Uncovering Early Christianity
The Best of Bart Ehrman
Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman’s bestselling books have introduced the general public to some of the most challenging and controversial ideas of modern Biblical scholarship. Now, BAS Library members can watch or listen to four exclusive full-length lectures by Ehrman on topics ranging from forgeries and counter-forgeries in the New Testament to how and when Jesus became divine. Start uncovering the hidden world of early Christianity today!
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Jesus was not the only person considered the Son of God in the ancient world. Other “divine men” were also said to have been born miraculously, to have healed the sick, fed the multitudes, cast out demons, and raised the dead, and who at the end of their lives were thought to have ascended to the heavenly realm to live forever. Why do we never hear of these others? And was Jesus the real thing, whereas all these others were frauds and impostors? This lecture considers some of the other Sons of God, and examines the ways in which Jesus was both similar and different. (44 min.)
Both within the New Testament and in later Christian gospels, writings that describe the death of Jesus increasingly declare Pilate innocent of the whole proceeding. The logic of this exoneration gives rise to an obvious question: If Pilate is not guilty for condemning an innocent Jesus to death, then who is? The early Christian answer? “The Jews.” This lecture examines these ongoing attempts to exculpate Pilate and inculpate the Jews in the death of Jesus, paying particular attention to non-canonical gospels, some of which declared that Pilate eventually became a Christian convert and martyr. (55 min.)
A number of pseudepigraphic works survive from Jewish and Christian antiquity. The Hebrew Bible contains at least two instances (Daniel and Ecclesiastes); the New Testament has many more (the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, etc.). In each of these examples, an author falsely claims to be a famous person. Some scholars have argued that this was an acceptable practice in the ancient world, and that such books should not be tarnished with the term “forgeries.” Is this true? Or did the ancients themselves consider such books to be deceitful lies? This presentation considers what ancient authors said about books written under a false name and about the people who wrote them. (55 min.)
Scholars have long known that a number of the earliest Christian writings are “forgeries”—books written by unknown authors claiming to be someone famous (e.g., one of the apostles). What is less known is that some of these forgeries were written to counter other books that were also forgeries. This lecture looks at two such “counter-forgeries”—one that made it into the canon of scripture (the first-century book of “James”) and one that did not (the second-century “Letter of Peter”). (58 min.)
About Bart Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the early Church and the life of Jesus. A scholar who has been able to reach a wide popular audience, Ehrman is the author of more than 20 books, including the New York Times bestsellers Misquoting Jesus and Jesus Interrupted. He has been featured in Time magazine and has appeared on NBC’s Dateline, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, The History Channel, National Geographic, NPR and other top media outlets.