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Some Reading Suggestions on the New Testament

QUESTION:

I’ve enjoyed reading “Jesus Interrupted” and “Misquoting Jesus”. I am also listening to two of The Teaching Company courses you recorded – “The New Testament” and “Lost Christianities”. Here is my question: Can you suggest additional books by other authors that provide balanced information on the New Testament? Such a bibliography would be a nice addition to your web site.

 

RESPONSE:

Ah yes!  It’s important to hear various (balanced) views.  I tell my students this and they sometimes are surprised, since they think that I imagine that my view is the only one worth hearing!  But in my textbook on the New Testament (The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings) I provide suggestions for further reading at the end of each of the thirty chapters, for each relevant topic.  I include, in virtually every chapter, an important book that I completely disagree with.  Students, of every age, should get a range of perspective, weigh evidence, and make a decision for themselves.

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    cgstrat  June 17, 2012

    Would books by Gerd Lüdemann go on either your recommended or not recommended list?

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  June 18, 2012

      Recommended! He’s a top rate scholar, but seen in Germany as a real maverick, since he is a non-believer who has no qualms about trying to call into question many traditional assumptions and beliefs of other (Christian) New Testament scholars.

  2. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  June 18, 2012

    1. For those who have an interest, Dr. Martin’s Open Yale Course is available free on the Internet.

    2. After having read most of Dr. Ehrman’s books written for the public and having taken all of his Teaching Company courses, I am now studying the fifth edition of his New Testament textbook. This book is amazing with its highlight boxes, colored photos, glossary, timelines, and website teaching aids. I highly recommend it. I would not, however, call it an “Introduction,” as the title of the book suggests, but rather an “Analysis.” It is much, much more than an “Introduction.”

    3. Somewhere in my Ehrman readings, probably in “Did Jesus Exist?,” I think Dr. Ehrman stated that a “physical” resurrection is rarely reported in mythology. I think one such report is that of Bodhidharma, a Buddhist who lived in the fifth or sixth century, and was evidently observed after his death walking with one sandal and then a sandal was found in his empty tomb. Of course, this description of Bodhidharma occurred after the Resurrection so could not have influenced the report of the Resurrection of Jesus. It reminds me of the report of Mohammad being taken up by a horse to see deceased prophets which resembles the transfiguration of Jesus in that it is a story that may have been influenced by descriptions of Jesus.

    • Avatar
      Jim Joyner  June 22, 2012

      Dr. Ehrman,

      Please ask the publisher of your new NT textbook to release it on Kindle.
      Really, all of your books ought to be available on tablet readers.
      Thanks!

  3. Avatar
    SJB  June 18, 2012

    Prof Ehrman

    In response to a post I made over in another thread you said

    “If people like that kind of thing, it will be easy enough to do more, in a variety of areas (as long as people tell me what they’re interested in).”

    Sooo…

    Commentaries on MARK.

    Discussions of JOHN THE BAPTIST. Who he was or might have been, his relationship with Jesus, the relationship between John’s followers and Jesus’ followers after their deaths,how the gospels treat him, etc.

    Books that discuss the milieu out of which the gospels appeared. Their intended audience, etc. Especially the Gospel of John.

    Whew! That should keep me busy for a while!

    Thanks

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  June 18, 2012

      OK, I’ll see what I can come up with, at some point, on the blog. Thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Avatar
    Bill  June 18, 2012

    Something a bit different.

    After 38 years in the Lutheran pastorate (now ret.), I have come to recognize from a lecture by Shayne Cohen at Harvard, that the term/description, Jews, does not appear in the Hebrew Bible (OT). They self identified as Israel. Now in the NT, the gospels speak of The Jews (the leadership?). Now, is this term used by these educated gospel writers, to begin to distinguish the various Jesus movements, (also Israeli people – Jewish) from those Judeans who did not follow Jesus? Put another way, why use Jews when it had not been ‘used’ before? It seems a new historical name was created to tell the gospel stories.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  June 19, 2012

      Good question. The word is the same word that is sometimes translated “Judeans,” meaning, of course, someone from Judea (what in the OT had been the nation of Judah). There are debates over whether it is legitimately taken to mean “Jew” in a religious/cultural sense in parts of the NT, or whether it is better to understand it as someone who lives in, or has allegiance to, Judea.

  5. Avatar
    PaulH  June 19, 2012

    Just ordered volume 1 of the Anchor Bible Dictonary from Amazon for $40. Looking forward to it arriving in the mail.

    I’ve also recently finished reading your book on the Gospel of Judas. Great read. Almost starts off like a Dan Brown novel. Very interesting to see how the Gnostics viewed Jesus and their “true” God.

  6. Brad Billips
    Brad Billips  June 19, 2012

    Christian conservatives tend to quote C.S. Lewis a lot. I was wondering where scholars put his knowledge. My guess would be: not very much!! He maybe a theologian of such. I have never even read a sentence of his work. But, Christians love him.

    For the other members: I love Elaine Pagels’ books. She is not as clear as Dr. Ehrman though. I also like Richard Elliot Friedman’s books. Even though he is a Hebrew Bible scholar, he delivers to that material just as good as Dr. Ehrman does to the New Testament. In my opinion.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  June 19, 2012

      C.S. Lewis is obviously highly influential, at least in evangelical circles. He was not trained as a theologian or a philosopher, let alone as an apologist or (least of all) a biblical scholar. So scholars in those fields (except apologetics) do not read him as an authority. But he was one smart and clever fellow, obviously.

  7. John4
    John4  June 26, 2015

    What would you recommend, Bart, for the history of early Christianity? The second and third centuries are hard for me to sort out.

    Thx! 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  June 26, 2015

      Well, an old classic that a lot of people still like is Henry Chadwick’s The Early Church. One of my goals is to write an introductory history, from Jesus to Constantine. (I do have a Great Courses course on that, if you want to go that route.)

  8. John4
    John4  June 27, 2015

    Perfect! Chadwick is available on on iBooks and I downloaded the sample.

    But, I may try the Great Courses thing first and see if that doesn’t do it for me.

    And, of course, I look forward to your *Triumph of Christianity* when you get to it. 🙂

    I can’t tell you, Bart, how very much I have enjoyed your books (I’m on my fifth one of yours currently, having gobbled up four since Spring Break) and your blog. Unlike you, I’ve stayed in the church despite the dent to my integrity inherent in my reciting the Apostle’s Creed on Sunday mornings. Well, we all do the best we can. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years looking at and being nurtured by the devotional approaches to the Bible. But, it has long been the secular scholarship like yours which has allowed me to make sense of things (to the extent that I have been able to make sense of things, lol). I long ago came to terms with the Old Testament, reading stuff like Shank’s (now defunct) *Bible Review* magazine and its many related offerings. The New Testament, though, has been more of a challenge for me. Especially Paul. But, in you I’ve found a guide who makes sense to me and it is a big deal in my life. Many, many, many thanks. 🙂

  9. Avatar
    Chrishuntley  December 4, 2018

    Hello Bart,
    I’d love to see a more organized page with your book recommendations broken down by category.

    For example, your top recommendations for:
    Early church history
    Who wrote the NT
    Apocryphal writings
    Formation of the NT canon
    Inconsistencies in the gospels
    Non-orthodox beliefs about Jesus in the early church
    and so on…

    Could be a great income source for the blog if you recommend 3-5 books per category, and hook it up to an Amazon Associates account. The blog would get 4% of everything purchased thru your recommendations!

    Thanks.

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