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Reading The Triumph of Christianity at Quail Ridge Books

On Tuesday February 13, 2018 at 7:00pm, I had a book reading based on my new book “The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World” at Quail Ridge Books located in Raleigh, North Carolina.    I read excerpts for about 30 minutes, then took questions.

Here it is, for your viewing pleasure or amusement!

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My Upcoming Writing Plans: The Afterlife and the Afterlife
Early Christology: How I Changed My Mind



  1. Avatar
    ardeare  March 4, 2018

    In general, do you think first century Christians were more scripturally sound than today’s Christians. In this case, I am referring specifically to their understanding and learning of the Old Testament.

    • Bart
      Bart  March 5, 2018

      I’m not sure what “scripturally sound” means.

      • Avatar
        The Agnostic Christian  March 5, 2018

        Right, because first you must define othodoxy. They were not “scripturally sound” according to the Jews whose wrote the Old Testament.

        “Scripturally sound” is usually Christianeze for “those who agree with my interpretation of the Bible.”

        But at the same time, and here’s a question, is it possible that the proto-orthodox, as you refer to them, were closer to the theological understanding of the NT authors than modern Evangelicals are? If so can we know in what ways?

        • Bart
          Bart  March 6, 2018

          Yes, it’s possible. But they too were altering interpretations based on their own contexts.

  2. Avatar
    Jim Cherry  March 4, 2018

    Enjoyed it very much.
    Thank you.

  3. Avatar
    Thomasfperkins  March 4, 2018

    Any book readings in Chapel Hil or nearby on 3/28/2018?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 5, 2018

      I’m afraid I’ve done all my book readings around Chapel Hill (Fly Leaf; MacIntyres; Bull’s Head).

  4. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  March 4, 2018

    Great post! This is a bit of a rant. Don’t care for the word “pagan” much anymore. It has a Christian centric bias with a bit of derogatory connotations. I wish we could come up with a better word for non-Christian religions!

    • Liam Foley
      Liam Foley  March 5, 2018

      Dr. Ehrman, I want to add, my rant about the term “pagan” was not meant as personal criticism of your usage of the word in the book. I do understand that there isn’t another colloquial term used to define non-Christian relions especially in the ancient world.

      • Bart
        Bart  March 5, 2018

        Not a problem. It’s a problematic term, but no better term is out there I’m afraid.

  5. Avatar
    jdub3125  March 5, 2018

    Professor, speaking of the book will your publisher be giving you some tickets for basketball in NYC this week?

  6. Avatar
    Hume  March 5, 2018

    I put my dog who couldn’t walk or barely breathe down yesterday, and I feel guilt and betrayal for doing that. How do you deal with intense grief?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 5, 2018

      Please accept my condolences. I know how hard that is. I’ve got the same problem. Our extremely beloved standard poodle was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer two weeks ago (the same day we had to decide to put down our beloved cat of 16 years!), and we have to decide what to do. Our view: Quality of life is far, far, more important than longevity. You did your dog a great service in an act of love. It’s best to remember your superb intentions and remember all the good times you had together.

      • Avatar
        Hume  March 5, 2018

        Thanks Bart. For these insights, even if I know that’s the right thing it’s good to hear it. I’m going to forward this to my parents and sister.

      • Avatar
        Judith  March 5, 2018

        You and Sarah have my sympathy, Dr. Ehrman.

        • Bart
          Bart  March 6, 2018

          Thanks. It’s been a rough time….

          • Rick
            Rick  March 7, 2018

            Reminds me of a thought I had during your earlier discussions on the background of heaven and various ancient views (or not) of an afterlife…. The thought was the only “afterlife” worth having would have to start with the rainbow bridge!

      • Avatar
        jdub3125  March 6, 2018

        It is very sad, and everyone who has had and lost a long-lived pet knows what it feels like. Some people find comfort in adopting a new pet.

    • Avatar
      rmallard  March 7, 2018

      Hume–last year I had to make that same decision to put my dog, Casper, to sleep. Like yours, he was elderly and suffering. For me, holding his paw as he was euthanized I felt a sense of relief that his suffering had ended and knowing that I and my family had given him a peaceful, non-fearful death made the loss easier. It sounds as if you made the right decision and it sounds like you too had given your dog a fulfilling life. Your dog’s life is the memory to hold on to. Two weeks ago I had to make the same decision about one of my lovely cats. It’s never easy but please accept my condolences and I hope your pet always knew how important he was to you.

  7. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  March 5, 2018

    I took your advice and reread Galatians 2. Lots there! “James and Cephas and John.” Paul never mentions that John had a brother. Do you think Mark or the oral tradition that developed after Paul invented (or “remembered”) a second son of Zebedee to gloss over the fact that one of the big 3 in Jerusalem was in fact a brother of Jesus who was not one of the 12, nor even a follower while Jesus was preaching?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 5, 2018

      Paul is simply mentioning the three leaders of the church in Jerusalem. James wasn’t one of them. It was a very common name, and there appears little reason to doubt that this particular James was a brother of one of the leaders. His namesake, the brother of Jesus, however, was.

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  March 5, 2018

        I’m confused. I assumed the James whom Paul mentions is the brother of Jesus. I was asking if a leader of the Jerusalem church named James might have mistakenly been presumed to be one of the Twelve, causing folks, Mark for example, to remember a disciple who never lived.

        • Bart
          Bart  March 6, 2018

          That’s right, it’s the brother of Jesus. Mark knows of *both* James’s (he mentions them both).

      • Avatar
        DavidNeale  March 6, 2018

        I sometimes wonder how the Hebrew Jacob, Greek Iakobos and Latin Iacobus got transformed into “James” in English. (Why don’t we just call these figures Jacob?) The dictionary etymology says it’s from Middle French “Gemmes”, but I’m not a linguist. Maybe someone on the blog knows…

        • Bart
          Bart  March 6, 2018

          Yeah, I’m not sure. That kind of thing happens (think of American nicknames: my grandfather Henry was known as Hank; and Theodore becomes Teddy).

          • talmoore
            talmoore  March 6, 2018

            Also, John became Jack; Edward became Ned or Ted. In Spanish, Francisco became Paco and Ignacio became Nacho.

            If I were to take a stab at the etymology of James, I would think that the voiced bilabial fricative “b” in Iakobus became the voiced bilabial nasel “m”. (Notice as you make both sounds that the only difference between them is that with the M you open the velum and B you keep it closed.) Then the “k” sound became a guttural glottal stop, eventually disappearing altogether. So it could have gone something like this:


          • Avatar
            SidDhartha1953  March 9, 2018

            And the truly odd Dick for Richard. Rhyming slang (Richard>Rick>Dick) perhaps?

          • Rick
            Rick  March 9, 2018

            Truly admire all who can work these languages. So, if Joshua (Yohohoshua) went through Aramaic then Greek and Latin to become Jesus, and Jacob similarly became James, how were these namesakes eponym’s translated in the Septuagent? They appear have made it through into the English old trestament as Joshua and Jacob…. So, the “correct” translations were known…? in other words why were the New Testament versions mangled when the Old Testament versions were not?

          • Bart
            Bart  March 11, 2018

            Joshua is Jesus and Jacob is Jacobus.

  8. Avatar
    Jana  March 5, 2018

    I have your book! Eager to read.

  9. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  March 5, 2018

    Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Avatar
    godspell  March 5, 2018

    Finished it a few days ago. Very impressed–this required, I would think, more cross-disciplinary study than some of your other books. Your work for a general audience are noted for being accesssible to a lay audience without dumbing anything down, and this is no exception.

    I have some quibbles. I can mention those some other time. 🙂

  11. Avatar
    jdub3125  March 6, 2018

    Professor in the picture at the beginning of this post the red video play button seems to cover your forehead. Too bad it isn’t located instead on the top of your head, where upon a passing glance it might have resembled a MAGA cap. You would have looked sharp !

  12. Avatar
    Duke12  March 8, 2018

    According to the impeccable source known as Wikipedia, the “late Latin” form of the Iakovos (Jacob) was Iacomus. The English form “James” descended from this Latin version via the French.

  13. Avatar
    rburos  March 8, 2018

    I see CNN is going to show “The Pope” about the history and progress of the Catholic Church. Would you provide a review afterward?

    • Bart
      Bart  March 9, 2018

      I should watch it! But I’m not sure I’ll be able to.

  14. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  March 9, 2018

    I learned from Candida Moss’s «The Myth of Persecution» that the mythical Josaphat (of Barlaam and Josaphat notoriety) takes his name from a misreading of the Sanskrit B as a Y/J. So Bodisat (my usernamesake) became Josaphat.

  15. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  March 9, 2018

    Which reminds me. Prof. Moss says in her book that, though early Christians modeled their stories of martyrdom after Greek and Jewish (particularly Maccabean) noble death narratives, they would never venerate those prechristian heroes as saints. Actually, modern Orthodox Christians do venerate some OT figures as saints. Do you know (or might you ask her to post on) whether that was a later development in Orthodox practice than the period she is writing about and why BCE Jews, but not pagans, could be saints? Her book makes for a great follow-up to your Triumph!

  16. Avatar
    Ryan  March 27, 2018

    Hello Bart. I finally got around to reading your new book. I really liked it. It goes along well with your course:


    The mathematician in me wants to say something about the “numbers game” you play in there (trying to figure out a growth rate). In my humble opinion, a better approach would be to secure as many data points as you can and then try to fit the data (power-law, cubic spline, etc.) because it really makes no sense to talk about percentage increase per year or to average that out; arithmetical means don’t tell us much that is very useful.


    • Bart
      Bart  March 28, 2018

      I wish we had more data points! But I take your critique.

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