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Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Написано Bart D. Ehrman

Озвучено Walter Dixon


Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth

Написано Bart D. Ehrman

Озвучено Walter Dixon

оценки:
3.5/5 (99 оценки)
Длина:
11 часов
Издатель:
Издано:
10 июл. 2012 г.
ISBN:
9780062220400
Формат:

Описание

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.

Издатель:
Издано:
10 июл. 2012 г.
ISBN:
9780062220400
Формат:

Об авторе

Bart D. Ehrman is one of the most renowned and controversial Bible scholars in the world today. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestsellers How Jesus Became God; Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem; Jesus, Interrupted; and Forged. He has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, History, and top NPR programs, as well as been featured in TIME, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and other publications. He lives in Durham, North Carolina. Visit the author online at www.bartdehrman.com.


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  • (3/5)
    A lot of good information, but not a lot of new information. Easy to read.
  • (5/5)
    Although my theological convictions are quite different than his, Bart Ehrman makes an excellent concise case for the existence of Jesus. I highly recommend it!
  • (5/5)
    A very informative book. Don't matter if you are a cristian or not you need to read this book or listen if you have the Audible book.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting question, eh? Now don't get your pants in a bunch. While I don't espouse to any particular religion I do believe that a man named Jesus walked the earth. This book looks to categorically prove that. Most of the religions built around Jesus accept that on faith and in fact according to Professor Ehrman the idea that Jesus did NOT exist didn't even enter into the conversation until the 1800s. Prior to that everyone thought he was a real person.Who knew?The book starts with a rather well, boring chapter where Professoer Ehrman goes into an explanation of the Mythists who believe Jesus was a mythical figure created rather as a sun god archetype to be the center of Christianity rather than a living, breathing human being. As he lists off the various authors and their beliefs and his denouncing thereof it's rather like reading Leviticus. If you have ever read Leviticus you will completely understand. If you haven't - don't. It's rather boring. It's very boring.The book picks up a bit after that as Professor Ehrman starts to prove his hypothesis. Now I am no Bible scholar; I just like to read so I can't remark on the truth behind anything written in the book. Professor Ehrman is a Bible scholar but a lot of what he puts forth is his opinion and he does indicate that very clearly. I found the book interesting and the information presented will lead me to further reading for sure. (I have eclectic reading tastes if you haven't figured that out by now.) I don't know if I completely buy everything Professor Ehrman puts forth as some of the references are very thin but he does his best to make his points.This is definitely not a book for everyone. True believers don't need proof of Jesus' existence and deniers aren't going to believe any proof put forward. I like to explore religion - all religions and therefore the book intrigued me and I was not disappointed on that front.
  • (3/5)
    Bart has been a major source of reliable information as I have painfully extracted myself from Christianity, the ill effects of which will never be expunged from my life. BUT, this book is much below his usual capabilities. I do NOT disagree with him at all. Might skip this one. No new info is correct. Excuciatingly vrepetitive from one chapterbto another, as well as within chapters themselves. What was publisher NOT thinking?
  • (4/5)
    I have never encountered anyone who can better make an analysis of the bible into a page turner than Bart Ehrman, Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. In this little gem, Ehrman takes on a group of atheists and agnostics (whom he calls “mythicists”) who deny that Jesus ever walked the face of the earth. As those who have read any of his other books knows, Ehrman himself is not religious or even a Christian, but he is an honest historian. As such, he cannot ignore what he considers to be manifest historical evidence that there was once a Jewish man named Jesus who lived in the first century in Roman governed Palestine. In fact, it was not until recently (19th century) that anyone seemed seriously to doubt that such a man had existed. However, what he was like and what he taught are other matters entirely. Ehrman describes Jesus as a Jewish “apocalypticist,” someone who believed that the end of the world was imminent. In fact, there are many passages in the New Testament stating Jesus believed and taught that the end of the world would come during the life time of his followers. Ehrman speculates that the Jesus deniers are motivated by an animus directed at current right wing Christians who:“… are working hard to promote ignorance over knowledge, for example, in the insistence that evolution is merely a theory and that creationism should be taught in the schools….and imposing certain sets of religious beliefs on our society…electing only those political figures who support certain religious agendas, no matter how hateful they may be toward other (poor, or non-American) human beings and how ignorant they may be about the world at large.” Nonetheless, he argues that their well meaning agenda would be better served by promoting an understanding of the historical Jesus, someone who was a man of the first century who said nothing about modern issues such as abortion or gun rights. Ehrman concludes, “Jesus did exist, whether we like it or not.” Evaluation: Ehrman rarely fails to make religious history and theory accessible and interesting.(JAB)
  • (4/5)
    I'm split on this one. Although I'm not convinced that a Palestinian first century rabbi named Jesus did exist and riled up the religious establishment; later to be crucified, the author has a valid point.

    If Jesus lived, he most certainly wasn't God and didn't do all the miraculous things credited to him in the gospels. Also, such a person would not have been able to transcend time and culture. Or more specifically, a historical Jesus would have borne little resemblance to the Americanized version that we see many Christians "worship" today.

    At times, I felt Ehrman made some valid points against mythicism and at others, he seemed to miss some obvious facts (or ignore them) and he could be seen throwing out logical fallacies here and there. All in all, I appreciated the attempt but the author still hasn't made a compelling positive case that a historical Jesus existed.
  • (4/5)
    A friend who knows that I am an atheist, as well as interested in historical controversies, sent me a citation for the book Nailed : Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed by David Fitzgerald. It's not a scholarly book, and I imagine that Ehrman would give it short shrift, but I did decide in the interest of fairness to read a book asserting that Jesus did live, and Bart Ehrman seemed like a good choice. I've been an atheist for more than 35 years believing that Jesus existed, so I don't have a lot riding on this issue.Ehrman writes well, and in this book he has made the effort to be particularly clear and lucid. The book seems to ramble slightly, but is generally well organized. In addition to arguing that Jesus existed, Ehrman presents his view of what Jesus was like. It becomes clear reviewing the two books that one of the first things one has to decide in arguing this issue is whether to assume that the Christian scriptures should be taken literally or not. Fitzgerald assumes that they should, while Ehrman does not. This makes a difference because if they are literally true, than it is much harder to argue that Jesus would have escaped the notice of historians and other scholars at the time: if darkness had covered the earth for three hours and there had been two earthquakes associated with Jesus' death, those natural phenomena at least would probably have been noted. Ehrman doesn't think they occurred, so he argues that 99.99% of people in Palestine/Judea (wherever) went unnoticed, so why would Jesus be noticed? This argument is a little weak, as Jesus was not a peasant who never left his home village, and he got enough notice to apparently set the Sanhedrin's back up and get himself executed. The question is therefore how many similar people to that went unnoticed. Ehrman also argues that there is a consensus among Biblical scholars. This is not a clinching argument for me for several reasons. One is that I wonder how many of those scholars have a vested interest in Jesus having lived, either because they are churchmen, or because they don't like the idea of studying an imaginary person. Differing from the general consensus may get someone to be considered a genius, but it also may result in being considered a crank. I have no information on this point, it's just a question. In one of the historical controversies that I read about, almost all the progress in the last century has been made under pressure from amateurs. They have forced the academics to back down from time-honored but questionable conclusions. In particular, they have forced them to back away from the illogical way that a certain document is viewed; I have read of the same problem in other fields. The document has parts that can be checked against other sources, and parts that are unique. It can be shown that some of the material that can be checked is false, but the scholars have traditionally insisted that anything that cannot checked must be true. They have garnered considerable ridicule from the lay writers for this.Ehrman argues that the various Christian scriptures, canonical or not, agree that Jesus lived and was crucified that constitutes strong evidence that these two things are true. This is a point that Fitzgerald addresses inadequately. The weakness of Ehrman's argument, which he does not address, is that they also agree that Jesus rose from the dead, something which a self-described agnostic leaning toward atheism is not likely to believe. If the miracles are imaginary, why can't the more mundane facts also be imaginary, unless, as with the crucifixion, it is something that his Jewish followers would find particularly embarrassing.Ehrman argues that Jesus' mission was to warn of an imminent apocalypse, not to die as a sacrifice or set up a long term religion.In sum, a good book for the Jesus lived side of this argument, made by someone who is not religious. There are two books directly critiquing Ehrman: Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, which is a collection of essays; and There was No Jesus, There is No God by Raphael Lataster, which also addresses other writers.
  • (1/5)
    Very disappointing. I have enjoyed everything else Ehrman has written, but he really dropped the ball on this one.
  • (4/5)
    A friend who knows that I am an atheist, as well as interested in historical controversies, sent me a citation for the book Nailed : Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed by David Fitzgerald. It's not a scholarly book, and I imagine that Ehrman would give it short shrift, but I did decide in the interest of fairness to read a book asserting that Jesus did live, and Bart Ehrman seemed like a good choice. I've been an atheist for more than 35 years believing that Jesus existed, so I don't have a lot riding on this issue.Ehrman writes well, and in this book he has made the effort to be particularly clear and lucid. The book seems to ramble slightly, but is generally well organized. In addition to arguing that Jesus existed, Ehrman presents his view of what Jesus was like. It becomes clear reviewing the two books that one of the first things one has to decide in arguing this issue is whether to assume that the Christian scriptures should be taken literally or not. Fitzgerald assumes that they should, while Ehrman does not. This makes a difference because if they are literally true, than it is much harder to argue that Jesus would have escaped the notice of historians and other scholars at the time: if darkness had covered the earth for three hours and there had been two earthquakes associated with Jesus' death, those natural phenomena at least would probably have been noted. Ehrman doesn't think they occurred, so he argues that 99.99% of people in Palestine/Judea (wherever) went unnoticed, so why would Jesus be noticed? This argument is a little weak, as Jesus was not a peasant who never left his home village, and he got enough notice to apparently set the Sanhedrin's back up and get himself executed. The question is therefore how many similar people to that went unnoticed. Ehrman also argues that there is a consensus among Biblical scholars. This is not a clinching argument for me for several reasons. One is that I wonder how many of those scholars have a vested interest in Jesus having lived, either because they are churchmen, or because they don't like the idea of studying an imaginary person. Differing from the general consensus may get someone to be considered a genius, but it also may result in being considered a crank. I have no information on this point, it's just a question. In one of the historical controversies that I read about, almost all the progress in the last century has been made under pressure from amateurs. They have forced the academics to back down from time-honored but questionable conclusions. In particular, they have forced them to back away from the illogical way that a certain document is viewed; I have read of the same problem in other fields. The document has parts that can be checked against other sources, and parts that are unique. It can be shown that some of the material that can be checked is false, but the scholars have traditionally insisted that anything that cannot checked must be true. They have garnered considerable ridicule from the lay writers for this.Ehrman argues that the various Christian scriptures, canonical or not, agree that Jesus lived and was crucified that constitutes strong evidence that these two things are true. This is a point that Fitzgerald addresses inadequately. The weakness of Ehrman's argument, which he does not address, is that they also agree that Jesus rose from the dead, something which a self-described agnostic leaning toward atheism is not likely to believe. If the miracles are imaginary, why can't the more mundane facts also be imaginary, unless, as with the crucifixion, it is something that his Jewish followers would find particularly embarrassing.Ehrman argues that Jesus' mission was to warn of an imminent apocalypse, not to die as a sacrifice or set up a long term religion.In sum, a good book for the Jesus lived side of this argument, made by someone who is not religious. There are two books directly critiquing Ehrman: Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, which is a collection of essays; and There was No Jesus, There is No God by Raphael Lataster, which also addresses other writers.
  • (4/5)
    Although I felt like the author rambled a bit at times, overall I felt this was a good rebuttal to the Jesus-was-nothing-more-than-a-myth argument that can be found all over the internet right now. If you've read books that claim Jesus did not exist, that he was nothing more than a created persona, this book explains why that view is not usually held by serious scholars on the subject.
  • (5/5)
    Neither a preacher, nor a scholar, nor a Christian, I; merely a party with an interest in history and religion. That caveat now stated, I must say, too, that I agree with the conclusion Bart Ehrman reaches in his latest book, Did Jesus Exist?: Yes. He just wasn't who you think.Ehrman wrote Did Jesus Exist? to counter the arguments of a “movement” (although it is not really as organized as the term implies) he terms “mythicists”: Amateur historians and a handful of genuine scholars who assert that Jesus did not exist, either as the Son of God as portrayed in the Gospels, or as the historical Jesus studies by scholars. This belief is growing rapidly in the West, Ehrman notes, and he is adamant that they are wrong. Did Jesus Exist? is a fascinating study in historiography. Ehrman divides the book into three sections. In the first unit, Ehrman examines the sources we have for Jesus' existence and explains their validity. Following that, Ehrman describes and counters mythicist claims. Finally, Ehrman states his “vision” of what the historical Jesus was probably like. It is impressive to observe the scope of Ehrman's knowledge, the methodology he employs and the force with which he makes his case.I won't go into details regarding Ehrman's methodology here; suffice it to say that the logic he uses is subtle and of a technical nature (that is, it is specific to the practice of history as an academic discipline), which ultimately, I think, means that his points may be lost on the majority of readers. If you have an open mind, you will enjoy this book. If prior to reading this book you are convinced that Jesus did or didn't exist, Ehrman's arguments won't sway you one way or the other. They will simply infuriate you.From my perspective, Ehrman made several points that go far in asserting the reality of the historical Jesus. I appreciated in particular his assertion that the Gospels (both canonical and non-) can be counted as distinct historical sources. That is, they should not be treated with any special consideration by historians of either persuasion: They are part of the Christian Bible, yes, but they are still sources nonetheless. And each Gospel is in some way informed by unique traditions, regardless of the ways in which some might be dependent upon others. Indeed, the differences between the Synoptic Gospels go a long way in assisting the historian in his study of Jesus. Mythicists and their sympathizers will not accept these claims.Two other points, theological, further support Ehrman's claims. (In my opinion; he makes many others, of course.) These are: 1. Ancient Jews anticipated an earthly (that is, real) messiah to deliver them from their enemies in the (real) world; and 2. Adherents of that messiah would not have portrayed him as having been crucified. These are unassailable points. Judaism has been, and remains, a religion focused on this world. The messiah figure anticipated by the apocalyptic elements within Judaism was one of flesh-and-blood; believers expected him to be a military hero or a priestly deliverer, or both, who would cast off the Roman yoke and unify the Jews under the Law. This is not an allegory or something that might happen in an “Other World.” It was (and for some Jews, in some ways, remains) something to await in this world.I agree with Ehrman, too, that believers would not have depicted their messiah as having been crucified had it not been based on a historical event. Mythicists claim that this trope was borrowed from neighboring pagan religions in which a god-man dies for the betterment of mankind and then is raised from the dead. (I am not claiming that Jesus rose.) Ehrman effectively disproves this assertion. His most important point is theological. It is commanded in Deuteronomy that, if someone is executed and their body hanged from a tree (as was the practice among the Israelites, long before the days of Jesus), the body should be taken down before nightfall, lest the dead “come under the curse of the Lord.” Additionally, as discussed by John Dominic Crossan in his works on the historical Jesus, there are the honor and shame traditions of ancient Mediterranean society: The public display of the executed, and especially the inability of his family to remove him (or her), tarnished the honor of the family. Imagine the horror and confusion Jesus' followers must have felt knowing that their supposed messiah had been nailed to a cross: It defies all of their expectations, their beliefs, their sense of decency. “How could this happen? Was Jesus' ministry all for naught? That can't be. Maybe we misunderstood the nature of the messiah...”I accept Ehrman's assertion that a historical Jesus existed. That is not to say that mythicists will not find fodder here. There are problems. Ehrman's previous book argued (again, effectively) that many of the books of the New Testament had been forged (i.e, not all of the Pauline letters were written by Paul, etc.). He maintains here that that is irrelevant to the reality of the historical Jesus. That is a fine point to make, and I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced by it. I'm not sure Ehrman entirely is, either; he almost skirts the issue by referring to these books as “forgeries” only twice. Likewise, Ehrman is adamant that the Gospels can be used as historical sources. (I agree.) But perhaps he is too generous. He dismisses the miracles as irrelevant; historians do not trade in miracles. (I agree; mythicists might claim this renders them illegitimate sources.) For instance, Ehrman describes Jesus' trial by Pilate as a (very abbreviated) historical reality. That is, it may have happened, in a very perfunctory way, lasting only moments, and certainly not as depicted by the Gospels. Crossan, in Who Killed Jesus? effectively demonstrates that any trial at all is historically unlikely; Jesus was, probably, rounded up and executed without ceremony. If that whole episode can be invented—well, then there are greater implications.Finally, Ehrman notes that the Jews who were Jesus' earliest followers were unlikely to incorporate into their understanding of him beliefs from neighboring pagan societies. I agree. But Ehrman later notes that there were traditions stating that Jesus may have had a twin brother and that his harkens back to pagan myth (twin gods). The Gospels, canonized and non-, were written in Greek; their authors must have been familiar with Hellenistic culture. Here, then, is evidence of paganism seeping into Christian belief. If at this early stage paganism had begun to influence embryonic Christianity, might it not have had an earlier effect? All of this is to say that this book is bursting with information. Thinking readers will enjoy it; readers who are militant in their positions, either mythicist or believer, may wish to avoid it. Some readers may be put off by Ehrman's incessant appeals to authority: In every chapter, and on nearly every page, Ehrman states that almost every reputable scholar of whom he is aware agrees on this point or that. Likewise, Ehrman has a habit of raising an argument and then putting it off: “For now it is enough to say...” He also consistently refers readers to other books, particularly his own, but this is understandable given the scope of his argument. It is not a perfect book; none are. But it is a great one.
  • (4/5)
    Not too long ago, I was asked in a religious forum whether I believe Jesus really existed. I said yes, I'm 99% sure. I meant precisely that: I'm a numbers guy, and I estimate the odds that Jesus never existed to be somewhere around one chance in a hundred. After presenting a parallel (a Bible historian who is forced to make sense of his research in light of a nonexistent Jesus would be a bit like a research biologist who shows up to work one day and is told that evolution is a lie) I gave an example of the type of argument that I find most convincing. If Jesus were a made-up figure, wouldn't the made-up stories be a bit more self-serving? Instead, for example, the Gospels tell about Jesus submitting to baptism for his sins by a competitor, a man we know from historical reports DID exist: John the Baptist. How did this whole embarrassing episode get written into the story, if it weren't literally true?The truth is, I didn't know what to say in the forum. I would have to write a book to detail all the reasons Bible scholars believe Jesus existed.Thankfully, the book has been written, and by precisely the right person: Bart Ehrman, the controversial Bible-belt professor who has no qualms about speaking his mind regarding the myths which DO exist in the Bible.It's not that Ehrman has no vested interest in the topic. He does. He's been teaching about the Historical Jesus for a couple decades, and he'd have to eat some serious crow if it turns out no such person existed. It's that Ehrman doesn't find it necessary to play by the rules of an apologist, defending conservative Christianity. He can play dirty. For example, in arguing that the Jesus story is more than a myth similar to other legends of a dying and rising god, Ehrman is free to point out the obvious: The guys who first wrote about Jesus never in their wildest dreams thought Jesus was God. That theology came later.I do feel Ehrman overstates his case a bit. Well, he under appreciates the opposing case, I should say, and cops a bit of an attitude as he does. When the mythicists point out that something smells fishy with all the midrash in the New Testament, I found Ehrman's that-don't-prove-nuthin stance a little lame. But when he gets around to presenting the arguments for Jesus' existence, the book is superb. Four stars for an important counter-balance in a debate that has become more heated than I would have thought. And I'm still right where I was before: 99% sure.
  • (3/5)
    Interesting question, eh? Now don't get your pants in a bunch. While I don't espouse to any particular religion I do believe that a man named Jesus walked the earth. This book looks to categorically prove that. Most of the religions built around Jesus accept that on faith and in fact according to Professor Ehrman the idea that Jesus did NOT exist didn't even enter into the conversation until the 1800s. Prior to that everyone thought he was a real person.Who knew?The book starts with a rather well, boring chapter where Professoer Ehrman goes into an explanation of the Mythists who believe Jesus was a mythical figure created rather as a sun god archetype to be the center of Christianity rather than a living, breathing human being. As he lists off the various authors and their beliefs and his denouncing thereof it's rather like reading Leviticus. If you have ever read Leviticus you will completely understand. If you haven't - don't. It's rather boring. It's very boring.The book picks up a bit after that as Professor Ehrman starts to prove his hypothesis. Now I am no Bible scholar; I just like to read so I can't remark on the truth behind anything written in the book. Professor Ehrman is a Bible scholar but a lot of what he puts forth is his opinion and he does indicate that very clearly. I found the book interesting and the information presented will lead me to further reading for sure. (I have eclectic reading tastes if you haven't figured that out by now.) I don't know if I completely buy everything Professor Ehrman puts forth as some of the references are very thin but he does his best to make his points.This is definitely not a book for everyone. True believers don't need proof of Jesus' existence and deniers aren't going to believe any proof put forward. I like to explore religion - all religions and therefore the book intrigued me and I was not disappointed on that front.