, I had nothing to do with that! The issue is now available. Get ‘em while they’re hot.

I’ll get back to the birth narratives in my next posts, but for now, I want to reflect for a second on the cover story of a news magazine. I never realized it before getting involved with that (very strange) world, although it makes good sense once you think about it, but they really can’t decide on what goes on the cover until the very last second, in case something really BIG happens. As I found out in a very amusing way nine years ago at this time.

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Responses to my Newsweek Article
An Agnostic Reflects on Christmas

29

Comments

  1. Avatar
    AmenRa  December 11, 2012

    Dr. Ehrman are you familiar with any scholarship whereby higher critical interpretive and source criticism is applied to the story of the prophet Muhammad and the Koran? There seems to me to be a great deal of questioning on the historicity of Jesus and other biblical narratives, but not so much on Islam for the public to read. It appears a little discriminatory. I personally think that all the Abrahamic religions are connected and in their fundamentalist forms are dangerous.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  December 12, 2012

      Not such as happens with the Hebrew Bible or New Testament, but there is some. I’m not intimately familiar with it though.

  2. Avatar
    Adam  December 11, 2012

    Congrats!! That’s huge that your article was put on the cover of Newsweek! I hope people who read your article buy your books!!

  3. Avatar
    Jdavis3927  December 11, 2012

    Hey Bart,

    I am actually on my third set of lectures by you from, “Great Courses” I have really been enjoying them. I believe I found out about them from my face book page, so whoever thought of that did a good job. I will be looking for your new lectures.

  4. Avatar
    maxhirez  December 11, 2012

    Will this TTC series be in front of an audience? You can usually kind of hear them (like when you tell the “I am divine, you are de-branches” joke.). How does someone get in on a live taping like that? Not that I could get to DC…

  5. Avatar
    FrancisDunn  December 12, 2012

    The film maker and book author, also called the Naked Archeologist, Simcha Jacobovici, had a film on a possible birth place as being the basement area of a house. The animals were kept in the basement areas of homes in that time. I enjoyed the article in Newsweek.

  6. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  December 12, 2012

    I have listened to all of your Teaching Company tapes and have found all of them to be extremely helpful. I am looking forward to this new one. It sounds really interesting.

  7. Avatar
    Jim  December 12, 2012

    I’m essentially a fundamentalist KJV bible-thumping Christian however, after listening to Albert Mohler’s synopsis of your Dec 11 Newsweek article maybe I should consider looking into becoming an agnostic in the near future. Somehow the classical apologetics approach is beginning to give me inflammatory bowel syndrome.

  8. Avatar
    Mikail78  December 12, 2012

    Hey Bart, when you were in D.C., by any chance did you get around to telling those dirtbag politicians to do their damn job? 🙂

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  December 12, 2012

      Yes, some interesting days are ahead of us. I just hope they’re not TOO interesting.

  9. Avatar
    Walid_  December 12, 2012

    I wanted so much to read the third part, but the article made it up for me, it’s on the net and it’s wonderful.
    thanks Dr Ehrman

  10. Avatar
    DMiller5842  December 12, 2012

    AWESOME!

  11. Avatar
    Christian  December 12, 2012

    Congratulations! Interesting anecdote too.

  12. Avatar
    amorfati  December 12, 2012

    Your current article and upcoming TGC course are excellent additions to your vast body of scholarship, Bart!

    We are very fortunate that you have made your education and continuing evolution of thought so accessible to us.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

    1
  13. Avatar
    Dennis  December 13, 2012

    I don’t know how you can handle the crtiticism. I read some of those newsweek comments. That would drive me crazy.

  14. Avatar
    jimmo  December 13, 2012

    A new course??? I can’t wait!

  15. Avatar
    donmax  December 13, 2012

    Bart,
    I could not help but notice that you slipped a somewhat loaded question into your list of Hot Topics above. Can’t quite see how the birthplace of Jesus (or his mother’s virginity, for that matter) measures up to the preeminence of Paul in producing European Christianity. Of course, the way you phase it makes the answer obvious. But his influence, historically and theologically speaking, is second to none when it comes to building and selling his own Christ-centered religion. What he saw and what he said and what he did influenced the formation, not only of the New Testament, including the gospels, but the anti-Semitism that became so integral to later Christian orthodoxy. In that sense, I agree with James Tabor that Saint Paul was probably the most influential man in Western Civilization.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  December 13, 2012

      Yes, I will be arguing in my lecture that the importance that is often assigned to Paul is both understandable and overdone. Paul didn’t *invent* many of his key ideas (e.g., that it’s the death and resurrection of Christ that matter, and that a person is made right with God through that death and resurrection, not through the Law). He inherited them from now-unknown predecessors. As he himself indicates!

      • Avatar
        donmax  December 14, 2012

        I buy the fact that his “assigned importance” is understandable, because he is uniquely important, but if and to what extent it has been “overdone” is debatable. He didn’t “invent many of his key ideas” any more than Jesus didn’t or that other giants of history didn’t. Each was a product of his times, his culture, his DNA and upbringing. What counts is the impact of his actions and his ideas on others in shaping the flow of events and the collective mindset of mankind in the wake of his existence. .

        I agree that he “inherited” many Jewish and Greco-Roman ideas, not to mention Mithraic and Egyptian ones, and that he alone could not have “created” Christianity, (after all, “no man is an island,” right?) but without him it would never have become what it became, even with the help of emperors and church apologists.

        He’s arguably the most essential cog in a rather disjointed religious wheel!

      • Avatar
        Xeronimo74  December 14, 2012

        But what about Paul claiming that he didn’t get what he called ‘his’ Gospel from humans but from ‘the risen Christ’ himself?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  December 14, 2012

          Yes, he does say that. But there he is referring to his claim that Gentiles don’t have to be Jews to be followers of the messiah. In 1 Cor. 15:3-4 he’s quite clear that the actual message is one he inherited from those before him.

  16. Avatar
    Walid_  December 14, 2012

    Professor Ehrman
    Can you please point me to a quotation
    in support of the ‘unknown predecessors’ presence?
    Thanks in advance

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  December 14, 2012

      Sorry, I don’t know what you’re referring to.

      • Avatar
        donmax  December 14, 2012

        I think Walid is referring to your claim that Paul “inherited” many of his “key ideas” from predecessors who are now unknown. Good question, I think.

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  December 15, 2012

          Ah, yes. Maybe I’ll post on this soon. Basic story: Paul indicates he got his important views of Christ’s death and resurrection from his predecessors; and faith in Christ’s death for salvation was around before Paul converted. It’s one of the things that got him so angry with the Christians before his conversion. He didn’t make up the idea himself.

  17. Avatar
    Walid_  December 14, 2012

    Doctor Ehrman
    Thank you for your answer.
    My point is that in 1 Cor. 15:3-4 he is talking of having inherited the tradition, thus:
    “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures”: (1 Corinthians 15:3, 4 KJV)
    However in Galatians he said:
    But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11, 12 KJV)

    My question is:
    Does this suggest that Galatians waa published first (before receiving the tradition from others) and then Corinthians was written and thus he naturally was honest enough to mention having inherited other men’s knowledge.

    Thank you

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  December 15, 2012

      Not necessarily. It may mean that even though he learned of the salvation through Jesus’ death and resurrection from his predecessors, his gospel of salvation to gentiles without becoming Jews may have come straight from Jesus (in his view).

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