Review: How Jesus Became God. The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher From Galilee – Bart D. Ehrman

My version: Audiobook
Genre: Non Fiction, Christianity
Harper One
First published: 2014
ISBN: 978-0061778193
Pages: 416
Subscription to StoryTel

From the cover:
New York Times bestselling author and Bible expert Bart Ehrman reveals how Jesus’s divinity became dogma in the first few centuries of the early church.
The claim at the heart of the Christian faith is that Jesus of Nazareth was, and is, God. But this is not what the original disciples believed during Jesus’s lifetime—and it is not what Jesus claimed about himself. How Jesus Became God tells the story of an idea that shaped Christianity, and of the evolution of a belief that looked very different in the fourth century than it did in the first.
A master explainer of Christian history, texts, and traditions, Ehrman reveals how an apocalyptic prophet from the backwaters of rural Galilee crucified for crimes against the state came to be thought of as equal with the one God Almighty, Creator of all things. But how did he move from being a Jewish prophet to being God? In a book that took eight years to research and write, Ehrman sketches Jesus’s transformation from a human prophet to the Son of God exalted to divine status at his resurrection. Only when some of Jesus’s followers had visions of him after his death—alive again—did anyone come to think that he, the prophet from Galilee, had become God. And what they meant by that was not at all what people mean today.
Written for secular historians of religion and believers alike, How Jesus Became God will engage anyone interested in the historical developments that led to the affirmation at the heart of Christianity: Jesus was, and is, God.

My first introduction to the work of Mr Erlman. His background would seem to be in the ‘orthodox’ church system, but at some point he seems to have had a ‘road to Damascus’ moment, in reverse (if you know your Christianity). Suddenly, the inconsistencies and the pure ridiculousness, got too much.

What is good though, is that he isn’t anti-Christianity, as from his introduction to himself, could have forgiven him for being. He is objective. Very, very objective.

As has to go with the job, he needs to cross every single t and dot every single i, wherever and whenever they appear. Because there will surely be some smart-ass somewhere or other, annoyed at having their fantasy world exposed to reality, that would jump on one from a great height, using it as an excuse to dismiss the whole book, all his work and him himself. That is a theme running through all the books about the origins of Christianity that I have read and far from making them dull, it just makes them even more interesting. As here.

He is starting from the fact that the early church, the one that ‘Jesus’ started, or was started in his name, did not believe that he was divine. He was a man, he said some very sensible things about being a Jew, and he died. When ‘Christians’ started believing he was God and why, is what the book is all about.

It is a fascinating and very readable book, with plenty of interesting points and always objective. I’ve read several in this ‘genre’ and after seeing a something of his background, was a little concerned that he was going to come all religious on me. Needn’t have worried. You could use this as a good way in to other books working in the same area. You’re never going to remember all the facts next time the Jehova’s or Mormons come knocking, but it’ll help.

You can buy How Jesus Became God from The Book Depository

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