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Customer Review

on 22 August 1999
I have read many books about the historical Jesus. Ehrman's Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium is by far the best. Although a popular account, Ehrman presents evidence and evaluates it logically. His main thesis is that Jesus believed that God would intervene, destroy all evil, and establish a Kingdom of God on earth (rather than in heaven), and that this would occur during his lifetime. Ehrman concludes that many of Jesus' sayings and deeds are best explained by Jesus' assumption that the present world would soon end. People must repent and prepare for the imminent judgment. One consequence of this belief is that Jesus was not a proponent of family values. Ehrman stresses that apocalypticism was an ideology that tried to make sense of the suffering of the Jewish people, giving them hope for the near future.
To me, Ehrman's arguments are far more persuasive than those of members of the Jesus Seminar who believe that Jesus was not an apocalypticist. Ehrman does not push unorthodox views, but presents consensus views of Bible scholars to the general public. Ehrman emphasizes Jesus' Jewish environment during the first century. He explains that Jesus was not unique except in his supposed resurrection. Christianity is based not on the actual resurrection of Jesus, but on belief in his resurrection. Written sources claim that healings and exorcisms were accomplished by other Jews in ancient times, and by Hebrew prophets. Ehrman also points out the diversity of Christian views during the first and second centuries. As any scholar taking a true historical approach must, he makes no evaluation of supernatural events. A special treat is Ehrman's sense of humor. A must read for those wishing to understand the historical Jesus, as opposed to a theological Jesus.
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