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How Jesus Became God on Humanist Hour

OK, here is something different to break up all the discussion of textual criticism.

On May 14th, 2014, I was interviewed by Bo Bennett on the hour long program called The Humanist Hour.  This is a one-hour talk show produced by the American Humanist Association (see : http://americanhumanist.org/ ).  In the interview we discuss my personal background as a believer, some fundamentals of the Bible from a historical perspective, and some comments related to my book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.

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Back to the Question: The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture
Ruffling the Feathers of My Fellow Textual Critics



  1. Avatar
    shakespeare66  September 6, 2015

    Good interview. I liked Bo Bennett–his questions were very good and fair. I learned something from this that I had not known: Tertullian introduced the concept of the trinity in the late 2nd century, but the Gospel of John, written in supposedly 95 CE, had already made the idea of the trinity clear. Does this mean that the trinity idea was written into the Gospel of John long after 95 CE?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 7, 2015

      No, I don’t think the Gospel of John has a clearly expressed doctrine of the trinity, at all!

      • Rick
        Rick  September 7, 2015

        When does the Johnine comma first appear?

        • Rick
          Rick  September 7, 2015

          Beg pardon Dr. Ehrmann, in trying to answer that myself I now see it is quite a can of worms….

        • Bart
          Bart  September 8, 2015

          It first turns up in a Latin manuscript in the 6th or 7th century.

  2. Avatar
    Adam Beaven  September 6, 2015

    what was the name of the hand sanitizer?

  3. Avatar
    rivercrowman  September 6, 2015

    Great interview — and interviewer.

  4. Avatar
    Stephen  September 6, 2015

    I confess I don’t see how something can be theologically “true” and yet not be historically true. If Jesus did not claim to be God and his immediate disciples did not believe he was God in what sense can he be God now? If they don’t discipline their speculations with recourse to history how can theologians claim to be making truth statements of any kind? What are theologians doing when they claim to be doing theology? If I wrote a book claiming that Abraham Lincoln was God I would expect most people to think I was not doing theology but had taken leave of my senses. If the response is that Jesus is different from Abraham Lincoln then I would like someone to explain the difference.

  5. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  September 6, 2015

    This is a terrific interview where you cover a lot of ground in your usual clear way, often with humor, such as when you refer to the “CIA” blog.

    But I have a question with regard to your statement that you are not “trying to argue that Jesus is not God.” If the message of the book is that the concept of the “divinity of Jesus” was not clearly stated by Jesus and, instead, slowly evolved after His death, then doesn’t this imply that this concept of the “divinity of Jesus” is a human invention and, therefore, Jesus is not really God? In essence, can you really separate the “theological” from the “historical” so cleanly? It reminds me of the concept of “non-overlapping magisteria” that claims that science and religion can be separated into two different domains. I just don’t think this can be done so cleanly. Isn’t something either true or it is not true? I understand that one can say that after the death of Jesus, the Holy Spirit guided the development of this “divinity of Jesus” concept, but that seems to be not very convincing, at least not to me.

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    mjordan20149  September 7, 2015

    I teach at a Community College, and I like to tell my students, on the first day of class, that my job involves creating cognitive dissonance. I think that the reason students resist learning, especially in the humanities, is that we respond to cognitive dissonance by doubling down and defending our presuppositions more vigorously. Since I live in the south, this often involves debunking the “lost cause myth” of the Civil War and reconstruction. Of course, many of my students (at least those who care about debating American History) remain unconvinced by my efforts, mainly because of this “backfire effect” response to cognitive dissonance.

    Employing modern historical methods to analyze scripture is bound to create lots and lots of cognitive dissonance. The inevitable backfire effect, to me, explains a lot of the responses to your books in general, and this particular book in particular. Doubt is the ultimate “din” for Fundamentalists, and anything that raises doubts about scripture is, therefore, intolerable.

  7. Avatar
    wje  September 8, 2015

    When you say that Paul did not write some epistles attributed to him or that James or Peter did not write books under their name, how do scholars know this? What is the proof or evidence of this?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 8, 2015

      Ah — that requires a long answer! I’ve dealt with it on the blog before: just search for “forgery.” Also you might consider my book


      , or if you’re really into this stuff, my scholarly book

        Forgery and Counterforgery
  8. Avatar
    Antisthenes  September 23, 2015

    The main argument against your thesis seems to be that Jesus does confirm his divine nature at the trial before the Sanhedrin, although not during the rest of his ministry. Why if it is so central to Christian theology does it have so small a mention outside of John’s Gospel?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 23, 2015

      I don’t think it’s a strong argument. The question is not whether Jesus says that in Mark’s Gospel. The question is whether the historical Jesus said that. (And he does NOT say, even in Mark, that he is a divine being.)

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