Large numbers of atheists, humanists, and conspiracy theorists are raising one of the most pressing questions in the history of religion: "Did Jesus exist at all?" Was he invented out of whole cloth for nefarious purposes by those seeking to control the masses? Or was Jesus such a shadowy figure - far removed from any credible historical evidence - that he bears no meaningful resemblance to the person described in the Bible?
In Did Jesus Exist? historian and Bible expert Bart Ehrman confronts these questions, vigorously defends the historicity of Jesus, and provides a compelling portrait of the man from Nazareth. The Jesus you discover here may not be the Jesus you had hoped to meet - but he did exist, whether we like it or not.
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Ehrman is not an agenda-bender.
I've 'read' all of Bart Ehrman's audiobooks plus his lecture series offered elsewhere and viewed his Youtube lectures because the subject matter is interesting and entertaining.
The premise of this book is the least interesting to me because I already believe that Jesus did exist in the flesh.So this is preaching to the choir.
I did not enjoy the book at first for that reason, but in the usual Bart way it still hooked me -though it took longer. Ehrman responds to many writers -point by point- who don't believe Jesus really existed. His own belief is that a man named Jesus did exist and this is pretty much the view of biblical scholars.
I read a criticism that this book dismisses writers who are outside of academia and that those inside academia would not be there if they did not believe Jesus existed. So they are all biased. This is true. True in the same way that academic biologists all believe in evolution and are biased against creationism.
After discussing and refuting many of the arguments that Jesus was just a fabrication, and many of the beliefs held in that era, then we get back onto familiar turf with discussions of contextual criticisms, sources and a final look at what Jesus may have been like and actually said. (The good stuff).
The contextual criticism is covered in many other Ehrman works of course, but I still got quite a bit from this because one does not absorb it all the first time if one is not taking notes and reviewing it.
The principle discussion was informative too. It discussed what we know about Jesus and informed me of the arguments others make about Jesus being a fabrication along with many of the curious beliefs of that period which I did not know. If you like to hear about the early Jesus movement, this is more Ehrman gold, though not completely new. That is fine by me. What I really like about the writer is his scholarship and his pursuit of the truth no matter where it leads. The book comes across as a logical, fully informed work that doesn't have a particular agenda. Ehrman is not an agenda-bender.That is worth so much in learning about Jesus and why I like his work so much.
- Jacobus "When I drive, I read... uhm listen. I like SciFi, Fantasy, some Detective and Espionage novels and Religion. Now and then I will also listen to something else."