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Publisher's Summary

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.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2013 The Great Courses (P)2013 The Teaching Company, LLC
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Kate on 09-11-16

A remarkable look at early Christianity.

This is the second set of lectures I have listened to by Professor Bart D. Ehrman. The lectures were excellent. My time was well spent in familiarizing myself with the various controversies such as was Jesus really born in Bethlehem (unlikely) or that contrary to what many modern readers think, the Book of Revelation is not unique and the subject was the Roman Empire.

This book is not for all people - some have no interest in ancient history and for others, their faith may make this too sensitive a topic. Ehrman states early on:

"In these lectures, we will approach controversies of early Christianity not from the perspective of faith but from the perspective of history. We will not deny or affirm Christian belief or the approach to the Bible by faith; instead, we will take the approach of the historian— one who tries to reconstruct what actually happened in the past without assuming any particular faith commitments.

You may or may not feel that the conclusions we reach about controversial issues will have any bearing on your faith. But the fact that so many issues have been in dispute in Christianity from the earliest days of the faith is interesting in itself. What makes Christianity so subject to controversy on so many points? Why have those issues persisted for so long, and why have they so often been divisive? As we look for ways to resolve the disputes that are the subject of this course, we’ll look for answers to those fundamental questions, as well

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Wurm on 12-20-13

Essential early Christian history

Ehrman is an erudite scholar of Biblical history, especially as it pertains to early Christian history. This course was so interesting and informative that when I finished it, I started it again. If you are interested in the topics in the above description, listen to this course.

Note: This is not a devotional course. It covers the topics from the perspective of a historian, not from a theologian.

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17 of 19 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By geoff nemec on 02-06-18

A respectful challenge to Christian beliefs

Loved this book. a great piece of work wonderfully presented. interesting and challenging. not for the faint hearted Christian though, as your core beliefs will be challenged in a way that keeps you engaged. But stick it out to the end. It's worth the journey.

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4 out of 5 stars
By Rogayah on 12-09-15

Horizontal thinking

It is good to hear how thinking about Christianity was shaped, why and what actually happened in the life of Christ as can be gleaned from the gospels and other written evidence.

It will be interesting to follow this theme with more investigation.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Mars on 10-10-15


What made the experience of listening to The Greatest Controversies of Early Christian History the most enjoyable?

Engrossing and eye-opening. Engaging narration.

What about Professor Bart D. Ehrman’s performance did you like?

Skillful narratation with a natural and engaging style.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?


Any additional comments?

Should be manadatory for anyone that claims to be a devout Christian!

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