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More on Jews, Christians, and the Battle for Scripture

In yesterday’s post I indicated that my next trade book, to be written in a couple of years, would deal with the question of Jews and Christians, centered on the question of why Christians kept the Old Testament and how doing so led to controversies with Jews. The following is how I set up the issue that I will be addressing.

The second-century Christian theologian Marcion maintained that the Old Testament was the Scripture of the Jews. Christians, however, were not Jews; they were followers of Jesus. Moreover, the loving God of Jesus was not the wrathful God of the Jews. For Marcion, Jews and Christians had nothing in common except in a negative sense: the Jews represented everything the Christians rejected, including the inferior, legalistic God who chose the Jewish people and gave them their Scriptures. Christians have their own beneficent and salvation-bringing God, and their own Scriptures. For Marcion, the Old Testament is not part of the Christian Bible.

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Exciting Discovery of a Hebrew Bible Scroll
The Next Trade Book: Jews and Christians



  1. Avatar
    toddfrederick  May 27, 2013

    I think that there is a significant *historical event* here that makes a major difference in whether we view the Old Testament as a valid document for Christian or if it should be rejected.

    This event is the Resurrection of Jesus as described by Paul in I Cor. 15. For me that is a critical turning point (and one I now struggle with in my own faith).

    1. If Jesus was NOT raised up (as a transformed spiritual body, according to Paul) then what Paul says about receiving his gospel (Paul’s gospel) from the risen Christ through visions is a fraud and Jesus remains a Jewish teacher whose apocalyptic prophesy failed and remains only a significant Jewish ethical teacher of the Old Testament (Tanach)….or

    2. If Jesus WAS raised up and if Paul was selected by the risen Christ to receive a new teaching (a “New Testament”) directly from the risen Christ, then what Paul teaches is authentic and a New Testament is a valid repository of that teaching (the Old Testament being a document that points to the coming of Jesus as Messiah).

    There is no way for us to know the truth of this empirically in this lifetime as finite beings.

    Any thoughts on the role of Paul’s claim to visionary teaching from Christ with regard to the issue of the validity of the Old Testament as a document which give prophesy of the coming of the Messiah (in Jesus)?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 28, 2013

      I think Paul had a vision of Jesus, and it was on the *basis* of this vision that he started interpreting the Jewish Scripture in liht of his experience and what he took to be as its necessary interpretation.

      • Avatar
        toddfrederick  May 29, 2013

        I agree. I also think that he had a vision (or visions) but that is a matter of faith. It can not be empirically verified. We can only trust his testimony.

        I have talked to many people about this for their opinion and most are not aware of the visions. When I mention such many think that Paul must be crazy (psychotic). My son (a young minister) believes in the supernatural (the spiritual dimension) and we discussed Paul’s visions. Conclusion…Modern scientific thinking often rejects the spiritual and such things as visions. I don’t. My sons doesn’t rejects that at all. I think that (in the spirit) is where we meet God most deeply.

        I prefer to believe that Paul had the visions, and through the visions Jesus gave him the knowledge which is the basis of his teachings and his interpretation of the Old Testament. What he says in his letters is both beautiful and deeply meaningful.

        Blessings, Todd

        • Avatar
          toejam  May 30, 2013

          A “vision” is different to a “legitimate supernatural vision” though. I have “visions” most nights when I’m asleep (typically called “dreams”). Many people experience them while they’re awake, often while under the influence of drugs or alchohol, or due to a lack of oxygen being supplied to the brain etc. The reality is that we (now) have fairly good evidential, non-miraculous explanations of “visions”. This makes it even harder to read Paul’s testimony and conclude that his was somehow a legitimate one delivered to him by Jesus and/or God, and not simply a dream/hallucination/brain-fart. If you’re going to say Paul’s was legitimate, why not Marshall Applewhite’s, who also made the ultimate sacrifice for his conviction? Without any demonstrably sufficient method for determining which “visions” are legitimate, and which are simply dreams/hallucinations/brain-farts, the Occam’s Razor principle suggests that potentially ALL such “visions” are simply the latter.

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  May 30, 2013

            The term “vision” is typically applied to both veridical experiences (when an external stimulus really does cause you to see what you see) and non-veridical (hallucinations).

    • Avatar
      Hellbindercda  May 29, 2013

      The issue i have with point 2 you make is this.

      Why even waste your time with the 12 apostles if your plan was to later appear in a vision to a different guy in the desert and real all the “real” truths” to him? What a slap in the face to the 12 who walked with Jesus from dawn till disk for 1-3 years and were taught y him daily. Paul literally claims that the true gospel; was revealed exclusively to him alone. he even makes stabs at the apostles that only knew Jesus “physically” in 2 cor 5.

      It is clear that the Jesus and gospel of Paul are not the same Jesus of the synoptics. .

      As someone who was a believer and bible teacher for 20 years the whole thing gives me a major headache now when i look at it in detail.

      • Bart Ehrman
        Bart Ehrman  May 29, 2013

        You would have made a great Marcionite!!

        • Avatar
          Hellbindercda  May 29, 2013

          i don’t know if you have a section for theology.. i know that is not your schtick.


          I dont know if i would be a Marcionite or an anti Marcionite. You have studied these texts in detail yet without a doctrinal axe to grind. Do you think they are moire or less the same message? or do you think Paul’s version of the gospel really is different than the synoptics.

          Its probably not the place… but i am genuinely sad about not being able to be a Fundamentalist “born again” believer any more after so many years. I seem to constantly be trying to find a way to take the blue pill and get back into the matrix… but the more i study the scripture, history, and science… especially the scripture the worse it gets. I cant read a single passage the same way any longer and it dumbfounds me that i was not able to see all the things i see now. its just so obvious to me that Jesus is for the most part a “sock puppet” used to fit the needs of later christian ideas. like in this topic on the battle for scripture. they manufacture a discussion or an encounter to make a point for themselves, having Jesus say things that obviously were not even on the table until years later.

          Thank you for your books.. I believe i have read or listened to the audiobook of 5 of your works. the last one being Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene.

          • Bart Ehrman
            Bart Ehrman  May 30, 2013

            No, I think Paul has a very different message in some respects from the Synoptics, especially Matthew and Luke. Maybe I’ll post on that at some point!

          • Avatar
            willow  November 24, 2013

            New to the blog, I am just now getting to this posting and have to say Hellbindercda, you have so well described me.

            ” the more i study the scripture, history, and science… especially the scripture the worse it gets. I cant read a single passage the same way any longer and it dumbfounds me that i was not able to see all the things i see now.”


  2. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  May 28, 2013

    You are really incredible and it is fascinating seeing how your mind moves from project to project. To me, the most interesting part of the above discussion involves the ancient Jews not thinking that Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 were messianic prophecies. These prophecies, jerked out of context, never have seemed that convincing to me and I have always been stunned by those, like the author of Matthew, who quote these passages as if they were convincing messianic prophecies. These prophecies were turned into powerful music by Handel, but reading them is just not that convincing. In fact, the are confusing.

  3. talitakum
    talitakum  May 28, 2013

    “Marcion was declared an arch-heretic for his views, but the reality is that many Christians today, even though they pay lip service to the Judeo-Christian tradition (which includes the “Judeo” side of it), behave (and think) as if Marcion got it right”

    Great, so in your next book you’ll finally explain why the Church is right? At last !! 😉

  4. Avatar
    donmax  May 28, 2013

    Yes, and when it comes to the ongoing Battle for Scripture, let’s not forget the role of a “betrayer” in all this and the link to predictions of Zechariah; “And I said unto them…give me my price…so they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver (11:12); or the name (Judas Iscariot) and the financial motive (greed) supplied by Matthew; “…And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver (26:15); or demonic possession conveniently added by Luke: “Then Satan entered into Judas…” (22:3); or that the financial factor was so effectively sharpened by John; “…he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein (12:6); or the fact that the anti-Jewish tone had already been set much earlier by none other than Paul; “… for Jews killed the Lord Jesus and their prophets…they are heedless of God’s will and enemies of all mankind (I Thess. 2:15). That’s when “Christian leaders – and imperial authorities – took the rhetoric of the earlier Christians seriously,” as they proceeded to launch and perpetuate their historic campaigns against the Jews, sometimes even with help of non-Christians, unbelievers, secular scholars and agnostics. 🙁

    • Avatar
      Billy Geddes  May 29, 2013

      … so is Judas an allegory for the Jews?

      • Bart Ehrman
        Bart Ehrman  May 29, 2013

        Some have argued so — to the extent of saying that in fact he was “made up.” I think that’s going too far myself.

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    James Dowden  May 28, 2013

    You remind me very much of an experience I once had at an Eisteddfod (think county show on steroids). It was, predictably, raining; so I was more than glad when an evangelical type offered me a cup of coffee in a tent. All was seemingly going rather well, talking about churches and family life and so on, until I mentioned in passing that I had always loved how good the narrative quality of much of the Old Testament was. Suddenly, I was confronted with Marcion right in front of me.

    As for Isaiah 53 and context, isn’t part of the problem that the traditional Christian interpretation rather wrenches the Hebrew in places (ISTR that 53.8 in particular is *very* different in the Artscroll version, which I don’t have to hand, and isn’t online)?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 29, 2013

      I’d have to see which verses you’re thinking of. The early Christians, of course, were reading it in Greek….

  6. Avatar
    philologue  May 29, 2013

    Now that’s a book I look forward to reading!!

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    SHameed01  July 9, 2013

    You know one thing that gets to me is most of the New Testament was written by a man who never knew Jesus personally, what the heck happened to the 12 Apostles who were with Jesus personally?
    Why don’t we have any of their writings in the New Testament?
    Also is there any proof that whatever letters we do find of one of the 12 Apostles, for example Peter’s 1 Peter AND 2 Peter, are even written by Peter himself?
    HELP!! hahahaa

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 9, 2013

      SHameed01: you’ve asked six questions today, (some of them have more than one — so more than six). I’m afraid I won’t be able to answer them all. Try to stick to no more than one at a time; I just don’t have enough minutes in an hour or hours in the day to deal with them all rapid fire like this.

      • Avatar
        SHameed01  June 3, 2016

        I do apologize for overwhelming you with so many questions that day and most importantly I would like to apologize to you for my delayed apology lol!..anyways Professor, I am wondering if you could answer my questions, which I Will restate (except for the one regarding 1 Peter and 2 Peter):

        One thing that gets to me is most of the New Testament was written by a man who never knew Jesus personally, what the heck happened to the 12 Apostles who were with Jesus personally?
        Why don’t we have any of their writings in the New Testament?

        • Bart
          Bart  June 4, 2016

          Mainly because they were illiterate and so couldn’t write.

  8. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 13, 2014

    Hello Bart! I read in on your “Jesus interrupted”. Profoundly resonating conclusion in bringing closure to concise & precise book. I am sorry for underestimating the depths of your sympathy, & your ability to do so without the patronizing, exclusionary, resentment; of eliminating, altogether, the possibility of devotional study in one hand; & without unnecessary personal affirmation in the the other. Also suggesting that a Christianity dependent on the inerrancy of the Bible probably can’t survive the reality of discrepancies. And yet, insisting that the historical may supplement the devotional theological study. & perhaps in some paradoxical way of empathizing- the inverse is openly amenable- tho I won’t expect devotional scholars to lead in historical critique. Any who, thanks for the palatable insight into your field of study & inclusiveness. I personally thank goodness for such honesty.

    In regards to your book concerning Christian & Jewish roots. I was wondering about the apostolic tradition since most mainstream institutions have claims of inheriting & succeeding the apostolic tradition upon which it seems validity of authority is hinged. Catholicism & the legendary chair of Peter. The Renaissance- the rebirth of “Classics” & the resurgence of “The Apostolic Tradition”. Except the preferred Apostle for Luther, I do not think- was James the leader of the Early Church (arguably the “beloved disciple” [John 19:26, 21:20]); but rather the Apostle Paul who is sometimes seen as understanding the the message of Jesus- & the bigger picture of his ministry, more clearly so than Jesus’ Earthly disciples- who have- in some traditions- been seen as inept goons & buffoons. Perhaps you maybe more aware of the source of this ideological trend. Is it likely that the ineptitude of Jesus’ Earthly disciples- in light of the grandeur of Paul’s eclipsing message- had something to do with their affinity for Torah?? As there seems to be a pervading stereotype of the Jews, of the 1st century in general, (particularly Pharisees & Sadducees in N.T.)- & how primitive cultural adherence to Torah & observance of the O.T.- always, inevitably, & despondently culminated in mere & sheer external ritual. The message reconciled in Church today- seems YHWH gave Israel the Torah just to show they could not Keep it. Seemingly tyrannical (IMO sadisctic), but justified for the sake of emphasizing the importance of Christology & Eschatology- a way exonerating the significance of G+D’s Grace.

    Now the letter often attributed to James. Despite the improbability of Greek authorship- lacking emphasis on literal Torah observance- as you & Dale Martin have mentioned- given the “nomos” mentioned is ideologically moral, ethical, universal, humanitarian, liberal & figurative “nomos”- nevertheless- it is not empirically unreasonable to suggest that the Epistle can be attributed to the moral & ethical teaching/focus of James called “Tzaddik”- as the teaching of rich Wisdom literature may not have been alien to James’ character; while his message is not always exclusive to Jews when James emphasizes compromising elements of the Noachide covenant for the uncircumcised Gentiles in Acts- & the emphasis on the poor/ebyown in Galatians. it maybe tenable to suggest that the Epistle – seems consistent with the message found in Jesus’ teaching- & seen as contending with the message found in the letters of Paul- perhaps written in confrontation to the Pauline message. There was at one time written sermons of James at the Temple steps. He probably was not raging against the message of his brother Yeshua. He was considered one of the “Pillars”- “for whom Heaven & Earth come to exist” in Thomas. Called “Tzaddik”- whom culturally unveil the true meaning of Scripture in oration & walk. Are we to think James was democratically given the title “Tzaddik” because his bland black & white observance of Torah culminating in external ritual? Or likely due to his resonating qualities, charity, or lifestyle?

    To Luther (who favored the epistles of Paul more so than that, attributed to “James”) it was all about “Sola Fire, Garcia, Scriptura” (seeing that, for him at least, the meaning of the scriptures were unified, clear, & inerrant). I know your study is more historical than devotional, but was there room in “Scriptura” for freewill? As Luther contends this is a nominal conception- fictional. His predestination is affirmed in Paul’s letters- “By the grace of G+d, I am what I am…” Well what about earlier traditions? Someone above mentioned Qumran apocalypticism & Paul’s apocalypticism in regard to Jesus’ apocalyptic tenor. How does Qumran predestination differ from predestination in Paul- later espoused by the radical reformer Luther- & defended in his enthusiastic, vehement discourse with Erasmus about Free Will.

  9. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 14, 2014

    Could you read any of that?

  10. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 14, 2014

    I understand perhaps the book is not about restoring the originality- teaching of Jesus & his disciples- which is improbable. Rather, how the Church diverged & what not- keeping the Old Testament- as Luther did- seeing that there was no obscurity in scripture- as it all (for Luther) pointed to the consummation of Christ. It was all about the Apostolic tradition. You mention the Ebiownim & Theodocians as staking claims. The Catholic Church & Peter. Luther & Paul.

    So who is the ‘beloved Disciple’. Arguably, it may be more probable that it was James. The topic of James will not just whither away just because there is little to go off of as a source- but there is enough to suggest more. If he was beloved of Jesus- wouldnt he emulate Jesus’ teaching. Is it not a mistake to think all that James was concerned about was circumcision, Sabbath, & Kosher? Would that not mean Jesus himself was concerned about it if that is all that James would emphasize? Despite the improbability of James writing the Letter attributed to his name- it is not as improbable to suggest that the message of the humanitarian teaching found in the epistle attributed to his name was consistent with attributes of once original accessible’ teaching. At least emulating Jesus’ teaching.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 15, 2014

      The reason it’s probably not James is that the brothers of Jesus in John’s Gospel are portrayed as not believing in him.

  11. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 17, 2014

    Was James not referred to as ztaddik or the leader of the church anywhere? Wouldn’t the writer of John known the early Christian Martyr- seeing John was written much later than life of James?- I.e. one of the pillars- in Galatians which Paul happens to seemingly minimalize – as no big deal (“so called…”). In John & Synoptics- the names of disciples change- is this to confuse us?

    Is it possible that the writer of John (as portraying a higher Christology) was threatened by enabling an Ebionite reading of the text[something similar to Mat]- or subsequent adoptionistic reading- & so obfuscate James- seeing James & Jesus & John probably had Ebionite followers & advocates – when James- to wm Paul responded- lead the Early Church? Seeing at least the work attributed to James & writing of Matthew have heavy Ebionite connotations. Replete w/ rich wisdom literature. There’s no empirical indication that the Historical James was ONLY concerned about whether or not the Gentiles kept the Sabbath, Kosher, & Circumcision… Acts 15:19-20- James prescribes the Noachide laws for Gentiles as compromise- emphasis of the covenant made with all nations. Acts 13:42-44 seems to even have Gentiles anticipating the Sabbath to hear “The Word”…

    Is there any indication that there’s intentional obfuscation of disciples as they are eventually eclipsed by Paul- who garnered the true message… And Jesus’ brothers did not understand Jesus after walking with Jesus during his ministry? Paul’s Pharasaic logic is messed up- I.e. “Qal Va-Homer”- which would be hard for Pharisees to forget once learned. Yet Paul was an officer for the Sadducees. This does not raise a brow? Jesus actually uses Qal Va-Homer precisely without going out of bounds all through the Synoptics.

    On the last/6th bullet, would you be willing to write about apostolic tradition or succession? For Luther it seemed to be the apostles- foreshadowed by Paul’s theology & eschatology. For Catholicism it was the chair Peter- yet we know little about Peter apart from legend & Paul’s notorious rebuke. Seemingly no Ebionite source or Christian law keepers of Jewish Festivals by 15-16 Century. Or whatever aspect of Torah that maybe deemed a “jot or tiddle” [Matt 5:18]. In fact the teaching attributed to James in the N.T.- is minimalized by Martin Luther as the “Straw Epistle”- perhaps because the emphasis on pietistic expression- works- & a degree of asceticism [which we know to Ebionite trend- Matt 19:21 & James 4:4]

    • Avatar
      Ethereal  August 17, 2014

      Also beatitudes Matt 5; Luke 12:24-28; James 2:5 all verses advocate some degree of asceticism- I.e.- Ebionite/poor lifestyle- “Beggars of Spirit”. “The Meek”. “Doers”- root ποιέω – Matt 25:40,45; James 1:22; 2:16

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 17, 2014

      Yes, lots and lots of things are *possible*. The question at every point is what evidence there is to support one view over another.

  12. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 17, 2014

    No less evidence than that which supports adoptionistic view. Just gotta look at the internal evidence. I gave a few references referring to the fact that James is not only concerned w Jewish law but even broader & more compromising view the Noahchide law (perhaps qualifies for dissimilarity). The other fact is that the disciples’ lists in Gospels are different- why if they were going off the same source- and were not trying to trow us a red hering? Isn’t anyone the church curious about why so little is mentioned about Jesus’ earthly [Torah observant] disciples in proportion to how much is reffered to Paul & John? Is that something you could mention or discuss in your book- clarify to the lamen like myself? Since the development of Judeo Christianity still include the “Judeo” side of it.

    Like you have mentioned before, our sources from the seminary to Sunday school teacher are nearly the same. Preceding early 2nd century not much on adoptionistic view either. Yet, of course, how are we to expect a homogeneous unified development when we see no such monolith in christiandem? Did these other Christologies- adoption ism etc- high & low- just developed in a vacuum erupting out of no where? That the contentions iminent around the fall of the temple was merely a sporadic occurrence that did not develop even over the past century? Look at the history in general. The schisms w/ Islam go all the way back to the crusades & its origins. Or Martin Luther’s vehemence- was it not concerning hypocrisy despotism of the Church that had developed in the Western world over the course of Centuries? Of course we cannot point to just 1 single event to construct what probably happened. I think History will not qualify without anthropological approach.

  13. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 17, 2014

    Was James not referred to as ztaddik or the leader of the church anywhere? Is that historical?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 19, 2014

      He’s not referred to that way in the earliest sources (the NT), only starting in the 2nd century.

  14. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 20, 2014

    Can’t you say the the same about adoptionism?

    And so what of the reference to “The Pillars” in Galatians? Doesn’t that count for dissimilarity?

    BTW I thought the idea- about the writer of James’ letter- as not being in dispute with Paul about “Faith & Deeds”- seeing they are referring to different definitions of Faith- despite same reference in Genesis about Abraham- that’s an interesting suggestion in the scholarly debate. Paul’s Faith being more in line with “Trust” (in death, & resurrection of Christ), James more Jewish & traditional (seeing the Jewish word for “Trust”- “Batach” is distinct from “Faith/Believe”- “A man” yet Trust has- been the modem for Salation- Isaiah 12:2/Jer 17:7). Yet the Faith in both contxt- Believing in the Unity of G+d for James- like the “Shema”- can be compared to Faith in Christ- the ultimatum of G+d. Both face a similar challenge- Except- If Faith for Paul is Trust- in Hebrew this means confidence & security- & Faith for James Aman “Support” which in itself connotes security- but as reliable or supportive. Ones passive & the other active. The problem is the Greek syntax in this inatance- it is ambiguous due that its simply not Hebrew/Traditional. Most instances have parallels though.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 20, 2014

      Sorry, I’m not sure what you’re asking about adoptionism or about Galatians and dissimilarity.

  15. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 20, 2014

    Sorry, if your having trouble understanding a relatively common concern & misconception alot of lamen have in regards to Biblical context & belief- particularly about Jesus & manner of ordination of his earthly disciples. Perhaps as a believer- it is difficult for me to resonate- I try to make it concise- but still cannot prod you to try and better understand what it is that I’m merely trying to understand. But your focus seems selective & pre purposed. I assume your understanding is limited for those interested in matters of belief, anthropology, & cultural context of early Christian roots (I.e. Understanding 1st century Judaism)- but then again I guess History is not your major field of study? most illustrious professor Ehrman.

    You said that James was not referred to “that” way (as the early church leader) until the 2nd century. I then said- can’t you suggest the same of adoptionism- that adoptionsism was a 2nd century advent- 2nd century distortion of 1st century readings/letters? What makes adoption ism historical & the leadership of James far more legendary? Some have gone far enough to say that James’ death lead to the fall of the temple. Its not like these ideas sprang from nowhere.
    About Galatians 2:9- James is referred to as one of the “pillars”. Paul minimalizes the position of James’ status as a pillar with “dokeō”- *seems* like a pillar- but not really a true pillar (which has imagery in ancient Judaism- as “support”- I.e. “Faith” is confirming or supportive- or hyperbolic- “that for which Heaven & Earth have come to exist”). Nevertheless James is an authority that Paul responds to. James does not need to respond to Paul. Paul feels it necessary to go to James, Peter, & John for validation- & yet subtly minimalizes their status or role- & even rebukes Peter (Gal 2:11). So it is about apostolic tradition & authority- which lead to the debate later among protestants & Catholics- Paul or the apostles- ordination, etc. So if James was not the leader, was it Paul or Peter as leader of early Christian Church(es)? Or was James leader of Jewish Christians & Paul or Peter leader of Gentile converts? An demanding issue maybe you can address more clearly in your book.

    • Avatar
      Ethereal  August 20, 2014

      Btw Please excuse my frustration. Its hard for us lowly uneducated peons to communicate effectively with scholars or “The elders”.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 21, 2014

      I think you misunderstood me. I didn’t know what you were referring to because when you post a comment to a post, I do not have the string of comments that you are responding to, and so I don’t know the context of your inquiry unless you tell me in your comment. As to your question, history is, in fact, what I do.
      It is a debated point when to locate “adoptionism.” The groups normally labeled adoptionist — the Ebionites and the Theodotians in Rome – are dated to the second century.
      It appears that James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem; Paul did not see himself as standing under James’s authority, although he did want his (and the other apostles’) blessing for his Gentile mission. He thought of himself as the authority figure over the churches he founded.
      I hope this answers your questions.

  16. Avatar
    Ethereal  August 24, 2014

    Sorry yea I did misunderstand you. That does answers my inquiry for the most part- Thnx.
    Ive been watching Dale Martin on YouTube- after seeing his name in one of your books & comments. He’s pretty phenomenal! .
    Provides a lot of context hitting the constroversies head on- demystifying common conceptions w/ transparency. I appreciate the scholarahip.

    Btw what do you think the “Pillar” imagery in Galatians suggest- & what do you think “Pillar” meant to Jews of the time?

    Are there any mainstream scholars suspicious of Paul’s Pharisaic credentials or his occupation as a leather worker? Seeing he was also an arresting officer for the Sadducees- & seems to take more a liking to Greek rather than Hebrew [the scholastic language of the time for Pharisees]…

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 25, 2014

      Not too many doubt that he was a Pharisee, since he says so. But there’s only one brief comment in Acts that associates him with leather working, and I don’t know if it can be trusted. And we don’t know if the chief priests gave him authority or not. The Sanhedrin had jurisdiction only in Jerusalem.

  17. Avatar
    Ethereal  September 18, 2014

    Hypothetically, do you think the apostle Paul would find Luther’s doctrine of Predestination, Sola Scriptura, Sola Fide, Sola Gracia, agreeable or divergent in any sense from what we may know from what Paul probably meant for the Faith of Christianity (also seeing that Paul seems to be Luther’s champion). I also wonder how far off Augustine diverges from Paul if he does so significantly? Since these are 2 significant influences in European tradition of Christianity.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  September 18, 2014

      I don’t think Luther’s views would have made sense to Paul, since they were living in such vastly different contexts.

  18. Avatar
    Stephen  September 26, 2014

    I am also looking forward to this book.
    What strikes me, after reading your views on the different ways that ancient Jews and others may have believed that humans could be or become divine, is that it cannot be argued that Jews who didn’t convert, did so because they were stubbornly refusing to accept the evidence.
    This is even more evident when all the other problems in the New Testament are also considered.

    It seems to me that an argument may well be made that it is more reasonable for anyone examining the evidence (especially Jews) to reject the claims of Christianity when those claims would necessitate abandoning Judaism.

    In other words, even if either Christianity or Judaism were the one true religion, it is more likely to be Judaism than Christianity.

    Do you think that historians can say anything about this question, or is it purely a theological matter?

    • Bart
      Bart  September 26, 2014

      Yes, I’m afraid the “truth” of either religion is a theological judgment, not a historical one.

  19. Avatar
    Ethereal  October 1, 2014

    Thankya Bart.
    Do you think the idea of “Original Sin” was an original or generic theme for the “Apostle” Paul? Was “Original Sin” & the thematic substance for what later became known as the “Felix Culpa”- historically unprecedented before the “Apostle” Paul? Despite ascetic parallels in Greco-Hellenistic philosophy & dualisms with the rivalry between flesh & spirit cultures. Did original sin & the idea behind the Felix Culpa begin w/ the Book of Hebrews & Paul? If not found in Dead Sea Scrolls or paralleled much in contemporary literature in tradition.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 1, 2014

      I don’t think Paul has the doctrine of Original Sin (at least as Augustine formulated it). He does think that since Adam sinned, sin entered the world, and enslaved all those related to Adam (i.e., all of us). But that’s based on apocalyptic understandings of sin as a cosmic force that has entered into the world, not on later theological reflections of Original Sin as passed along, for example, in the sex act.

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    Ethereal  October 2, 2014

    Haha thnx for the apt response!
    If you are willing & able to say, which part of the Bible- from the Letters attributed to Paul’s name- to ‘Hebrews’- to the Gospels- to the Old Testament- would have enabled an Augustinian reading of original sin? I.E. Which theme from Genesis to Revelation do you think predominantly contributed to & enabled the way contemporary, conservative Christians read their Bible today?
    The garden incident? Cain & Abel? The Prophets? Jesus narrative? Paul’s letters? Etc. Please excuse me for lack of refinement if my question is too general.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 3, 2014

      I think it was Genesis 3 and Romans 5 that were most influential.

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