I almost didn't buy this book - numerous of the reviews on Amazon.com suggested it was a poorly crafted work, and a quite inadequate response to Ehrman's "How Jesus Became God"
But I Did buy it - albeit hesitantly - because, as a committed Christian, I was somewhat disturbed by some of Ehrman's proposals, and I wanted a considered response from the `conservative' camp. This was as good as I was going to get (by the way, I'm STILL waiting for an adequate response to various other Ehrman titles. Eg "Jesus Interrupted", "Misquoting Jesus", "God's Problem" - do any such strong responses exist, and if not, I wonder, why not?)
Back to the current book. Definitely these author's aren't as good writers as Ehrman - it doesn't read so smoothly, at times it's quite tedious, whereas I simply couldn't put Bart's book down - he's So good at keeping your interest throughout and putting forth his arguments in a compelling manner. This book is tougher going.
But - and this surprised me given the bad press - it's definitely a worthwhile read. Certainly, as Ehrman himself contends, these authors seek to deconstruct (knock a hole through a good many of Ehrman's arguments) rather than construct (set out a whole new theory). Maybe they wrote their book to hastily, in attempt to get it published same day as Bart's book. If so, that was a mistake.
Nevertheless, as a destruct, they make a pretty good job on the whole, I reckon. There's a whole host of Ehrman's arguments - including his very core points - that these five guys run roughshod over, in so doing making refreence to a great number of contemporary biblical scholars (thus the footnote section is quite impressive and well worth referring to).
One of their strongest points - challenging Ehrman's weakest - is of course in regard to Ehrman basing an entire theory upon a truly contentious reading of ONE THIRD of a single verse in ONE of Paul's letters (Galatians !:14), while almost utterly ignoring the entirety of the rest of Paul's Epistles. This indeed I found to be a standout weakness in Ehrman's book (one of many according to these authors), and an embarrassing one - definitely the weakest argument I've found in any of Ehrman's books that I've read (admittedly only four).
Moving on, thankfully, it's only really Michael Bird who keeps making personal, snide remarks against Ehrman. He clearly seems threatened by his arguments. That's a pity, as such remarks (which he calls `humour' but which aren't remotely funny) serve to lower the tone of the work overall.
What disappoints me a lot is the fact that Bart, who has read "How God Became Jesus" has stated (on his own website) that he feels it unnecessary to make any detailed `response' to this book, because, other than Craig Evan's chapter, he feels that none of the chapters are strong enough to merit a response. Sounds slightly arrogant to me - there's absolutely loads in this work that require a considered response from Ehrman. Could it be that he doesn't have a reasoned response to make to some of these five guy's essays? I don't know.
To sum up, this book may not go down in history as a classic theological treatise, but as a deconstruct of Some of Ehrman's arguments, it works well. Whether it's strong enough to dismiss Ehrman's work out of hand is another matter. The debate goes on - or at least it needs to.