Without the presence of Christianity, our world would be considerably different. Whether we view it in religious, social, or political terms, Christianity has deeply and integrally influenced the Western worldview and way of life. Yet, throughout Christian history, compelling controversies have existed surrounding the faith's first three centuries, when it grew from a persecuted sect into a powerful religion. These controversies bring into question many commonly accepted beliefs about Christianity.
In this course, an award-winning professor and New York Times best-selling author offers a penetrating investigation of the 24 most pivotal controversies, shedding light on fallacies that obscure an accurate view of the religion and how it evolved into what it is today. In each lecture, you'll delve into a key issue in Christianity's early development:
Did the Jews Kill Jesus?
Was Jesus Raised from the Dead?
Did the Disciples Write the Gospels?
Did Early Christians Accept the Trinity?
Is the Book of Revelation about Our Future?
Who Chose the Books of the New Testament?
You'll delve into the conception of the meshiach (messiah) in Jewish tradition, and the basis for the core Christian claim that a suffering messiah was predicted in the Jewish scriptures. In grasping Paul's role in the early faith, you contemplate the key differences between the teachings of Jesus himself and the Christian view of his death and resurrection. And you trace the ambiguous role in early Christianity of the Jewish scriptures, and how these books came to be accepted as the Christian Old Testament. Explore these and other intriguing questions in this unique inquiry into the core of Christian tradition.
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A Lackluster Survey
Ehrman begins by presenting clear contradictions in the Bible and assessing them in terms of what possible truths might lay behind such inconsistencies. His lecture unfortunately degrades from this sort of analysis of the fractures within biblical canon into a survey and consideration of post-biblical Christian legends and what amounts to fan-fiction. He is overtly selective about what material he presents and analyzes in his treatment of each topic so as to present only the material that supports his presupposed conclusions. His lecture comes across as partisan and dishonest--more fitting to be read from a pulpit rather than a classroom.
The course had the potential to be something interesting and worthwhile if it had avoided the assumptions and biases of faith in favor of evidence-based historical analysis focused around fact rather than opinion.
Attempts were made to acknowledge when opinions were being presented early in the series, but as the series progressed opinions were presented with increased frequency, and their acknowledgement as such became weaker and weaker. The overall tone was one of a sermon, often repeating ideas being presented as key points multiple times almost as if to convince the listener by means of insistence rather than reason.
- Matthew D. Miller "eclectic observer"
Essential early Christian history