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153 of 164 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An agnostic's agenda?
I recall a reviewer of one of Ehrman's books observing the author as merely pushing his agnostic agenda. Fair comment, but for tackling a profound subject such as this what are the alternatives?

Well, and to make a few generalisations, erudite atheists such as Dawkins seemingly want the believer to see sense and start living a secularly productive life away...
Published on 20 Sep 2009 by T. Scott

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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as new as it seems
Ehrman has written a series of books, bringing to light the apocryphal works, the history of the formation of the New Testament, and now the contradictions in the biblical texts. For most readers this will be material that is new to them, and it is to some extent it is the Churches' fault that it is little known. (To some extent it is resistance from the "people in the...
Published on 11 Jan 2010 by A. McGuire


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 24 April 2012
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This review is from: Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) (Paperback)
Ehrman is a great guide to Christianity and the Bible because his own thorough research has led him him away from his original fundamentalist position. He is fearless in pointing out the contradictions in the Bible and explaining the many approaches to Christianity that were eventually suppressed as the official canon hardened. Yet he displays respect for Christianity and religion. People of all religious points of view can benefit from this book.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A scholarly and rational approach to the Gospels, 19 Dec 2010
By 
C. Collins (Austin, TX) - See all my reviews
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In recent years, I've come across a number of favourable references to Bart Ehrman and his work, in the course of my reading but, having never really considered a strong knowledge of The Bible to be a necessary weapon when debating with theists, I'd never taken the trouble, personally, to investigate the books of scholars, like Ehrman, who have endeavoured to share the fruits of their work with laypeople like myself. Reading online debates between theists and non-theists, however, on the subjects of, for example, the historicity of Jesus, the veracity of the Bible, etc, has brought me to wonder what I might be missing by not having a better understanding of the book that I've scarcely opened since the age of about 15 - the age at which I was confirmed into the protestant Church of England.

So, with that in mind, I became excited at the prospect of reading `Jesus, Interrupted', after having chanced across it in the local library, and Ehrman's book didn't disappoint. In fact, it kept me enthralled from the first page to the last. Certainly, I can safely say that I wish I'd purchased, or sought out, one of Ehrman's books long before now. Whilst `Jesus, Interrupted' is the first of Ehrman's books that I've had the pleasure of reading, it seems like it was an excellent place to start.

Whilst recounting many of the details of his own intellectual journey, Ehrman leads the reader through the New Testament, with particular emphasis on the 'Synoptic Gospels' (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John): In some detail, he discusses a number of the most glaring contradictions between their accounts including, for example, the day of Jesus' crucifixion and the details surrounding Jesus' alleged resurrection - all great stuff - before moving-on to the thorny question as to whom, exactly, these accounts might actually have been written by. To quote (p.105-6):

"Nothing in the Gospels or Acts indicates that Jesus' followers could read, let alone write.... As Galilean Jews, Jesus' followers, like Jesus himself, would have been speakers of Aramaic. As rural folk they probably would not have any knowledge of Greek; if they did, it would have been extremely rough, since they spent their time with other illiterate Aramaic-speaking peasants trying to eke out a hand-to-mouth existence.

In short, who were Jesus' disciples? Lower-class, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking peasants from Galilee.

And who were the authors of the Gospels? ... The authors of the Gospels were highly educated, Greek-speaking Christians who probably lived outside Palestine."

Having established the overwhelming likelihood that the Gospels were not written by eyewitnesses or by people who personally knew Jesus or even by people who personally knew the disciples of Jesus, Ehrman discusses what we might be able to 'know' about Jesus and about his life. In short, he accepts the existence of a historical Jesus but forcefully argues that there is no good reason to accept the presupposition of orthodox Christians that Jesus either knew, or believed himself to be 'divine', in the course of which discussion he lays waste to the 'Liar, Lunatic or Lord?' argument proffered by C.S. Lewis and by others since. Again, this is great stuff to someone not intimately acquainted with the details of the Gospel accounts; should I have more time, I would love to verify each of Ehrman's Biblical references for myself.

Ehrman provides tremendous insight into some of the historical forces behind modern day Christianity and the Bible, in the course of answering the questions, 'How We Got the Bible' and 'Who Invented Christianity?'. He also discusses the limits of historical investigation into the veracity of the Bible, specifically with reference to the allegedly 'supernatural' aspects, i.e. the miracles, which he places firmly beyond the grasp of over-zealous theists, or theologians, masquerading as historians.

"There is something historically problematic with his being raised from the dead, however. This is a miracle, and by the very nature of their craft, historians are unable to discuss miracles. That is my thesis in this final section. This thesis seems counterintuitive to some people: if something actually happened, even a miracle, isn't it subject to historical investigation? Isn't the refusal to consider the possibility of a miracle an antisupernatural bias? Do you think atheists are the only ones who can do history?" (p.172)

To answer this question, I am quoting only a short section of Ehrman's detailed answer:

"If historians can only establish what probably happened, and miracles by their definition are the least probable occurrences, then more or less by definition, historians cannot establish that miracles have ever probably happened....
Many Christians don't want to hear this, but the reality is that there are lots of other explanations for what happened to Jesus that are more probable than the explanation that he was raised from the dead. None of these explanations is very probable, but they are more probable, just looking at the matter historically, than the explanation of the resurrection." (p.176)

Some of Ehrman's most important conclusions, to my mind, are as follows:

1. All the evidence indicates that the Bible is, in fact, a collection of books written entirely (and solely) by fallible human individuals; individuals writing decades after the events that they allege took place; by individuals who were not eyewitnesses to the events they allege took place; by individuals, almost certainly, who did not even know, personally, any of the individuals actually believed to be 'eyewitnesses', e.g. the disciples.

2. The Bible gives no good reason to grant the theistic premise that Jesus knew, or understood himself to be 'divine'.

3. Because of the limits of historical investigation, the historian - qua historian - cannot conclude that the Bible, in itself, provides evidence for, or reason to accept, the many accounts of Jesus' miracles as being true.

To conclude this review, I highly recommend 'Jesus, Interrupted' to anyone wanting to gain a better understanding - a rational understanding, rather than a 'devotional' one - of the Bible, as a historical document. Whilst each of the above points might seem self-evident to many, or most, non-theists, Ehrman makes clear the reasons why these statements are so, in language that is non-partisan - i.e. in language that theists themselves ought to be able to understand; for that, this is a valuable book. So, whilst many will, undoubtedly, disagree with Ehrman's conclusions, what he has written will, at least, have to be taken seriously by Christian believers.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars You can stop flogging that horse -- it's dead already :), 24 Mar 2011
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This review is from: Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) (Paperback)
I enjoyed reading this book, I don't regret buying it, and I would recommend it to anybody with an interest in the history of religion and religious texts. But...

The problem I have is that Ehrman is writing as if his subject were contentious. Perhaps in the US, or at least in some parts of the US, it still is. But in the UK, well, I'm not so sure. In fact, Ehrman frankly admits that his views are uncontroverial and are essentially those routinely taught at Christian seminaries. So why the big deal?

There is new stuff in this book although, as other reviewers have commented, it's telling the same story as Lost Christianities and, in fact, most of Ehrman's other output. The central thesis is that Christianity as we know it today developed out of one particular strand of belief and practice, among the many that flourished in the 1st and 2nd centuries. The surving documents that make up the New Testament reflect, to some extent, that diversity, but not as much as the documents that never became canonical.

He tells the story very well -- I'm just not sure who it will be news to. I suspect that Christian believers will tend to the view that the emergence of Orthodoxy as we now understand it was the work of providence; while the agnostics will tend to see it as the result of social and political factors. But I don't think there's much disagreement on the general thrust of events.

I felt that this book was consierably more polemical than Lost Christianities, and not as good. There doesn't seem to me to be much point in arguing for something that few people who take an interest in the subject will disagree with, and when the people who don't agree will, by their very nature, be unconvinceable.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Some overlaps with Ehrman's other books, 24 Nov 2009
Bart Ehrman is a book writing machine. I had read his book on "Lost Gospels", which I found interesting at the time. I recently decided I wanted to get a bit deeper into the topic and looked up another one of his books. Choosing one was difficult as there appears to be much overlap in his production. I chose Jesus Interrupted as it seemed to focus on the history of the official bible more than on the "lost gospels" on which I had already read something.

In a nutshell, I found this book to be well written and worthy of attention, but I was also a bit disappointed to find fairly sizeable overlaps between "lost gospels" and "Jesus interrupted". This does not mean I regret having purchased and read this book, but this means I suspect I won't be looking too much further into Ehrman as I anticipate this would be a case of diminishing returns.

I am not particularly knowledgeable in the field of Bible studies. In fact I have never read the New Testament in full. But as an otherwise reasonably well read person, given the overall impact of Christianity on western culture I'm obviously very familiar with many themes and episods from the new testament. Where Ehrman opened my eyes is where he shows that there are a number of episods in various Gospels that seem to be logically incompatible with each others. For instance, did Jesus spend his childhood in Egypt or in Nazareth? I had probably seen stories mentioning either possibility, but I had never given serious thought to the fact that both are unlikely to have occurred. This is not very important from the point of view of Christian's doctrine, except if the doctrin involves a godly origin for the written word of the bible, in which case we have a bit of a paradox. That's basically the point that Ehrman is trying to make here, I think. Probably more important in the big picture, there are several attitudes of Christ at the moment of his crucifixion that I had encountered at various points in time: either a blessed detachment or an intense sufferring culminating in a cry. Given the centrality of the Christ figure in our culture, that works of art may have presented either attitude had never given me much pause. After all, artists will do what artists do, namely interpret and re-interpret. But I had failed to appreciate that those two incompatible attitudes are already inside the New Testament itself, showing a certain level of theological confusion at the core. Would this be enough for a Christian to doubt? Probably not, but this is nevertheless fairly interesting. All this information is contained in the second chapter of the book. The rest is basically a historical overview attempting to show why and how such conflicting information may have been included in the New Testament. This is fairly convincing, I found, but again had fairly strong overlaps with the "lost christianities".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed and authoritative, 16 April 2014
By 
L. Rose (Salisbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is just what you need when the bible-thumpers come knocking at your door. My only criticism would be that the title is a bit misleading, as the book is about the New Testament not the whole Bible, as Ehrman is well known as a specialist on the former. For me the most revealing material was the explanation of why the errors and forgeries occurred. It's all totally logical and intelligible. What amazes me is that the evangelists that I have met have not the slightest clue about the most obviously untenable of the claims made on behalf of the Bible. Ehrman of course skewers all these effectively, but goes much deeper, conveying an understanding of the methods used by scholars to work out why authors were saying what they did. For example why John's gospel is so different from the others (clue - everybody Jesus spoke to had died by then).

Ehrman is at pains to point out that his transition from evangelist to agnostic was not connected to his biblical scholarship, but to scepticism that a loving god could allow so much suffering. I'm sceptical about that - I'd suggest that his eventual understanding that the Bible is not the word of any god led to a questioning attitude about suffering. But that takes nothing away from a tour de force in literature, history and religious criticism.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a historical-critical reading of the New Testament, not a devotional/faith-based one, 20 Mar 2014
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) (Paperback)
This is a very interesting popularization of current scholarship on the New Testament. Most importantly, Ehrman takes what he calls a historical-critical perspective, i.e. he approaches the Bible as a scholar analyzing a text written by men rather than a sacred document that emanated directly from God. This is exactly what I was seeking, i.e. a secular treatment of the Bible as a religious document - the most important ever in the West - rather than the unquestionable (and perfect) word of God.

He begins with a rather dry chapter comparing the versions of events and theological notions between different texts as well as within them. In this way, it leaves absolutely no doubt, in my opinion, that the Bible is not infallible or even necessarily coherent, but is a work of literature that should be used as such. Ehrman goes on to prove that there are fabrications, authors faking their identities, and not least, a huge array of "gospels" that did not make it into the canon but which may well good sources on early Christianity. That means it was men who chose what was in the canon, i.e. the Bible is a human document and Christianity is a human religion.

Interestingly, Ehrman states that he has become an agnostic, but not because of what he concludes about the origins of the Bible. (It was the meaningless suffering of good people that did that.) He is steadfastly consistent in stating that, even as a human religion, everyone - even an atheist like me - can find much of value in the Bible. Again, I completely agree with this perspective, indeed I am fascinated by the figure of Jesus and the preachings attributed to him. I just don't believe they emanate from a God.

Once that is established, in about 140 pages that are a bit of a slog, the book gets extremely interesting as Ehrman seeks to explain the fundamentals of the Christian faith, including the nature of Jesus himself. Early Christianity, for example, had a number of different possibilities for the way Christianity might develop. There were 1) Ebionites, who argued that those who became Christian essentially had to become Jewish; 2) Marcionites, who "spurned all that was Jewish" and believed that the Old Testament proved the inferiority of the Jewish God, Yahweh, who was wrathful and vengeful rather than forgiving; 3) Gnostics, who believed that secret rites as revealed by Jesus would ensure salvation within a bizarre cosmology that argued that were many, perhaps hundreds, of Gods, including the deformed and flawed one that created horrible conditions on an earth that must be left behind through transcendence; 4) the proto-orthodox, who eventually won out, with a divinity of Christ that was "separate yet similar" to God.

Along the way, the reader witnesses how Christianity transformed itself from a Jewish sect into an anti-Jewish religion, how the notion of Christ's divinity was established (at a surprisingly late time), how heaven and hell were grafted on when the world did not come as prophesied. Most interestingly, Ehrman argues that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet that advocated a strict version of Jewish law and was viewed as human by himself and his followers, not even the son of God. He lost credence with the Jews, according to this logic, because his gruesome death proved that the reign of paradise on earth would be ushered in by him. It is a valuable portrait, leavened with Ehrman's reminders of how little we can know because the sources were written, then transmitted and added to, decades or centuries after the death of Christ, i.e. unreliable as historical sources.

As a non-believer, I was comfortable with this perspective. I can see how believers would feel defensive about it, but Ehrman is at pains to introduce fundamentalists to the value - and respect - of his methods. I warmly recommend this book to atheists, agnostics, and believers.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 23 Feb 2014
By 
Mr. A. P. Lloyd "efctony" (London) - See all my reviews
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Ehrman gives us a popularisation of just what historical methods can tell us about the life of Jesus.

My first surprise was that there was anything in history that could be formalised enough to be called a "method". My second was just how much one could figure out using it. Especially with the Bible, texts that disagree with each other, show signs of obvious manipulation (and, even, forgery) that have little corroboration from non-partisan sources.

But Ehrman takes us through all sorts of stuff, Jesus' teachings, the motives of the Gospel writers, the early history of Christianity. All the while he tells us just how firm a conclusion can be drawn. It seems that Jesus' home town being Nazareth, His baptism and His death are secure. Ehrman is reasonably confident that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher whilst Ehrman's hunch about Judas is just that: a hunch (Ehrman's word). All the while Ehrman tells us *why*, the evidence (or lack of it) and reasoning behind the judgements. It's a fascinating insight into the discipline.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read, 30 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) (Paperback)
I very much enjoyed reading this book. It was hard for me to put it down.Fully recomend it to any body interested in the bible.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Concise and to the point, 10 Nov 2013
This review is from: Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) (Paperback)
This is an excellent book and provides a very academic deconstruction of the bible. Unlike some other books where authors get carried away listing endless examples of inaccuracies, contradictions, malevolence and lies, Bart limits himself to no more than 5 examples on each topic, making it much more readable.
The awful paradox is that despite the bible being the most researched and studied book in history, it still remains the book that most people own yet have never read properly.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, 2 July 2013
By 
Victor Hvingelby "quanafay" (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Jesus Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) (Paperback)
This book is a very interesting account of some the differences in the Gospels. And not just to point out that they exist, no, Ehrman describes, in detail, why this discrepancies exist. It only gets three stars because he has a tendency to repeat himself and reiterate the same questions more than necessary though.
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