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My New Course for The Teaching Company (The Great Courses)

New Teaching Company Course!

A temporary “time-out” from my posting on the Jewishness of Matthew’s Gospel.

I received the good news that my new course with the Teaching Company (now called the Great Courses) has become available today.  I am, needless to say, very pleased.   Those of you who have been reading every post for the past few months will remember me talking about the course.  It is called “The Greatest Controversies in Early Christianity.”   As with all the courses I’ve done, this one was 24 lectures in length, each lecture 30 minutes in length.   As I indicated before, these are the topics it covers:

  1. Was Jesus Born in Bethlehem?
  2. Was Jesus’ Mother a Virgin?
  3. Did Jesus have a twin brother, Thomas?
  4. Is Jesus in the Dead Sea Scrolls?
  5. Did Jesus Preach that the World Would End in his own day?
  6. Was Mary Magdalene Jesus’ Closest Disciple?
  7. Was Jesus Married?
  8. What Did Judas Betray?
  9. Did the Jews kill Jesus?
  10. Was Pontius Pilate a Secret Christian?
  11. Why Did Jesus’ Early Followers Claim that He Was Raised from the Dead?
  12. Who were The Original Christians?
  13. Do the Gnostic Gospels reveal the true Jesus?
  14. Were Jews expecting a suffering messiah?
  15. Is Paul the Real Founder of Christianity?
  16. Did the Disciples Write the Gospels?
  17. Are there forgeries in the New Testament?
  18. Do We Know What Happened to the Apostles?
  19. Was Christianity an Illegal Religion?
  20. Does the Book of Revelation Predict our Future?
  21. Do We Have the Original New Testament?   .
  22. Is the Old Testament a Christian book?
  23. Did the Early Christians Believe in the Trinity?
  24. Who Decided Which Books Would be in the New Testament?

As always, I enjoyed doing the course.  But these things are a bit rough. It’s hard enough giving 24 lectures over the course of four days; but it’s even harder doing it to an empty room, with no audience to feed off of.  The hardest thing is humor.  It’s very difficult telling a joke when there’s no one there to laugh….

The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian HistoryIn any event, the course is “audio-only” (no video), so it’s available just on CD.   (That wasn’t my choice: I prefer video; but they needed an audio course and asked if I’d do this one….)

One word of advice: NEVER (as in NOT EVER IN YOUR LIFE) buy one of the Great Courses at full price.  They are regularly and consistently discounted to a ridiculous extent, usually around 70% (so that a $179 course you can buy for, like $49).   That’s still a lot of money, but I think these courses (not mine – just in general) are worth it.  I’ve got a bunch of them myself on various things I’m interested in, and constantly find them to be unusually high quality – well done, well produced, highly informative, and entertaining.

I am about to propose a new course for them, on my next book, “How Jesus Became God.”  There’s no guarantee they’ll do it: in fact, they’ve decided NOT to do a bunch of courses I’ve proposed in the past.  Their procedure is to send out a course description/proposal to hundreds of their customers, and based on their polling, to decide whether to produce it or not.   But I think it would be a great course and I hope they do to.  In the meantime, it’s nice to have this one available now.


Teeth Will Be Provided
Outta Here



  1. Avatar
    hwl  June 28, 2013

    Yes, many of the courses are of great quality and value for money at the discounted price.
    I’m fairly certain almost nobody buys at the full prices. It is a smart marketing tactic to encourage customers to buy courses whenever courses are on sale, rather than postphone and forget about it thinking they can buy at any time.

  2. Avatar
    maxhirez  June 28, 2013

    You said “As with all the courses I’ve done, this one was 24 lectures in length, each lecture 30 minutes in length.” I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but a friend of mine (an Ordained Reverend no less) loaded mp3s of “History of the Bible:The Making of the New Testament Canon” onto my iPod for me, but there are only 12 files there. Are we missing half? Or is there content that he wouldn’t want me to be exposed to in the second half of the series? 😉 (Incidentally he also put “The Historical Jesus” on it, but there are 24 of those.)

    I love to listen to these things on long walks. I see what you mean by needing an audience for humor-especially with the “I am divine, you are da branches” audience reaction.

  3. Avatar
    pakling  June 28, 2013

    Just bought this series for $35 today. I also have your previous lectures from their series, as well as a number of other series on different topics. If these lectures are the same quality as your previous ones then I would consider that price to be a steal. Teaching Company never seems to disappoint.

  4. Avatar
    jsoundz  June 28, 2013

    Glad you are getting back to Great Courses! After listening to you in an interview(5-6 years ago?) with Terry Gross, Fresh Air, I started buying up the Great Course material of yours. Best wishes and hope they take you up on doing another course based on your recent book.

    P.S. When do ever have time to instruct all the Tar Heel students?

    Michigan State Spartan Fan

  5. Avatar
    SHELENBERGER  June 29, 2013

    Thanks Bart. I have almost all of your TC courses. I’ll get this one when I get my TC catalog in the mail.

  6. Avatar
    toejam  June 29, 2013

    Look forward to hearing this. I’ve got a few of these myself – some of yours, some science/physics ones, some other Christian origins ones etc. I’m currently half-way through Amy-Jill Levine’s course on the characters in the NT. Great content. I agree the pricing system is very strange. Of course it’s just a big marketing ploy to create a sense of urgency – “buy now or you’ll miss out!” Marketing 101 haha. But their 70% off price (i.e. their ‘normal’ price LOL) is pretty good value I think.

  7. Avatar
    Adam0685  June 29, 2013

    In general, the great courses are indeed great. Even $50 is not that bad for a course, considering I’ve paid 30 times that for a course at a university that covers the same content (and often in a more interesting and engaging way!). If someone doesn’t need college/university credit, it’s perfect. Also, you can often find them at libraries. If not, persistently petition your local library to buy them! The wide array of courses on different topics is amazing!

    Bart, if you can’t get Great Courses to go with your “How Jesus Became God” course maybe your university will sponser you to do it through https://www.coursera.org

  8. Avatar
    chrisbartley  June 29, 2013

    Purchased! 🙂 The digital download version is currently on sale for only $34.95.

  9. Avatar
    Wilusa  June 29, 2013

    Just ordered it! It’s possible either to order streaming to your computer or other device (costs less), or order CDs and if you do, have the option of streaming for no additional cost. I wonder if their reason for doing audio only is because they want to test how their new streaming feature works with audio, before including video? (Personally, I didn’t download it. Not sure I want all that on my computer – I’ll be happy with the CDs!)

  10. Avatar
    Jim  June 29, 2013

    Got the course based on Mark’s comment on the June 27 post (yay, Mark for PR manager). So far, I liked the clapping (naw, just being a jerk here) and have my bottle scotch to help me go through the course (just being a jerk again 🙂 ). Thanks for all the time you invested in preparing this course, and thanks from me to the Teaching Company for both hosting this course and for the high quality audio. My only disappointment is that I thought there might be a lecture on how to turn water into wine immediately without going through the fermentation cycle. I’m now sitting with the aforementioned scotch in hand (hahaha undergraduate students) and the mouse ready to click on lecture 2.

  11. Avatar
    rhsondag  June 30, 2013

    I thought I would add my endorsement for these courses. I have purchased 64 of them, including all of Bart’s. Of that total, only perhaps 4 were a waste of time. Most of them are excellent, including Bart’s.

    Bart, on a personal note, I want to thank you for what you do. I stumbled across you through the Teaching Company. I was shocked to learn of things that I had somehow missed through years of religious education and practice! I bought the rest of your courses and a bunch of your books. You have a gift for providing clear explanations, for laying a solid foundation for your views, and for fairly disclosing conflicting points of view.

    I am afraid that none of us will gain immortality in a metaphysical sense, but you will obtain a measure of it through your writings, your videos, and your students (including your blog-mates!). That is really cool – you are making a difference!

  12. Avatar
    Xeronimo74  June 30, 2013

    Bought. And looking forward to listen to it now! That’s a whole list of intriguing topics indeed 😀

  13. Avatar
    nichael  June 30, 2013

    This is indeed good news. (And I’ve already ordered mine.)

    As a rabid fan of The Teaching Company, can I add a couple more points here?

    1] The teaching company is one of the great educational secrets of the internet. Unlike some of the pop magazine “courses” that are available (e.g. the “Ted Talks”) or the on-line recording of university lectures (sometime great material, but often shoddy in a technical sense) The Teaching Company offers great courses, with real content, by great lecturers in excellent quality formats.

    In addition to owning most of Dr Ehrman’s course, I have also enjoyed several art history courses, literature courses (e.g. the course on “Ulysses”) and –especially– the wonderful courses on music by Robert Greenberg.

    2] As far as cost:
    As noted above, courses are regularly (significantly) discounted. In fact The Teaching Company advertises that _all_ courses are discounted at least once per year.

    3] In addition to CD versions of courses such as this one, most courses are also available in a streaming version. These are typically $10 or so cheaper than the CD versions of the courses.
    (So far as I know all courses are available on in a streaming format, except very “video-intensive” courses,
    such as art history courses.)

    Moreover, The Teaching Company has recently changed its policy, such that if you by the CDs, you also get the streaming-versions “for free”

    Note that, although the CDs contain the same material as the streaming version, there are some (small?) differences.

    — The most important, obviously, is that the streaming versions are available immediately after ordering, and can be viewed anywhere on-line (e.g. in your browser, your iPad, etc) as well as downloaded to your device.
    (This means I no longer have to buy the CDs, and them rip them to my laptop in order to import it into iTunes to get it on my iPad, etc)

    — Also, the streaming-version are somewhat cheaper. In addition to the $10 “discount” for the streaming version, you don’t have to pay shipping charges.

    — That said, the there are two advantages of the CDs: First, you get the physical media –if this is important to you. Second, the CD comes with the nice little hardbound copy of the accompanying course notes.

    Just to be clear, the streaming version of the course contains a link to a PDF version of the course notes. If that’s sufficient for your needs (or you don’t care about the notes) then this makes no difference. However, if you _do_ prefer hardcopy of the note, the copy that comes with the CDs is nicely bound. Moreover the course booklet can be quite long (often more than 100 pages) which makes it hassle to print out. Finally, the course booklet has a big fat copyright warning on the front page saying that you can’t print this out. (For example, my local Staples refused to print a copy of a course booklet I took to them on a thumb drive.)

    Anyway, your call.

    4] And finally, if you’re still not sure that The Teaching Company is for you, there’s no need to take my word for it. Many libraries have copies of courses available –this is where I first discovered them– so you can check them out there.

  14. Avatar
    dikelmm  July 1, 2013

    I have two of your audio courses loaded on my PC. I heartily recommend any of them to anyone, especially to those new to Biblical scholarship. Having the information in half-hour segments makes the information easier to digest, not just intellectually, but emotionally. Anyone who has been raised in “the church” and taught the particular dogma of their denomination, with what passes for “Bible Study,” will be deeply challenged by your lectures. Being able to listen to a half hour and then think about it for minutes, hours or days before going on is helpful. Books are usually not broken up so neatly.

  15. Avatar
    Wilusa  July 1, 2013

    But…we’re not all the same. Of the ones I’ve purchased, the only ones I’ve viewed in their entirety, other than Dr. Ehrman’s, were those on the Old Testament and on Islam. The ones on astronomy and genetics turned out to be too technical for me (well, a more *recent* one I purchased on astronomy – because I recognized the professor’s name – didn’t seem to deal with topics that *interested* me). I quickly lost interest in one on the history of the Papacy; never have gotten around to viewing the ones I’d purchased on Buddhism, and on the history of diplomacy. My advice would be not to “jump” when a topic intrigues you – give some thought to how much time you’re really willing to devote to it!

  16. Avatar
    nichael  July 1, 2013

    Curiosity demands that I ask –and assuming you’re OK with answering this– could you say something about the topics that The Teaching Company decided not to go with?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 2, 2013

      I chose the topics. I originally had a list of 36 (I’m sure I’ve lost it by now) and pared it down.

  17. Avatar
    SHELENBERGER  July 2, 2013

    Bought the CDs last night!
    Bart, in your “Historical Jesus” TC course, you said that (1) the discovery of the empty tomb of Jesus by some of his women followers and (2) the burial by Joseph of Arimathea are historical. But you changed your view on them. You’re no longer certain they are historical. How will it work if you’re quoted that you affirm these claims (when in fact you’ve changed your view on them)? You wouldn’t tell TC to discontinue them. Would you?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  July 3, 2013

      No, I won’t try to cover up my change of mind. I think it’s a *good* thing to look at evidence and then rethink an entire issue; my view is that people need to make up their own minds based on the evidence, rather than trust what I — or anyone else — thought at one time or now… So, well, I think I was wrong!

  18. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  July 3, 2013

    I ordered the course yesterday, at a discounted rate, before I read this post. I have completed all of your previous Teaching Company courses and they are all clear, organized, and quite helpful. So many of their other courses are no way near as clear as your courses. 24 Lectures in 4 days! Wow! You have a “gift.” Is that, as Walker Percy suggests at the end of “The Second Coming,” a sign of a “Giver”? Who really knows?

    I agree with ordering the courses only when they go on sale which they all eventually do.

  19. Avatar
    tnagel88  March 22, 2014

    I realize this is an old post but its relevant to the question I have. You said in a recent post that you were headed in to record a new Great Courses series. Does this mean that the Teaching Company accepted the How Jesus Became God one?

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