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on 2 July 2013
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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on 7 July 2016
This book is a fantastic read from start to finish. It is brilliantly written and its content is fascinating. Bart Ehrman is gaining in fame (and notoriety) but his books are so well written it is much deserved. This is a book that those in Christian ministry must read and engage with.

I would love to give it 5 stars but I must stop at 3, purely for the evident reason that this book screams not to be read in isolation. One simply must then go and read a counter argument by a brilliant scholar (such as Cambridge's Richard Bauckham perhaps?) to hear the opposite point of view and then make a weighed judgement
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on 22 April 2016
An in depth critical analysis of the New Testament, who wrote it, and why. Despite the in depth nature of the subject matter, biblical scholar Bart D. Ehrman's book is very readable, and demonstrates quite clearly why the Bible, and in particular the New Testament is NOT the inerrant word of God - but a collection of competing books by contradictory authors, shaped, rewritten and edited by fallible humans promoting their own agenda's as they wrestled for control of the early Christian church and it's teachings. None of the gospel writers, all of which were working from oral tradition tens of years after the events they describe, and to which it is at least unlikely (and in some cases impossible) they were first hand witnesses, anticipated their work would be collected into one book, where they could be read side by side to demonstrate their glaring inconsistencies, some of which go to the very heart of Christianity. Many might be surprised to learn that the authors are not necessarily those to who they are ascribed, and unlikely any were the initial disciples of Jesus. Even Paul - formerly Saul of Tarsus - did not meet Christ during his lifetime, and became a convert decades after his death - and suddenly was gifted with a great knowledge and understanding of his teachings despite never having conversed with him. And his views when critically analysed seem to differ with the accounts of the gospels themselves.

Where was Jesus born? Was his mother a virgin? Was he a man or a god? What were his attitudes towards the Old Testament? Towards women? Towards the Jews? What day was he crucified on? Did he die in the morning or in the afternoon? What were the events of his resurrection and exactly who witnessed them?

This book advocates that readers should see the four canonical gospels as four independent records and read them within their own particular context to understand why the authors included or excluded various aspects of the life and teachings of Jesus. At least one of the gospels was written long after the death of Jesus and it was patently obvious that the apocalyptic prophesies and imminent arrival of God's kingdom on earth had not been fulfilled - therefore the message is different from the other gospels. Mark is written by a Roman Christian, and so takes a different view from Matthew who was a Jew with regards to whether one needed to follow the rules of Moses as set out in the Old Testament.

This should prove a sober and literate scholarly analysis of the bible and it's claims to be some kind of divine scripture inspired by the inerrant word of God. If this is the inspired work of some divine being then he made a complete hash of it, since it has inconsistencies and holes you could drive a bus through, and he should fire his editor at once.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 11 June 2014
Well, I've read everything Bart has turned out and there's no denying his credentials. One of my favourite writers on matters Old Testament, he really comes into his own when he takes the New one for a very very careful reading.

I don't know if this is a (spoiler) ?

As he takes great pains to point out, the basics that this book is built on are not radical inventions of his own but are the standard course work of any theological college, something that shook him up quite badly when his fresh-faced young fundamental self was handed the tools for his quest of understanding scripture better. He wanted something to deepen his faith and instead the knowledge destroyed it utterly.
His pain is tangible. His suffering, his loss was real - yet this catharsis made him not only the brilliant analyst he is today but made him need to discuss some pretty hairy issues, right down to the Good and Evil question.

Gaining this knowledge was Ehrman's baptism of fire. In many ways he is a more valuable preacher working through his books that he ever could be in front of a congregation.
His surprise was learning that all priests and preachers learn what he had learned but still go on into the ministry anyway, knowing that the book they cherish and look to for authority is largely a sham. Of course this opens up all sorts of questions and other considerations may well override the little glitch of "It's all b••••ks" after all, the Roman church doesn't work the Bible too hard for guidance but finds it useful for illustrative purposes.

Charismatics may be more perturbed than the Catholics to find their book is a house built on sand but they are still happy to keep the word - or at least selected, congregation-friendly sections of The Word - flowing. it's not all as simple as "Is the Bible true or False?" It's a much more dynamic relationship than that, and to many, it works perfectly well even though - or maybe because - the evidence does not support veracity or provenance.

Most of the material in here has been covered in his other works but here he has a real crisis of belief and it gets a bit intense and he frets a bit.

Essential reading
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on 24 April 2012
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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on 21 June 2015
The author has an incredibly deep understanding of the origins and meanings of the bible. He clearly explains how the myth was created and why it had such contradictory views within it. All this is based on historical research. But when trying to decide if Jesus really existed he abandons research and then relies on unproven sources such as the mysterious "Q". Come on Mr Ehrman. You KNOW Jesus was a mythical figure. Take the final step and admit it.
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on 18 May 2014
Did Jesus say all the words we read in the NT? It is doubtful that he did. When considered that the Gospels are written many years after the events supposed to have taken place during Jesus`s time on earth, and they must have been complied from passed down hearsay, and embellished as passed down hearsay always is, then we have to doubt in an honest way and consider that we don`t have the true record of what went on and what was said at the time.
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on 23 February 2014
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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on 19 December 2010
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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on 26 June 2016
Bart Ehrman writes in a very engaging and entertaining style, while explaining mountains of otherwise dry biblical scholarship. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the historical basis of christianity and the early church.
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