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Making the Bestseller List

As many of you know, I made an appearance on “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross a couple of weeks ago.  I had mentioned in an earlier post that the only way it is humanly possible for a book to become a bestseller is by having some media attention paid to it – a herculean task, especially these days, over the past two years, when the national media wants to talk about nothing but That One Thing.

Fresh Air has millions of listeners, though, and I was very fortunate to be on it.  The results were fantastic, as I’ve indicated before.  And a new indication has just appeared.   Triumph of Christianity  has made it on the New York Times Bestseller this week, coming in at #11 on the list of Hardback Non-Fiction.

That’s a big deal for me.   There are something like 600 books that get published every day.  To  be on this list is special.  I don’t expect the book to stay on for more than a week, but still, it is a milestone.

There is some other coverage I’m getting as well.   I will be on Sam Harris’s podcast (we do it next week).  And there are other venues, including a short piece that I wrote for the History channel, that has gone out on History.com.   Here is the intro to the piece and the link if you want to see the rest of the essay.


History Reads is a weekly series featuring work from Team History, a group of experts and influencers, exploring history’s most fascinating questions.

The triumph of Christianity over the pagan religions of ancient Rome led to the greatest historical transformation the West has ever seen: a transformation that was not only religious, but also social, political and cultural. Just in terms of “high culture,” Western art, music, literature and philosophy would have been incalculably different had the masses continued to worship the gods of the Roman pantheon instead of the one God of Jesus—if paganism, rather than Christianity, had inspired their imaginations and guided their thoughts. The Middle Ages, the Renaissance and modernity as we know them would also have been unimaginably different.

But how did it happen? According to our earliest records, the first “Christians” to believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus were 11 male disciples and a handful of women—say 20 people altogether. These were lower-class, uneducated day laborers from a remote corner of the Roman Empire. And yet, within three centuries, the Christian church could count some 3 million adherents. By the end of the 4th century, it was the official religion of Rome, numbering 30 million followers—or half the Empire.

A century after that, there were very few pagans left.

Christians today might claim that their faith triumphed over the other Roman religions because it was (and is) true, right and good. That may be so. But …




The Sixth Anniversary of the Blog!
An Easter Reflection 2018



  1. Lev
    Lev  April 3, 2018

    Congrats Bart! That’s an awesome achievement. 🙂

    Have you seen the Spectator review of your book?


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    RonaldTaska  April 3, 2018

    Getting to #11 without the book being about Trump is quite an accomplishment. Did “Misquoting Jesus” get higher on the list? Congratulations. Your article with “five points” on the “history” website is very readable and helpful. Thanks. I like it when arguments are organized into several main points which are numbered. That’s the way I used to memorize stuff for college courses.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      Yup, Misquoting is my benchmark, #5. THis book will almost certainly drop off the following week, but it’s nice to get up there for a while!

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    Jim Cherry  April 3, 2018


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    Stephen  April 3, 2018

    A question though about the number of Jesus’ followers. Is the thinking that all of Jesus’ followers packed up and went with him to Jerusalem? Isn’t it likely that there might have been some number of people in his Galilean community that stayed behind and continued devotion to him even after his death in Jerusalem? Don’t we get a hint of this in Mark when the disciples are commanded to go back to Galilee after the resurrection?


    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      The usual idea is that the 12 went with him, and a handful of women. Others who were attracted to him probably couldn’t leave their day jobs.

  5. John4
    John4  April 3, 2018

    A question for you, wonderful Bart!

    The New Interpreter’s Study Bible argues that in Mark 1:2-3, the foretold voice crying out in the wilderness is that of Jesus in the immediately preceding verse. The commentator, Mary Ann Tolbert, then notes: “However, Matthew, and Luke both clearly apply these verses to John the Baptist, not to Jesus, but in order to allow the formulaic beginning to function normally, they introduce John into their stories *before* [emphasis added] the Isaiah quotation is given (Matt 3:1-3; Luke 3:1-6), which Mark does not do.”

    A friend in my Facebook bible study asks this:

    If Matthew and Luke are using Mark as their source and writing independently of each other, how did they both come to change their source in the same way?

    What say you, Bart?

    I can’t tell you how very much you blog has meant in my life! 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      I think Mark is referring to John the Baptist, as are, more obviously, Matthew and Luke

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    Judith  April 3, 2018

    Thanks for sharing! It gives us a sense of being on your team, Dr. Ehrman.

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    Judith  April 3, 2018

    And now for Oprah! 🙂

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    The Agnostic Christian  April 3, 2018

    I love Sam Harris. Will definitely be tuning in to that one. His podcast is on Spotify. It’s called Waking Up with Sam Harris.

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    JohnMuellerJD  April 3, 2018

    Awesome! On all fronts! Congrats! And I get the feeling that your next book on the afterlife is going to slay it!

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    rivercrowman  April 3, 2018

    Great news! And one way or another, I look forward to listening to your upcoming interview with Sam Harris.

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    natasha  April 3, 2018

    This is fantastic!! Bravo on making The List!

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    fishician  April 3, 2018

    Last night I downloaded Seth Andrews’ podcast of his interview with you about the book, but haven’t had a chance to listen to it yet (hopefully tonight). For those on the blog who want to access it, it is his March 20 radio podcast, can be found on his website at http://www.thethinkingatheist.com/.
    Also, did you catch NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar? How do like John Legend as JC, compared to other on-screen versions? Frankly, I like the down-to-earth Jesus of JCS compared to the other-wordly versions usually depicted.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      I recorded it but haven’t seen it yet. A couple of my students loved it.

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    seeker_of_truth  April 3, 2018

    I noticed your Amazon Author Rank is #95 in Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting.

  14. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  April 3, 2018

    Congratulations on making the best seller list! I had hoped this would make it on the list. When your books sell well it ensures we’ll get more!

    One of the reasons I had my feelings that this book would sell well would be because of its topic and that I didn’t think it would appear controversial as some of your other books have been. I think this book has a broad appeal for those interested in Christianity generally and Christian history specifically.

    Personally I love the controversial books! I think the truth and the facts of Christianity need to be told!

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    doug  April 3, 2018

    Congratulations on making the NY Times best-seller list. Good article for history.com, and there is some eye-popping art work with it.

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    godspell  April 3, 2018

    Congratulations. It is a big deal. Many enduring and popular books, nonfiction and fiction alike, never had this honor.

    Of course, you realize that the more books on this subject make it big, the more that will be published. Not all of them by scholars. Bill O’Reilly has already added Jesus to his kill-list.


    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      Yup, #1 bestseller. What a scream.

      • Avatar
        godspell  April 5, 2018

        You really should consider my “Paul as Itinerant Serial Killer” pitch.

        I’d only ask for a small percentage of the (massive) profits.

        It’s funny to think that even the people publishing books and articles (and making films) trying to prove Jesus didn’t exist at all are motivated, in no small part, by the fact that the name alone sells. Still boffo at the box office, after two millennia. What would they do without him?

        Were You There When They Monetized My Lord?


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    FluminenseFC82  April 3, 2018

    Applause and congratulations Dr. Ehrman! It is all well-deserved! Continued success in all you do. 🙂

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    darren  April 3, 2018

    Unrelated to your post, but I came across this story (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2016/10/03/high-profile-atheist-explains-why-hes-on-the-trump-train-an-interview-with-robert-m-price/) about Robert Price being a big Trump supporter. Wants to ban Muslim immigration and build the wall with Mexico. I recall when you thrashed him in your debate, with rational arguments and clear logic, but that didn’t change the minds of mythicists. This piece about his support for Trump, and other pieces I’ve read about atheists making a large part of the alt-right movement, made me think of Christianity in its early days fragmenting into sects. I’ve read so much from atheists who believe religion is the root of evil, but I think the fragmenting of atheism shows that secular or not, humans are predisposed to strong belief in irrational causes and solutions.

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      Tony  April 5, 2018

      I’m not sure why there should be a belief that atheists are of the same general political opinions. Christians are not. I may share Price’s atheism and conclusions about a mythical Jesus, but I strongly disagree with his ultra-conservative opinions.
      In the Milwaukee debate Robert Price appeared inexperienced and unprepared. Richard Carrier would have been a much better choice. Come to think of it, I would have been a better choice.

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    Tony  April 4, 2018

    Here is another literary triumph for you. Robert Price, a mythicist no less, has written a book about your work. Your picture is on the cover. Not wanting to be too morbid, but I always thought these sort of reviews were produced in memoriam…

    Provided Trump allows it, It’s available from Amazon later in April. Here is one of the reviews:

    “Finally there is a colleague who can honor the contributions Bart Ehrman is making to the field of New Testament studies by neither demonizing nor praising him without reason. With scholarly scrutiny and his witty humor Robert M. Price addresses central topics of Ehrman’s work. By supporting and critiquing what he sees, Dr. Price encourages and equips readers to find their own voice as they engage with highly debated aspects of New Testament literature.” —David Trobisch, Director, Museum of the Bible Collection

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2018

      Yup, he sent me a copy. I’m honored. And glad it’s not in memoriam!

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    flshrP  April 4, 2018

    Congrats. Well deserved. I expect that your next book on the afterlife will be a slam dunk to make that list.

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