How Jesus Became God

Course No. 6522
Professor Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D., M.Div.
The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
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Course No. 6522
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Course Overview

The early Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God completely changed the course of Western civilization. In fact, without the Christian declaration of Jesus as God, Western history as we know it would have never happened.

If Jesus had not been declared God, his followers would have remained a sect within Judaism, and the massive conversion of Gentiles, the Roman adoption of Christianity, and the subsequent unfolding of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and modernity would never have taken place. For that reason, the question of how Jesus became God is one of the most significant historical questions of Western civilization.

This world-shaping occurrence, viewed historically, was monumentally unlikely. Within Judaism, there could be no question that Jesus was not the Messiah, who was envisioned as a powerful warrior-king. Jesus’s own followers, in fact, did not conceive of him as divine during his lifetime. His crucifixion, ignominious and degrading, ended his life in a way reserved for the lowliest criminals.

And yet—within a short time after his death, this crucified “enemy of Rome” was named the Son of God and the savior of humanity, and within four centuries he was believed by millions to be coequal and coeternal with God the Father.

How could something this unforeseeable, this improbable, have occurred at all—much less with a momentum that would shape Western history? What exactly happened, such that Jesus came to be considered God?

To ask this question is to delve into a fascinating, multilayered historical puzzle—one that offers a richly illuminating look into the origins of the Western worldview and the theological underpinnings of our civilization. This fundamental historical question and its complex answer speak penetratingly to the spiritual impulses, concerns, and beliefs that have played a seminal role in our world, even as they reveal the foundation of history’s most global religious movement, and fresh insights into the Western world’s single most influential human being.

Tackling all of these matters and more, Great Courses favorite Professor Bart D. Ehrman returns with the unprecedented historical inquiry of How Jesus Became God. In 24 provocative lectures, Professor Ehrman takes you deeply into the process by which the divinity of Jesus was first conceived by his followers, demonstrating how this conception was refined over time to become the core of the Christian theology that has so significantly shaped our civilization.

A distinguished scholar of Christianity and New York Times best-selling author, Professor Ehrman develops the inquiry with meticulous research and in-depth analysis of texts. In these lectures, Ehrman reveals that the theological understanding of Jesus as God came about through a complex series of factors and events, each of which must be understood in order to grasp this most extraordinary and historically pivotal story.

Intersections: The Human and the Divine

In assembling the pieces of the course’s extraordinary narrative, you’ll explore the historical background of ancient understandings of the divine. Here you discover that Jesus’s ascension as an object of faith was fundamentally underlain by ancient beliefs in interpenetration between the human and divine worlds.

You’ll dig deeply into human/divine intersections in Greco-Roman religions, as well as in ancient Judaism, finding that

  • The ancient world was suffused with accounts of divine mortals—gods who took on human form as well as humans who were exalted to divine status.
  • Greco-Roman cultures considered certain actual historical persons to have been born of the sexual union of gods and mortals, and earthly pagan rulers were at times worshipped as gods.
  • In the Hebrew scriptures, God and the Holy Spirit both appear on earth in human form, and the human Enoch, among others, is elevated to become a divine being.

Divinity and the Historical Jesus

As another integral element of the story, you’ll investigate what the historical Jesus said or indicated about himself, digging into these questions:

  • What were the elements of Jesus’s teaching with regard to his own role in the world?
  • Did Jesus view himself as divine?

You’ll look into these matters rigorously, reading key passages from the four canonical Gospels to determine whether, historically, Jesus’s public message proclaimed him as divine. You’ll also evaluate whether Jesus’s earthly actions—including accounts of miracles he performed—would have qualified him as divine in the eyes of his contemporaries.

You’ll study the circumstances surrounding Jesus’s death and burial, exploring exactly how early Christians came to believe he was raised from the dead. By examining the “pre-literary” Christian creeds quoted in the New Testament, you’ll uncover the disciples’ original conception that, at his resurrection, Jesus was “made” a divine being by God.

The Son of God Eternal

With the conception of Jesus as divine now established, you’ll enter the minefield of opposing views that developed as early Christians sought to understand how Jesus could be the Son of God. In excerpts from the New Testament Gospels, you’ll identify conflicting notions of when Jesus became the divine Son, following how Christian thinkers began to push this event further and further back into history.

Within the developing faith, you’ll investigate the range of views of Jesus’s divinity that held sway during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. You’ll study the beliefs and implications of radically different schools of thought, such as

  • the “docetists”, who held that Jesus was fully divine and only seemed human;
  • the Gnostic view that the divine Christ was a god who temporarily “inhabited” the human Jesus; and
  • the “modalist” conception that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three modes of a single being.

The Trinity and the Divine Christ

In the culmination of the course, you’ll trace the development of the Trinity, the theological doctrine at the heart of Christian orthodoxy. Through close reading of biblical texts, you’ll observe how the conception of the Holy Spirit came into being, and you’ll learn how third-century theologians such as Hippolytus and Tertullian arrived at the singular paradox of the Trinity: that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each individually God—yet there is only one God.

The concluding lectures bring alive the fiercely contested Arian controversy, which pitted the view that Jesus was a subordinate deity created by God the Father against the contention that he was coeternal and fully equal with God. Flowing from this debate, you’ll study the historic events of the famous Council of Nicea, called in 325 CE by the Roman Emperor Constantine to resolve the matter of the divine nature of Christ. You’ll learn how the edicts of the Council formally established the view of Jesus that has defined the Christian faith to the present day.

In the enthralling inquiry of How Jesus Became God, Professor Ehrman lays bare the diverse elements that combined to produce both an astonishing true-life story and one of history’s most significant happenings. Join a renowned biblical scholar in grappling with this pivot point of Western civilization that has indelibly shaped our culture, our thought, and the world we know.

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24 lectures
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 1
    Jesus - The Man Who Became God
    First, consider the huge historical significance of the Christian belief in Jesus’s divinity, in terms of its effects on Western civilization as well as today’s world. Learn about different scholarly views of the historical Jesus, and trace the remarkable diversity of early Christian thought regarding Christian identity, scripture, and theological understandings of Jesus. x
  • 2
    Greco-Roman Gods Who Became Human
    In the ancient world, there were many accounts of “divine” mortals. Track this phenomenon in the Greco-Roman polytheistic religions, noting the overlap between the human and divine worlds. Explore three ancient models of divine men, in both mythology and Christian scripture, as gods take on human form and humans enter the heavenly realm. x
  • 3
    Humans as Gods in the Greco-Roman World
    Delve further into the interface between the human and the divine in pagan cultures. Examine narratives describing people born of the sexual union of gods with mortals, highlighting examples such as Alexander the Great. In the Roman and Egyptian worlds, look at cases of humans who were exalted to the status of gods. x
  • 4
    Gods Who Were Human in Ancient Judaism
    Here, discover accounts of divine humans and other godlike beings within ancient Judaism. In Genesis and Exodus, explore conceptions of divine beings that appear in human form. In other Jewish texts, study narratives of humans who become angelic beings, as well as stories of the offspring of angels and humans. x
  • 5
    Ancient Jews Who Were Gods
    In ancient Judaism, beings other than the one true God could be considered to be or even called God. Learn about the divine figure of the Son of Man, and the Jewish conception of a “second God”. Observe how divine attributes of God were personified, and how humans such as the kings of Israel were deified. x
  • 6
    The Life and Teachings of Jesus
    In approaching the historical Jesus, consider why the New Testament Gospels are the only useful early sources on his life, and study the criteria used by scholars for evaluating the Gospels as history. Then investigate Jesus’s apocalyptic worldview, which envisioned the imminent end of history and a coming kingdom of God. x
  • 7
    Did Jesus Think He Was God?
    This lecture explores what Jesus said about himself, as well as what he specifically preached. Grasp the nature and purpose of Jesus’s ethical teachings, and his view of himself as a prophet of the coming kingdom. Study the Jewish conception of the Messiah as a warrior-king who would overthrow the enemies of Israel. x
  • 8
    The Death of Jesus - Historical Certainties
    Regarding Jesus’s final days, review the events that we know about with relative certainty. Learn about his reasons for being in Jerusalem, and the political tensions surrounding the Passover celebration there. Consider what led to his arrest, the nature of the charges against him, and what we can infer about his trial. x
  • 9
    Jesus’s Death - What Historians Can’t Know
    Look now at events surrounding Jesus’s death that we cannot know about with certainty. Assess the plausibility of the Gospels’ accounts of his arrival in Jerusalem, the date of his crucifixion, and the matter of his burial. Grasp how Christian writers made changes in the accounts of his death to serve theological ends. x
  • 10
    The Resurrection - What Historians Can’t Know
    Jesus’s resurrection stands as the basis for the entire Christian faith. But what can we know historically about the resurrection? Here, dig deeply into the question of what historians can and cannot demonstrate about the past, and consider aspects of the stories of Jesus’s resurrection that are historically doubtful or unknowable. x
  • 11
    What History Reveals about the Resurrection
    What was it that caused Jesus’s followers to believe he had been raised from the dead? Investigate the disciples’ visions of Jesus, alive again after his death, as reflected in Paul and the Gospels. Learn also about the tradition of doubt in the resurrection, and the meaning to early Christians of being resurrected. x
  • 12
    The Disciples’ Visions of Jesus
    In exploring the first claims about Jesus’s resurrection, this lecture discusses the phenomenon of visionary experience as understood by modern researchers. Learn about the variety of religious and bereavement visions people experience, and the ways in which the disciples’ visions and beliefs about Jesus combined to impact their conception of him as divine. x
  • 13
    Jesus’s Exaltation - Earliest Christian Views
    What did the earliest Christians believe about Jesus’s divinity? Delve into Romans and Acts for what they may tell us about early Christian thought, identifying the “pre-literary” creeds they quote from. Observe how these creeds indicate a view that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God precisely upon his resurrection. x
  • 14
    The Backward Movement of Christology
    Over time, Christian thought pushed the origin of Jesus’s divinity further and further back in history. Trace this development by looking at views of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels. Focus on the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, noting their differing versions of when Jesus became the Son of God. x
  • 15
    Paul’s View - Christ’s Elevated Divinity
    Paul’s theology represents a transition between early conceptions of Christ as exalted by God upon his death and later views of his innate or eternal divinity. Trace Paul’s seminal role within the early church, and his view of Jesus as a divine being whose actions raised him to a higher level of divinity. x
  • 16
    John’s View - The Word Made Human
    The Gospel of John differs significantly from the other three canonical Gospels in its conception of Jesus. Investigate John’s contention that Jesus had always been the Son of God and the equal of God the Father. Contemplate John’s identification of Christ as the embodiment of the word of God, or “logos”. x
  • 17
    Was Christ Human? The Docetic View
    In the second and third centuries, Christian groups followed radically different beliefs and theologies. Learn about the “docetists”, who believed Jesus was not human, but only appeared to be so, highlighting Marcion, a docetist who conceived of two distinct gods—a God of the Jews and a God of Jesus. x
  • 18
    The Divided Christ of the Separationists
    Among early Christian groups, the Gnostics demonstrate yet another view of the divinity of Jesus. Explore the fundamental tenets of Gnosticism, with its notion of secret knowledge as the source of salvation. Discover the Gnostic “separationist” view of Christ, according to which the divine Christ inhabited, temporarily, the human Jesus. x
  • 19
    Christ’s Dual Nature - Proto-Orthodoxy
    By the fourth century, the theological understanding known as “orthodoxy” became predominant. Investigate the relationship between orthodoxy and “heresy”, or conflicting conceptions of the faith, and evidence that orthodoxy was not the original form of Christianity. Learn about early “proto-orthodox” writers, and their contention that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. x
  • 20
    The Birth of the Trinity
    The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are all individually God. Look into the origins of this mysterious claim, noting that the Trinity appears nowhere in the Bible. Learn about the conception of “modalism”, which proposed that the three are manifestations of one being, and modalism’s opponents. x
  • 21
    The Arian Controversy
    In the third century, sharp divisions existed between Christians, involving how to explain the relation of God the Father to Christ and the Holy Spirit. Examine the proto-orthodox thought of Novatian, and learn about the “Arian controversy” stemming from the highly divisive view of Christ as a subordinate deity created by God. x
  • 22
    The Conversion of Constantine
    The Christian conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine was a momentous turning point for the faith. Learn about the relationship of the Roman Empire to early Christianity, and the specific reasons why Christians were persecuted by Rome. Grasp Constantine’s motives for converting to Christianity and for becoming directly involved in theological controversies. x
  • 23
    The Council of Nicea
    Constantine called the famous Council of Nicea in 325 CE, to resolve the conflicting views of Christ’s divinity. Examine the theological issues at stake, pitting the Christological views of Arius against those of Alexander of Alexandria. Contemplate the political implications of the outcome, and the resulting orthodox creed, establishing Jesus fully as God. x
  • 24
    Once Jesus Became God
    Conclude by considering the historical ramifications of the Nicean affirmation that Jesus was God. Learn about the growing Christian faith’s effects on paganism and the advent of anti-Jewish thought and action. Observe how the theological debates continued, and review Jesus’s path to becoming the object of faith for billions today. x

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Your professor

Bart D. Ehrman

About Your Professor

Bart D. Ehrman, Ph.D., M.Div.
The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his undergraduate work at Wheaton College and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Ehrman has written or edited 27 books, including four best sellers on The New York Times list: Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; God’s...
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How Jesus Became God is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 268.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Appropriate title Presenter answered many questions I've had over the years about Jesus.
Date published: 2020-07-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thought provoking I read Dr. Ehrman's Book by the same title and thought how much I might enjoy sitting in on his class, If he even taught this as a class. Knowing about The Great Courses through other courses I have taken, I went to their list of courses and found that this was avaliable. I ordered it and was not disappointed.
Date published: 2020-06-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An excellent discussion of the subject I have read a few of professor Ehrman's books many years ago, and I learned a great deal from them. In this course, the professor enlightens us with his extensive knowledge about how Jesus became God in the Christian religion. It is a fascinating course in which you will learn all the details. I knew that I had to purchase this course as soon as I saw it.
Date published: 2020-06-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beginnings of early Christian ideas What were the beliefs of the early Christians who were alive during the time of Christ ? How did the Christian church spread and evolve ? This course may help answer the questions listed above. I found this course to be very interesting and informative. I believe that a person interested in the history of Early Christianity starting from the time of Christ will learn something from this course The subject is controversial. You will not agree with some or all of the professors interpretations however most people will learn from this course. The Professor was interesting and kept my attention.
Date published: 2020-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This video provided a great deal of information about the development of the New Testament. I found especially interesting the establishment of the early church. It included a lot of historical facts that are not found in the Bible. It focused on history and did not try to convert the viewer.
Date published: 2020-06-24
Date published: 2020-06-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very Informative! It’s great. My only complaint is the industry norm that makes the lecturers walk back and forth or keep turning to face an alternative camera. I’d rather have the instructor stand at a podium and stay put!!! I find the ‘traveling’ more distracting than it is helpful at keeping my attention.
Date published: 2020-06-24
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Very Strident Tone Prof. Ehrman seems to be engaged in a one-sided debate with a Christian apologist. This leads him to adopt a very strident tone in these lectures that put me off. Unfortunately Prof. Erman seems to be focused on debating a Christian apologist in this course rather than giving a balanced set of lectures. His style in this course is that of a very strident debater rather than an objective professor. I'm not religious, but I do value a balanced picture and logical perspective. I can recommend Prof. Erman's The Historical Jesus which is much more balanced and reasonable in tone, four stars. Also the Fall of the Pagans and the Origins of Medieval Christianity by Prof. Harl is outstanding, five stars. These two courses cover almost the same material with the exception of the resurrection and earliest acts of the apostles.
Date published: 2020-06-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Logical Level Set for Religious Belief Note: for those who are involved with the impact of Jesus of Nazareth on the modern world as well as history, this course is a thinking persons guide.
Date published: 2020-06-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Explanation of the Start of Christianity I liked this course for its matter of fact explanation of the start of Christianity. It was refreshing that Professor Ehrman didn't let faith or doctrine get in the way as he presented the history.
Date published: 2020-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Jesus became god A subject matter somewhat new for me yet curious to inspect. The usual high quality I've come to expect from Great Courses and it's knowledgeable instrstructors. Lots to learn! What better time.
Date published: 2020-06-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Well presented and conclusions probably accurate I have viewed several courses by Dr. Ehrman and have enjoyed all of them. This course has, no doubt, ruffled a lot of "religious feathers". I believe Dr Ehrman presented many valid premises and made accurate conclusions.
Date published: 2020-05-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from truly enlightening An exceptional course detailing the development of Christian theology from a historical perspective. Among the best courses I've taken in more than a decade of higher education.
Date published: 2020-05-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A true "Bible Study" Although I haven't completed "How Jesus Became God" I so far find it to address two questions that are in combination directed by creedal adherance in official Church produced Bible studies. (Studies that may be experienced as indoctrination.) My uneasy questions are: What was Jesus' original message? Was his original message different from today's many different church body messages?
Date published: 2020-04-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Superb! A remarkable example of the art of teaching. Prof. Ehrman synthesizes and distills historical research and theological belief in well-constructed presentations that build on each other. His language is clear and accessible even when dealing with concepts remote to a modern audience. The visual illustrations are excellent. I could only wish the works of art had identifying captions.
Date published: 2020-04-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Prof. Bart D. Ehrman :Extraordinary Mind. This Course expose in a rational way, before, during, and after everything about Jesus. This historical exposition explain all you want to know, old, new testament and everything related to Jesus. There is one thing ? that escape to Prof.Ehrman ,is a very strong and important observation on my part. I like to pass this observation ?
Date published: 2020-04-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unintelligible pricing. I bought this a couple of weeks ago for twenty-five dollars. Great buy; I had read the book but still got a lot out of this. I recommended it to my brother, but it would cost him $235. I found it was still showing up as $25 when I looked for it, so I offered to buy it for him. I got all the way through the ordering process before finding out it would cost me $235 to get it for him. This was not after the sale ended; it was still going on. So he settled for the same author’s New Testament course for $40. Funny, that course would have cost me $25. There’s a strategy behind this but I confess I can’t figure it out. So: good course for the price, but I would never have paid $235 for it.
Date published: 2020-04-09
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Too Much Preaching I was disappointed in Professor Ehrman's delivery. It reminded me of a preacher at the pulpit. It's the kind of rhetoric I find to often be one sided and therefore off-putting.
Date published: 2020-04-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Interesting but misleading and flawed. While there were some very interesting and enlightening aspects to Ehrman's presentation the title should have been "How Jesus became God from an atheist perspective". As a Christian I found very offensive his assertion that the resurrection was a mass hallucination by his disciples and 500 others. To support this opinion he cites other more recent mass hallucinations including one supported by photographic evidence. Up until that point I did not know a camera could hallucinate. His denial of the resurrection ruined the whole presentation for me although much of the rest seemed pretty good from a historical perspective. Had I known Ehrman is an atheist I would not have purchased this course, even for the very discounted price, and I cannot recommend it.
Date published: 2020-02-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting There is so much information. But it all points to the same conclusion. To bad that people think you are not saved unless you believe that Jesus is God. Never mind the 68 verses that says he is the Son of God. They don’t even want to think about it.
Date published: 2020-02-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from VERY disappointing. Lacks rigor in his analysis. First, this is my first review. I just want to say that I LOVE the Great Courses and in particular the Great Courses Plus. For 10 dollars per month, I get a huge library for learning. THANK YOU! Being someone that loves to learn about various religions, I was very excited to view this course on the Great Courses Plus. I got a copy of the Bible (the one I got was a New International Version) and sat down to watch. I watched and paused to look up the parts of the text he was referring to so that I could follow along and better understand his teachings. He begins by explaining the criteria we should use to determine authenticity of a scripture as having been from Christ (and not changed by later writers). His criteria included: 1. Is the same lesson in more than one book/source. This makes sense... if it is from various authors of the Bible, it is more likely that it came from Christ and not some individual writer. 2. Does the lesson contradict what the later Church leaders would want it to say. This makes sense--if it goes against what the later church leaders wanted, then it is more likely it is credible. An example could be in John 14 when Christ says that the Father ("God") is greater than he (Jesus) is. This goes against a claim from many Church Leaders that they were equal. Good chance later church leaders did not add that. 3. Whether it is a teaching consistent with Judaism of the 1st century... HUH?? It is a DIFFERENT religion. There seemed to be so many times in at least the Bible that I was looking at where Jesus specifically went against what the leaders of Judaism were saying at the time. This third element of the criteria does not make any sense at all. Beyond that: I was alarmed at how often he would make very simple errors in his analysis. For example, he claimed that a pronoun must have been referring to one person, but in fact the reason was based upon a reference four paragraphs earlier. The pronoun had been used to refer to a different subject since then. Another example: He said that Jews thought a lot of people were "gods"--this REALLY piqued my interest. As I mentioned, I am fascinated by religions and this was very new to what I had previously thought of Judaism (or Christianity). As "proof", the Prof Bart mentions that King David had been called 'lord'. This is a logical fallacy based upon an equivocation. The term 'lord' CAN mean 'god', but people are often called 'lord' if they are political leaders (a King, for example... or in the United Kingdom, they have an entire chamber called the "House of Lords"... they are not "gods"). I am VERY hopeful that the Great Courses will provide more courses on various religions. I would NOT, however, recommend this course.
Date published: 2020-02-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from was a gift for my mom I am sure she will enjoy her gift of How Jesus Became God
Date published: 2020-01-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent and well researcjed Bart Ehrman is the author of several books and one of the finest scholars of religious history out there. Unlike some authors who let their religious belief affect their judgement, Ehrman sticks to the facts as they are known
Date published: 2020-01-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Of Value, but Flawed I've read both the positive and negative reviews of this course and find myself somewhere in the middle. I strongly disagree with those who attack the professor for teaching a biased, deeply flawed course based on his own personal religious beliefs. I understand that Ehrman may have come to question certain aspects of his faith, but I do not believe in the slightest that he is disrespectful of people of faith or their religious beliefs. He states clearly and objectively all relevant views and their place in history, and, I believe, with respect and historical objectivity. I believe firmly, for the most part, his own personal views have not weakened or distorted his teaching. On the other hand, I do see moments in the course where I think the Professor seems combative in ways that seem unnecessary. An example is his strong criticism of some Protestants who are skeptical about the enormous number of times in which others have had "sightings" of Mary through the centuries but easily accept as real the fewer sightings of Jesus. I get his point, but there did seem to be a little animus in his tone. Basically, his overall account of the evolution of thinking about Jesus' divinity, which was the principal focus of the course, was very well done, in my estimation. It filled in gaps in my own understanding. And, for that, I'm grateful. But, just as I praise him in this regard, I must say there are other flaws. The one I'd emphasize would be his broad statements that human beings were deemed divine within Judaism and that God appeared in human form on earth in the Torah. I study the Hebrew Bible extensively, and I believe Ehrman has badly misinterpreted several verses to make these big assertions. The Bible is a huge collection of writings, and the language is often broad enough to be read in multiple possible ways. But most serious religious thinking would conclude that despite the presence of such verses normative Judaism doesn't at all support the easy conclusions the Professor asserts. It's simply wrong to say that human beings about whom we see certain words "suggesting God" were deemed by Judaism to be alternative or additional Divine Beings. That Ehrman says otherwise has caused a loss of some confidence in me in his thinking and teaching. That said, I'm glad I took the course, believe it to be of considerable merit, and would recommend it to others.
Date published: 2019-10-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Time well spent I bought the audio version to listen in my truck to while on a long driving trip. The 12 hours of lectures were a bit longer than I needed, but it filled the time with thought provoking discussion. In the end it finally addressed a question I have had for 55 years, the basic quandary of Christianity: What is the meaning of The Trinity?
Date published: 2019-09-04
Rated 2 out of 5 by from NT redacted I have waited until I had viewed all 24 lectures on the course DVD before writing this customer review. In addition, I read the accompanying course guidebook as well to make sure I had heard the professor's ideas properly. The author's approach to this topic seemed to utilize the historian perspective of NT textual criticism. I did learn several aspects about the Greco-Roman (polytheistic) pagan practices. Their emphasis was on performing the required sacrifices to gain their gods favor in the material needs of this life. Also, I learned some things regarding the presuppositions and guidelines used by these historians when applying textual criticism of the New Testament. They appear to value independent written sources (which are very limited outside the NT itself). Concerning the Gospels, they favor Mark (written first, more stories in common). Also, they apply their own probabilty criterion to biblical accounts based on their view of what was "likely to have occurred". Using their criteria, they have excluded any miracles as being considered improbable or impossible. Even more earthly events are discredited such as the triumphal entry into Jerusalem or Jesus being placed in his own tomb. It wasn't until Lecture 6 that I realized how drastic an approach the author was presenting as I quote the following two portions from the course guidebook: "That is the understanding that Jesus was, and understood himdself to be, an apocalyptic prophet" (pg 31) "Jesus almost certainly did not think of himself as the Son of Man. It is true that in the Gospels, he calls himself by that name, but we must remember that the Gospels are Christian texts written by Christian authors. These authors had heard their stories about Jesus from Christian story tellers, and for decades, the stories, including the sayings of Jesus, had been changed." (pg 34) My brief review of the Gospel of Mark (NIV) found ten verses where Jesus referred to himself as the "Son of Man". These verses are: Mk 2:10, 8:31, 8:38, 9:31-33, 10:45, 13:26, 13:32, 14:21, 14:41, 14:62 In addition, others calling Jesus this name are found in verses: Mk 1:9-11, 3:11, 5:6; 8:29, 9:7 If the critical historians think that these 15 referenced verses in Mark were intentionally altered/invented by later Christians on this single topic alone, then the integrity of the originally written Gospels is being denied. I can appreciate the value in charting how the early Church's understanding of Jesus as revealed in the Gospels developed over time. But it seems fruitless to debate the steps of the "Christian recipe" if one declares that the NT books have already been "cooked". In summary, I was disappointed with this course as it failed to present differing interpretations of the New Testament's portrayal of Jesus. Instead it has presumed the viewpoint of the historians of NT textual criticism. The reader has no definite idea which NT verses/chapters have been expunged as unacceptable by these historians. For these modern historians who emphasize source documents written close to the time period of past events, it seems rather contradictory to propose a progression in the elevated status of Jesus based on their New Testament redactions made 2000 years later. The question of Jesus still echoes over the centuries: Mk 8:29 "But what about you?" he asked. Who do you say I am?
Date published: 2019-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic, fascinating course Incredible history - my biggest take away is that Christianity is by it's very nature filled with different, legitimate beliefs. This is not a result of different "cults." From it's inception, it was a religion based on personal understanding and reconciliations. There is not one "correct way' to believe or worship. The instructor is very knowledgeable and directs information for you (me) to decide what it means to you (me).
Date published: 2019-07-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Amazing You will truly enjoy this lecture series. Dr. Ehrman dispassionately walks you through first century Palestine then on to third and fourth century Rome and Asia minor. He is a delightful storyteller who draws you close to his cherished subject matter.
Date published: 2019-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating subject Full disclosure: I'm a non-Christian, so I do not have any personal beliefs bound up in the subject matter of this class. I'm finding the subject intriguing and the lectures extremely informative (I've noted a couple of minor errors regarding the Hebrew scriptures--e.g., "roi" does not mean "king," it means "my shepherd"). I could imagine that, for a serious Christian believer, some of the materials presented regarding the evolution of Christian dogma might prove challenging; still, if you can handle that, these lectures are extremely well-researched and presented in a lucid and entertaining manner.
Date published: 2019-06-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Course Excellent work done by this professor in his thorough research on this topic. He speaks well, is passionate and covers the subject matter in depth. One of the best courses I've purchased.
Date published: 2019-06-19
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