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Video of How Jesus Became God, Part 1 (of 3)

On January 29-31, 2016, I gave three talks at Coral Gables Congregational Church in (surprise) Coral Gables, Florida, on my book, “How Jesus Became God.”  I will post all three talks periodically here on teh blog.  Here’s the first!  Rev. Megan Smith opened each session for me.

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How Jesus Became God -UCC Part 1 of 3:

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Speaking in Churches as an Agnostic; and Jewish Beliefs about Afterlife. Readers Mailbag August 13, 2016
Why Scholars Aren’t Trained To Write Trade Books

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Comments

  1. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  August 12, 2016

    Hello Bart… I have a few questions if you have the time to answer.. ” The gospel of Peter..”
    Two men who had much radiance?? What does that mean? What is being said in your opinion?

    [35] But in the night in which the Lord’s day dawned, when the soldiers were safeguarding it two by two in every watch, there was a loud voice in heaven; [36] and they saw that the heavens were opened and that two males who had much radiance had come down from there and come near the sepulcher

    And being miday and darkness fell?

    But is was midday, and darkness held fast all Judea; Midday and darkness fell

    Having lamps in their hands and fell thinking it was night?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2016

      It means that they were glowing very brightly. And yes, it allegedly became mysteriously dark (as in a full eclipse?)

      • Josephsluna
        Josephsluna  August 14, 2016

        One more thing for now… Gospel of Thomas logion 30 Bart, what is your take on this?

        (30) Jesus said, “Where there are three gods, they are gods. Where there are two or one, I am with him

        (30) “Jesus there! Gods! Are one with Jesus.
        Gods! There! Jesus!”

        • Bart
          Bart  August 15, 2016

          I’ve never been entirely sure about that one!

          1
          • Josephsluna
            Josephsluna  August 15, 2016

            Bart…. the story of the City of Atlantis. It was passed down to Plato from Solon that went to Egypt and what did the priest tell him That City of Atlantis was before the establishment of Egypt? The Egyptians them selfs say that it was before them.. The Olympians? Poseidon, Hades, Zeus and all the others …the Offsprings..
            The priest of Egypt how did they receive that knowledge. My question is … Do we know how old the story really is..?

            1
          • Bart
            Bart  August 17, 2016

            I”m not familiar wiht it prior to Plato.

            1
          • Josephsluna
            Josephsluna  August 16, 2016

            What about #114?

            Everyone knows Mary was a common name back then and the story of the women that washed his feet with Tears
            And poured perfume etc ..And he spoke of debt.. Think this story is interesting as well .. But 114 that is written somewhere else in a Similar way.. I say anything is possible..

            (114) Simon Peter said to him, “Let Mary leave us, for women are not worthy of life.”

            ” Simon to Mary women worthy

            Worthy women Mary to Simon “

          • Bart
            Bart  August 17, 2016

            It’s a thorny saying that requires a lot to unpack it!

            1
  2. John4
    John4  August 12, 2016

    All the money goes to good causes, *rather* than to line your pockets, Bart, lol.

    Thanks so much for your blog! 🙂

    1
  3. Josephsluna
    Josephsluna  August 12, 2016

    Blog about the builders at Baalbek before the Romans arrived!

  4. Avatar
    SidDhartha1953  August 12, 2016

    When you articulate Jesus’s apocalyptic message to an audience, it sometimes sounds as if your are warning your audience of what will become of them if they don’t stop living for themselves and start doing what the Jesus and the other prophets teach. Is that deliberate and do you sometimes find that it strikes a nerve with your listeners?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2016

      I’m not a believer! I’m not sure why I would want to pursue a religious agenda!

      • SBrudney091941
        SBrudney091941  August 15, 2016

        Great video, Bart, great lecture. I love how excited you get at times–like a little kid who wants to share his new toy. A few points:
        1. visually, it’d be nice if someone could take down the screen once you’re done with it instead of having that big glaring white square in the video.
        2. I really wanted to hear the congregants’ questions and really appreciate your repeating them but I often missed it because, your mic wouldn’t kick in until you were almost done repeating the question.
        3. Love the example of Matthew 25:31-46. There are other places Jesus talks about getting into heaven (the Kingdom?) without mentioning belief in him. Love it!
        4. I understand that “the Jews” in John 10:30 pick up rocks and clearly take Jesus to be identifying himself as God. But in verse 36 he seems to back away from the strength of that claim: “because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me 38 …. understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” And, in 17:11, he speaks to the Father about the crowd before him, “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.” I don’t think he is asking God to make them identical with Him or with one another. Rather, when he then says, “That they may be bound together with Thee, Father, as you and I are….” he seems to mean something like “one in spirit” like a team might be.
        5. Is there any way to know how many of the 2 million+ Jews living around the Mediterranean and Babylon were apocalyptic? We need a Howard Zinn-like book, A Jewish People’s History of the Jewish People.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 17, 2016

          I think #5 is your only question. Short answer: no, no way!!

          • SBrudney091941
            SBrudney091941  August 17, 2016

            Thanks. And how about John 17:11? Wouldn’t you agree that, what Jesus says to the Father about the crowd before him implies a quite different meaning than in 10:30?
            “Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”

            I don’t think he is asking God to make them identical with Him or with one another. Rather, when he then says, “That they may be bound together with Thee, Father, as you and I are….” he seems to mean something like “one in spirit” like a team might be.

          • Bart
            Bart  August 18, 2016

            I”m not sure it’s completely different. It seems to mean something like “complete and utter coherence in purpose and understanding” but it *could* be taken more mystically to mean “united” in spirit….

  5. talmoore
    talmoore  August 13, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman, do churches hire you to lecture on Christianity knowing that you’re an atheist? Do you ever get tempted to say, “Let’s be honest here. I think all of your cherished religious beliefs are baloney, but I’ll humor you for the next couple of hours.” That’s how I feel when I tell someone that they can accept the Theory of Evolution and still believe in God, eventhough, deep down inside, I know that Evolution and God mix like oil and water, so I simply humor them.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2016

      Ha! Actually not really. I think I’ll deal with this on my Readers mailbag.

  6. Avatar
    Michael Sommers  August 13, 2016

    Regarding the trial, would the Jewish leaders in fact have been defiled if they had entered the, for lack of a better word, courtroom?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2016

      There’s no reason tehy should be, unless the praetorium was located, say, on a cemetery (since contact with dead bodies was defiling)

      • Avatar
        Michael Sommers  August 13, 2016

        I wonder why, then, “John” included that detail. What did he achieve by having Pilate run back and forth (except to make Pilate, and the story, seem ridiculous)?

        • Bart
          Bart  August 15, 2016

          There are several reasons, very interesting ones! Maybe I’ll add the question to the Readers Mailbag.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  August 13, 2016

      I would argue that it depends on that you mean by “leaders” and “courtroom”. If by leaders we’re talking about Priests who were, presumably, concerning themselves solely with getting and keeping ritually clean in order to officiate the Passover rituals, then, yeah, just about anything they did other than that could “defile” them to some extent. That’s one of the reasons that Roman secular authorities were charged with keeping peace and order in the Temple during festivals (which Priests and Levites would normally do on normal days), because the religious authorities had to remain undefiled. Also, if by “courtroom” they mean the home of a religious leader, or, ever worse, a Roman authority — possibly even the Fortress Antonia itself — then, yes, that would also have “defiled” those Priests.

      We need to remember that the Jews of Jerusalem, especially the Priests and Levites, had a very stringent CYA policy when it came to possible defilement, and that was even more the case during Festivals. (For example, dogs were completely forbidden from Jerusalem, one reasoning being that dogs are very fond of bones — as we all know — and a dog might dig up human remains and accidentally carry a human bone into the city, thus potentially defiling who knows how much of the city. That should give you an idea of how serious the religious authorities of Jerusalem were.) They were very, very, very strict about that kind of stuff, which is one of the reasons that the supposed trial of Jesus before the Sanhedrin is so far-fetched to begin with. If anything, Jesus was probably brought before Pilate and only Pilate (i.e. no Jewish authorities at all). Pilate asked Jesus a few questions about what he and his followers were up to, and, apparently, Pilate wasn’t satisfied by Jesus’ answers, and, since as a Roman Governer Pilate had the authority over life and death, Pilate simply ordered Jesus executed. It was probably just that simple. All that trial stuff we read in the Gospels is likely fiction.

  7. Avatar
    Omar6741  August 13, 2016

    Unrelated Question: In Matthew 23, Jesus says to the crowds “You have one teacher, the Christ”. Since he is so reticent about identifying himself as “the Christ”, how can he demand that people follow the teachings of “the Christ” when he has not made clear who “the Christ” is?
    I can’t even find a commentary dealing with this! Thanks!

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2016

      In Matthew’s Gospel there is not ambiguity: Jesus is the Christ.

      • Avatar
        Omar6741  August 15, 2016

        There is certainly no ambiguity for Matthew. Yet when asked by the High Priest if he is the Christ, Jesus ambiguously replies “You say that I am.”
        Assuming this demand to follow the teachings of the Christ, as reported in Matthew, is historical — it could be — wouldn’t it follow Jesus believed someone else was the Christ?
        Thanks!

        • Bart
          Bart  August 17, 2016

          I don’t think Jesus ever suggests that anyone other than himself was the Christ in Matthew (or anywhere else in the NT)

  8. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  August 13, 2016

    Wow! I look forward to viewing them. Readers of this blog might be interested in all of your youtube videos which can be quickly accessed by clicking on the youtube icon on your homepage. The last time I counted there were 56 in all and I have been working my way through all of them. In some respects, these videos cover material more quickly and concisely than books do. I still think there are, at least, 3 Ehrman doppelgangers: One who writes books, one who writes this blog, and one who does the youtube videos. The real Ehrman is a professor at UNC.

  9. Avatar
    rivercrowman  August 13, 2016

    Bart obviously enjoys having free reign on time, to go beyond the traditional 50-minute college lecture, ended by a bell. … But these predominantly senior members of a main stream denomination appeared to stay right with him. Good job!

    • Bart
      Bart  August 13, 2016

      Yes, luckily this wasn’t delivered in a college classroom: students would have left before I was done! But every speaking gig has it’s own time limits (that the organizers are sure to tell teh speaker in advance!)

  10. Avatar
    Wilusa  August 13, 2016

    Terrific! I didn’t expect you to give so much background before dealing with the specific topic of how (and when) the earliest Christians came to think of Jesus as “God.” Can’t wait for the next installment!

    I was pleasantly surprised that an audience made up of church members seemed to react so positively to what you were saying.

  11. Avatar
    Tempo1936  August 13, 2016

    What a great teaching video . Thank you.
    Did Paul write his epistles reflecting Jesus as God before ad 70?
    Did John and Luke use Paul to prepare their gospels ?
    Were The Gospels of Matthew and Mark written before or after Paul?
    What are other references for when the Gospels and Paul were written.

    Your distinguished historical scholarship and writings have had a great influence in churches changing and preaching jesus’ message was doing righteous deeds and being kind. It’s how you live your life in service to others.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2016

      1. Yes, he died in the mid 60s 2. There is very little evidence to suggest they did. 3. After Paul, Mark around 70 CE and Matthew around 80-85 CE

  12. Avatar
    marcrm68  August 13, 2016

    How Jesus Became God was a seminal book for me in understanding Christianity ( although not nearly your first book that I read ). I enjoyed the video!!

    Can you comment on your upcoming debate with Dr. Robert Price? This is bigger than the Super Bowl for me?

    How were you persuaded to do it? And are you aware of the massive interest it has created?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2016

      Ha! I haven’t even started thinking about it. No, I’m not aware of it at all, as it turns out! How strange!

  13. Avatar
    Tempo1936  August 13, 2016

    Regarding the earliest writings, I found this response from December 2015 which seems to answer my previous questions….
    “The earliest author, Paul, holds to this view (Romans 3:23-28), and he indicates that this is the view he first preached to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 15:3-5), in a passage which he claims was “handed over to him” by those who were before him. That is usually taken to mean that this was the standard preaching of his predecessors before he began his missionary journeys — so back in the early to mid 30s.”

    If The writing of the Mark and Matthew gospels were after Paul , is it likely they must not have been aware of Paul’s writings or they would have included a higher view of Jesus’ deity and his knowledge of the reason for his humiliating crucifixion?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2016

      Yes, there is no evidence that the later Gospels knew about Paul’s writings. That’s not so strange in the ancient context, where books could not be mass produced or distributed. Most books were not known by most people!

  14. Avatar
    wisemenwatch  August 14, 2016

    Dr. Ehrman, you’re going to hate me for this, but I see something different as far as Jesus promising “rulerships” to the 12 disciples.

    I am referring to all the “celestial”, “cosmic”, and “heaven”ly adjectives here; even the mention of an eclipse (and coming on the heels of the short discussion on Constantine and Sol Invictus).

    I must point out the double meaning of the word “ruler”, as it pertains astrologically to the 12 signs of the zodiac that revolve around the sun. Each one of those signs “rule” a particular part of life, and everything in the whole world is under those rulerships. But the sun is over all of them.

    I am only one third of the way through your presentation, and find you very easy to listen to and follow!

  15. Avatar
    mdwyer  August 14, 2016

    In part 2 of this lecture you say that Romans 1:3-4 is an example of pre literary belief embedded in the New Testament and that Paul does not agree with the view portrayed in these verses. If Paul does not agree with this view, then why does he put it in his epistle?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2016

      Ah, big question: too big for a brief comment! I’ll add it to my mailbag — or maybe even devote a few posts to it!

  16. Avatar
    HawksJ  August 15, 2016

    It is fascinating that they would bring you into lecture to the congregation on a topic that would seem so controversial to them. I’m curious how the church leadership framed that up; what was their stated objective?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 15, 2016

      To educate people in the views of scholarship!

      • Avatar
        HawksJ  August 17, 2016

        Good for them! If the church I grew up in had been that open and honest, I might very well still be part of the flock.

  17. Avatar
    hopefrees  August 15, 2016

    This is one of my favorite lectures. I eagerly anticipate more lectures & debates uploaded. I have seen all there is to see via YouTube and as part of my membership. One thing I appreciate about you Bart is that you didn’t turn into a jerk when you became an Agnostic. I find myself much in agreement with you and I used to be a fundamentalist. Most of my family members are Christian and descendants of a long line of Dutch Reformed Protestants and I have to say, they are all very good people and they’ve raised “good people”. No matter how my beliefs have changed I can’t go against them and start tearing them up, I used to “feel” the same way. Kind of funny though that now I am a “closet unbeliever”.

  18. Avatar
    Hume  August 16, 2016

    Hi Bart. All of your work is incredible. Two questions:

    1. Do you think you would get a professorship if you had all your same credentials as you do now and North Carolina interviewed you as an atheist/agnostic?

    2. What is your opinion of Christopher Hitchens and his work? He thought highly of you, and mentioned you frequently in his book God is not Great.

    Hope things are well 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  August 17, 2016

      1. yes, abstolutely: religious belief has no bearing on whether you get an academic position in the field (unless you’re a fundamentalist who cannot engage in serious scholarship) 2. Hitchens was incredibly smart and interesting!

  19. Avatar
    Hume  August 17, 2016

    Last question, but an important one I think.

    1. Do you believe ancient Jews and/or the highly trained greek speaking authors of the NT were influenced by the resurrection and passion myths surrounding Palestine in the ancient world when they wrote the Gospels? These include the famous ones of: Zalmoxis, Inanna/Ishtar, and Horus.

    Reason for Asking: I ask because you mentioned Enuma Elish probably influenced the flood story in the OT.

    Beyond many thanks!

    • Bart
      Bart  August 18, 2016

      I think there isn’t much evidence to suggest they were. The stories of Jesus’ resurrection originated among Jewish peasants from Palestine who were not versed at all in broader mythologies of the Roman world.

      • SBrudney091941
        SBrudney091941  August 18, 2016

        But you don’t have to reach outside first century Judaisms to believe someone was resurrected. That it was the begotten Son of God, on the other hand, seems like something the Greek-writing authors of the Gospels and Paul might have come up with under Hellenistic influence. No?

        • Bart
          Bart  August 19, 2016

          No, strictly speaking “resurrection” (the revivication of the flesh which then is made immortal) is a Jewish idea.

          • SBrudney091941
            SBrudney091941  August 19, 2016

            I was granting that resurrection was a Jewish idea and understand that, in the end, the righteous who had died will rise–I guess to be immortal (wasn’t clear on that). But Paul didn’t believe just that Christ was the first to rise and that his resurrection was a sign of the end times. He also ascribed a number of divine qualities to him and believed him to be the Son of God and wrote that one had to believe in him to join him. Doesn’t that sound more Hellenistic–even Mystery Cult–than Jewish?

          • Bart
            Bart  August 20, 2016

            Not sure if you’ve read my book How Jesus Became God, but that’s one of the issues that I address at length there.

  20. Avatar
    brandon284  September 5, 2016

    The translation of Jesus’ words from Aramaic to Greek to English was a highly interesting point of discussion. The example you used from Mark was fascinating. Could you give you few other examples Jesus’ sayings/teachings that we would better understand in the Aramaic context? I need to know more!

    • Bart
      Bart  September 6, 2016

      Ah, I need to think about that. It’s something I used to have on the top of my head twenty years ago, but I haven’t thought much about it since, so it’s either sunk deep or disappeared!

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