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My Next Books

QUESTION:

I now have a half dozen questions, but I won’t ask them at this time because I have a better idea for your time: a book on Paul. I would Love that. If that is not your plan, would you give us a hint about what your next book will be about?

 

RESPONSE:

I have had a number of people ask if I was planning on, or willing to, write a book on Paul. The answers are no, and probably no. There are already lots of good books out there on Paul for both scholars (my favorite classic is by my former colleague from Duke, E. P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism) and lay folk (for example, the most recent book by my friend Albert Harrill, Paul the Apostle). Moreover, Pauline studies is not one of my areas of specialization, even though in graduate school I studied with two of the great Pauline scholars of the day (J. Christiaan Beker and Paul Meyer), and I still have both colleagues (Richard Hayes, Douglas Campbell) and very close friends (Dale Martin, Elizabeth Johnson) who are among the best Pauline scholars of today. But Paul, when all is said and done, is not an area of intense interest for me – in comparison with other things.

And in that vein, I have other books that I’m very eager to write, on completely other topics.

My plan for the foreseeable future (read: until they carry me out feet first) is to write a trade book (i.e. for popular audiences) every two years. I have about four that I’m particularly eager to write, but I have to pace them out both so I can do other things I’m equally bent on doing –including more hardcore scholarship – and to keep from saturating the market more than it already is. In any event, there are two that are now vying for my attention, and I’m deciding which of the two to do. I’ll devote this post and the next one to describing them, and I would welcome comments from anyone, once I’ve made the second post, about which they think I should do first.

 

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My Other Next Book
Interview for The Skeptic Fence Show

32

Comments

  1. Avatar
    JudithW.Coyle  May 19, 2014

    Thanks for letting us in on what you might do next. It’s exciting and makes me feel like we’re on your team!

  2. Avatar
    FrancisDunn  May 19, 2014

    Dr. Ehrman: I am excited to about your new book. I have always wondered why the Jewish people would ever give up their precious scriptures to (for lack of a better word) pagans. I have a couple questions: Number 1 How do you suppose they would have removed Jesus from the cross?. There were no claw hammers or crowbars in those days. They would have to rip his hands and feet completely off. The one heel bone that was discovered has the nail still in it, bent over. It looked like it was sawed off. Number 2: WHO took him down from the cross, surely not the Romans? The Jews couldn’t touch a dead body it would have made them impure and unable to celebrate passover. Please forgive a 65 year old man. I have nothing better to think about in my retirement. haha

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 20, 2014

      They did have tools that could remove nails and the like, but I don’t know if they were like claw hammers like hammers for one side and pliers for the other; the ankle of Yehohanan was not sawed off. Good point about impurity, but according to the earliest Gospels, this was the morning *after* the meal had been eaten, so it would not have been as pressing. In the Gospels it is, of course, a leading Jew Joseph of Arimathea; my best historical guess is that it was instead the Romans, who normally would have done that kind of work to dispose the body after a few days.

  3. Avatar
    Yentyl  May 20, 2014

    Prophets: Nevaiim.

  4. Avatar
    Srhyner@comcast.net  May 20, 2014

    Dr. Ehrman, at the bar at the end of a long day, do leading NT scholars all kind of see Jesus as simply one in a long line of apocalyptic crackpots, whose legend persisted merely due to good timing, luck, and (eventually) positive press? If we really wanted, it seems it would be easy to reduce Jesus to that. Yet clearly, many NT scholars still identify as “believing” Christians. Can you elucidate on how they manage to hold on to their faith – or perhaps better stated, could you ask a few to respond? Because I’m certainly struggling with retaining mine. I have no trouble respecting and valuing the many good elements of the Christian belief system — Jesus need not “be” the Son of God for those principles to be worthwhile. But if the scholarship rather clearly demonstrates that the “historical Jesus” doesn’t exactly match with the Jesus many of us have come to “know” through faith teaching….how do other NT scholars integrate that into their belief systems? Is he an end-of-days wingnut or a spiritual/social visionary…or both? I understand that your beliefs eventually moved to agnosticism, so you likely can’t speak to this directly, but would others be willing to do so? Thanks for the wonderful research, accessible books, and great forum.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  May 20, 2014

      I keep telling my Christian friends that they REALLY need to write that book, that there are tons of people who are interested in precisely this question. But for some reason they refuse! There are very sophisticated theological views out there that can easily accommodate an apocalytpic, very human, and much mistaken Jesus. I wish I could get one of my friends at least to write some posts about it for us!

      • Avatar
        asahagian  May 20, 2014

        I wonder if they already feel their own faith is on a ‘knife edge’ and worry that going into more depth would simply finish them off!

  5. Avatar
    fishician  May 20, 2014

    Paul claims that the Scriptures foretell Jesus, the other NT writers quote Scripture (OT) to support their views of Jesus (usually out of context), yet as you have pointed out no one before Christianity envisioned a crucified Messiah (even Paul acknowledged that idea was a problem for Jews and nonsense to Gentiles). So, whatever book you write, I hope you address what the Jews were expecting as compared to what the Christians came up with. (It frustrates me that Paul says things like, “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3), but doesn’t bother to make his case by quoting those scriptures! )

  6. Avatar
    toejam  May 20, 2014

    Sounds interesting – like a different take on the standard ‘history of the canon’-type of books. Curious to hear what else you have up your sleeve!

  7. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  May 20, 2014

    This “Battle for Scripture” sounds fascinating to me. I look forward to hearing about the second book.

  8. Avatar
    willow  May 20, 2014

    Hey, Bart. Question: The New Testament relies on the Old to prove “Jesus”, doesn’t it? Albeit, through a whole lot of mistranslation and misunderstanding. However could they (the church) separate itself from it? Where would it leave Jesus not to have been born a virgin, or to have been determined to be the suffering servant?

    You read Hebrew. I didn’t know that, but could have guessed as much. You know then that there’s a word for “pierced” (pierce/pierce through) and it’s daqar.

    Should you write such a book, it might well be the most important one yet. In my humble opinion, anyway.

  9. Avatar
    thelad2  May 20, 2014

    Bart, looking forward to your future efforts. Any thoughts on N.T. Wright’s new work on Paul?

  10. Avatar
    TrevorN  May 20, 2014

    Adopted or Adapted?

  11. Avatar
    ERHershman  May 20, 2014

    Fascinating! I just finished a doctoral level seminar on Jewish-Christian relations to about 600 CE, where we spent a lot of time discussing how the Christian view of the Hebrew Bible developed, especially in the second century with the apologists like Justin Martyr. This sounds like a great idea for a book! I know I’d enjoy reading it.

  12. Avatar
    Wilusa  May 21, 2014

    Sounds very important *and* very interesting! Now I’m going on to read about the other possibility…

  13. Avatar
    CarlGregg  May 22, 2014

    There’s a great quote along these lines from Harold Bloom’s book “Jesus and Yahweh” about the Christian use of Jewish scripture: “Christianity stole our watch and has spent 2,000 years telling us what time it is.”

  14. Avatar
    Unhookthestars  May 31, 2014

    Would you recommend James Tabor’s Paul and Jesus?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  June 1, 2014

      I’m afraid I haven’t read it! But I’m sure it will be intelligent and … controversial!

      • Avatar
        Unhookthestars  June 2, 2014

        Thanks for the response, Bart. Tabor’s book came out in 2013 (as you probably know) and has gotten terrific reviews from critics and the general public. However, I’ve been loath to pick up a copy because (1) I don’t always trust reader and even newspaper critics’ (as opposed to scholarly) reviews and (2) I’ve sometimes wondered if I can trust MY own ability to assess a work of history, particularly after reading your extensive analysis of the mistakes in Reza Aslan’s “Zealot” – a book whose statements of historical “fact” I took on faith until you set me straight. That said, the consensus seems to be that Tabor as a rule bases his conclusions, however controversial they may be, on firm historical ground. Can I assume this is what you mean in predicting his book on Paul will be “intelligent”?

        • Bart Ehrman
          Bart Ehrman  June 2, 2014

          No, I don’t take a stand on whether his views are historically accurate or trustworthy or not. I’m simply saying he’s a smart guy and knows a lot. Whether he’s right about his thesis is another question!

          • Avatar
            Unhookthestars  June 3, 2014

            Thanks for the clarification, Bart! I guess I’ll really have to read Tabor’s book to see assess his thesis myself. 😉

  15. Avatar
    dscotth  June 24, 2014

    What do you think of “The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church’s Conservative” by Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan?

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