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How Jesus Became God  By  cover art

How Jesus Became God

By: Bart D. Ehrman,The Great Courses
Narrated by: Bart D. Ehrman
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Publisher's Summary

The early Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God completely changed the course of Western civilization. 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 Ehrman returns with the unprecedented historical inquiry of How Jesus Became God. In 24 provocative lectures, Professor Ehrman takes you deep 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. 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.

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 developments. Join a renowned biblical scholar in grappling with this pivot.

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

©2014 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2014 The Great Courses

What listeners say about How Jesus Became God

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Go for it!

I've read a of the author's books and this is a good overview of much of his material. If you're interested in a historical understanding of how our understanding and interpretation of J.C. has come to be this is a great course. I like history and for myself, that is essentially what this course is. If you happen to be an ardent believer, belonging to any of the many forms of Christianity... Well, for one I applaud you for seeking a deeper fact based understanding of your faith. However, for someone who believes the Bible is the direct word of God, and does not want that belief challenged, this may cause some major cognitive dissonance.

33 people found this helpful

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Makes sense

I was raised Catholic and this flipped my upbringing upside down. I honestly wonder what most Catholics would say when asked to describe the Son of Man. Most probably would say it was a name for Jesus. Thinking of Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet really changes things.

The lecturer was engaging and well informed. He did end up screaming the whole time, and his tone alone makes me think he has a somewhat biased view against Christianity. He sounded like he was very determined to prove a point and prove his argument. I don't think any of the information presented was necessarily faulty, but his tone certainly didn't sound calm and rational. Not a huge deal.

23 people found this helpful

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Argument Is Not History

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend this book to a mature friend with the time to investigate more deeply. The book consists of numerous assertions by a presumed authority, relying on ancient texts. It is therefore easy to buy into bold but poorly supported assertions.

Would you be willing to try another book from The Great Courses and Bart D. Ehrman ? Why or why not?

Unlikely. I am rather put off by the Professor's personal agenda.

How could the performance have been better?

The performance could have been improved by a more balanced presentation of views, and by a less strident argumentative tone. I felt at times that Dr. Ehrman could relax his voice a bit.

Did How Jesus Became God inspire you to do anything?

The presentation compelled me to look more deeply into the scriptures and history of the time, and to reflect on assumptions I may have made without deep examination. Having done so, I am more convinced, not less, that Jesus was unique in history of the world because of who he was, not because of what others wanted him to be. Were it merely a matter of wishful thinking, as Erhman suggests, the story of Jesus would have simply disappeared. But his followers saw and believed, and because they saw, they were even ready to die for what they knew to be true.

Any additional comments?

Dr. Erhman refers to Simon ben Kosiba early in the presentation as a messiah claimant living not long after Jesus who exhibited many of the same indicators of divinity that Jesus possessed. Having set up a list of messiah-like actions, including the performing of miracles, Erhman then dramatically identifies the messiah claimant not as Jesus, but as a messiah contender, presumably Simon ben Kosiba, the only other Jewish identified self-proclaimed Messiah of the time. The problem is that the depiction is false and the parallels greatly overdrawn. Simon ben Kosiba was a militant, with a political agenda, and who's so-called miracles were not as recorded or numerous as those of the Christ. In another distortion, Dr. Erhman states that Jesus was also a political rebel with a political purpose, and killed for political reasons. This is simply false. The consistent message of all the sources is that Jesus renounced and denied a political kingdom. Jesus himself stated his Kingdom was not of this world, and he explicitly renounced the use of force.

19 people found this helpful

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Good Storyteller...

This is a well written and well researched book. I disagree with the conclusion that Jesus is not God's son and thus part of the Holy Trinity though. I do enjoy hearing other people's ideas so that part was enjoyable. This teacher is a good storyteller as well. My only complaint about the book is that the author seems to use some circular logic - for example early on he goes to some trouble to show that we must accept the gospels as a reliable historical sources then later he goes to some trouble to show why the gospel writers are not reliable.

17 people found this helpful

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Interesting topic, but the narration?

I love Dr. Ehrman's books. His scholarship and writing are outstanding. I have emailed him some follow-up questions, and he has always responded promptly and graciously.

Many of Dr. Ehrman's books are narrated by other people. I was curious to hear from Dr. Ehrman himself, so I purchased this course. Now I understand. Unfortunately, Dr. Ehrman's speaking/lecturing voice can be grating to my ears. That couldn't help but detract from my interest in what he was saying.

I continue to respect Dr. Ehrman's scholarship and writing, but I can't recommend his lectures. Maybe he can take some voice lessons to learn to modulate his tones when lecturing. Until then, I strongly recommend his books that are read by others, but not necessarily the lectures he does himself.

16 people found this helpful

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History Not Theology

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

2000 years is a long time. What do we really know about Jesus? And how did what we think we know come to be constructed? Ehrman makes the case that Jesus' resurrection is possibly the most significant historical event of modern times. What really happened? If you wonder, if you like having new facts and opinions about things you have always taken for granted, then this course is for you.

Have you listened to any of Professor Bart D. Ehrman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I've read or listened to a couple of Professor Ehrman's books and courses on early Christianity, so worried that this would be too repetitious, but there was plenty of new ideas and facts to keep me amazed.

14 people found this helpful

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Vey informative

Where does How Jesus Became God rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

It's the best lecture I have heard.

What other book might you compare How Jesus Became God to and why?

There is no comparison.

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

He was very objective and unbiased.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

No, it was a lecture.

Any additional comments?

This is an excellent lecture from a historical perspective on how Christianity developed, and evolved. This is not a fundamental view, but a historical view.

14 people found this helpful

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Factual Inaccuracies

What disappointed you about How Jesus Became God?

As part of "The Great Courses" series I expected a high quality of academic accuracy. However, there were several unsupported assertions made by Professor Ehrman. Then compounding the errors, deductive rational was drawn from the unsupported assertions. Poor excuse for academic work - absolutely not a "Great Course"

11 people found this helpful

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More Needs To Be Said

What did you love best about How Jesus Became God?

It is a very good and though presentation but is a bit slippery at times. Be sceptical in listening.

What did you like best about this story?

Variety

Have you listened to any of Professor Bart D. Ehrman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

Yes. About the same.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

See extensive review bellow. I wrote it even before finishing the lecture because he does not mention the artifact.

Any additional comments?


Resurrection

The lecturer rightly tells us Christianity began when followers of Jesus began to believed they had been visited by Jesus after his death. Further the lecturer rightly tells us this had nothing to do with an empty tomb and rightly observes non-Christians often attribute hallucinations and that Christians often do not call these hallucinations.

Hallucinations or not visitations ARE described in spiritual rather then corporal terns more often then not. For instance, apostles talk and walk with him not recognizing who he is until revealed. Accordingly the phenomena described are not at odds with either definition. A distinction without much of a difference.

However, I have one very serious challenge to the lecturer regarding tombs. We have a physical artifact that I am convinced confounds the entire discussion; the shroud of Turin. Lets get one thing straight from the start. The Carbon 14 test was contaminated by a medieval cotton patch interwoven with the linen cloth. This is not even worth much discussion and ranks up there with Piltdown man and is a scandal.

But that's just for starters. The surface of the linen was pressed with tape in numerous areas to collect debris for testing. The tape samples collected pollen and mineral residue that are spine chilling. For instance, pollen from a thistle plant ONLY found in the Jerusalem area was prolific in large amounts around the head area. And the mineral samples were consistent with Jerusalem minerals such as might be found in a rock cut tomb.

And there is a little bit more. The linen cloth is a very expensive 3 to 1 herringbone weave that is hank bleached. Hank bleaching rather eliminates medieval provenance because such an expensive weave would NOT have been hank bleached in medieval times. It would have been prepared as a very clean white bleach by a method not known in the first century.

And so I ask myself when, where, and by whom would an expensive hank bleached linen have been procured to wrap what is clearly and forensically a victim of crucifixion. An image of a man with side wound, Roman scourge marks, head puncture wounds, crucifixion marks on a shroud full of Palestinian pollen.

I do not claim this is Jesus's burial cloth. I do, however, require someone to give a better explanation before I dismiss it.



11 people found this helpful

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Learned a Lot About Origins of Christianity

Would you listen to How Jesus Became God again? Why?

Yes. There is so much great information in this book that I am definitely going to have to listen to it 2 or 3 times to really absorb what was taught. But I had great retention of the material so it was definitely lots of information given out at a good pace.

Any additional comments?

Coming from a Catholic background, I had been indoctrinated to the beliefs with no real knowledge of the bible or its origins. In general Catholics do not try to understand their own religion, they just do what they are told and the church generally likes it that way - no annoying "why?" questions to answer from their congregation. This is what really turned me off to my religious upbringing.

This lecture series helped me really understand the New Testamate and where it came from. The author is very careful to separate out what we know from what we believe to be true and why. He does a great job explaining the origins of many of the books of the New Testamate as well. And you get a really good feel for the people and their thinking during the first four centuries after Jesus's death.

I did get a little of a sense for the lecturer's opinion of what he believes to be true but it was so faint that I am not entirely sure. He worked hard to keep his beliefs out of the discussion and just lay out the facts of what religious scholars know, what they THINK they know and why they see it that way.

I will definitely be looking for more lectures by this author. I am finally getting a grasp on the religion I was brought up with and gaining a deeper understanding of the roots of a religion that drives a very large portion of thought in today's world.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Gallus Wilko
  • 05-02-15

Unconvincing polemic

What disappointed you about How Jesus Became God?

I am not a theologian but I do have an honours degree in History and have had some training and experience in sources and analysis. As a non-expert, I found the author's arguments tenuous at best and unconvincing generally.

He comes across as trying to fit facts to his theory and he struggles. From what I can gather Dr Ehrman is a rather eccentric academic and not widely accepted by his peers. Well what's new; academics fight! However I was disappointed by the lack of depth and the real effort he seems to make in selection of facts and their interpretation to suit.

I found the book disappointing for these reasons. I know there are a number of academic critiques of Dr Ehrman's work which have found his work wanting so I suppose if you buy this and give it a listen you owe it to yourself to give them a hearing too.

What does Professor Bart D. Ehrman bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I enjoy his natural presentation and he has a pleasant speaking voice

What character would you cut from How Jesus Became God?

N/A

8 people found this helpful

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  • Elaine
  • 09-16-18

Jesus the god explained

Prof B Erhman is very passionate about the subject and keeps you interested even as a lay person with little knowledge I love listening to his lectures and books
This is no exception

6 people found this helpful

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  • swheelie
  • 03-02-15

Excellent exposition of Christian doctrine

Really enjoyed this. Essential companion for anyone reading the New Testament who wants to know how it came to be.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 02-23-19

excellent

interesting I knew so little but I thought I knew so much before reading this book

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 01-27-18

Excellent course

Excellent content and narration. Very enlightening and informative. As with all of Prof. Ehrmans books and lectures, could not stop listening.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Glazier
  • 02-09-16

Sound Theology

Great theological and historical content applied. Narration is not word perfect but has a engaging tone.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan
  • 03-29-15

Another fantastic Ehrman course

This is my third of the Great Courses given by Professor Ehrman and it continues at the same level -- absolutely first rate. Both the lecturing style and the material made me want to keep listening. This course covers both the period around Jesus' life and subsequent developments in Christianity over the next few centuries. A detailed summary of the content, including titles of each lecture, can be found on the Great Courses web site. For me it provided a highly revealing account of this key period in Christian history and I highly recommend it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Md Lachlan
  • 01-27-15

Eye opening stuff

What did you like most about How Jesus Became God?

Clear, very authoritative with a powerful message. His personal journey from ultra conservative fundamentalist to agnostic is very interesting too.

What was one of the most memorable moments of How Jesus Became God?

How many animals is Jesus riding when he enters Jerusalem?

Have you listened to any of Professor Bart D. Ehrman’s other performances? How does this one compare?

No

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

Yes, but very long.

Any additional comments?

He has a slightly hectoring style, which give away his Texas preacher roots. It's fine and engaging for a while but after a couple of hours you feel like a break. There's only so much zeal and gusto one can take! Nevertheless, an engaging speaker who clearly knows his subject inside out.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Mr A.
  • 11-16-19

Highly recommended.

I have listened to this twice now and will, no doubt, come back to it a third time.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Ifeanyi Odike
  • 01-13-19

Boring and devoid of substantial evidence.

I was sourly disappointed by this lecture, having recently listened to the Great lecture on Africa, from Lucy to Mandela. I was looking forward to another evidence-based journey (this time) into the world of Jesus Christ or at least the early Christians. Instead I got boring references in mythology.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alison
  • 07-17-17

highly recommended

enthusiastically presented. well documented. eye opening and challenging. exposes many myths. will listen to it again.

2 people found this helpful

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  • K-2
  • 01-04-21

Engaging

Every lecture has a lot of information that is cut and prepared in way easy to follow and digest. It is one of the best courses I have followed so far.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Simon J Griffiths
  • 04-23-19

excellent series

very thorough and logically presented. this should be mandatory reading for every Christian before attempting to prothletise other people

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-17-19

Excellent book for theists and non-theists

This is a truly interesting set of lectures and I had so much fun with Bart’s style of narration.

Bart tackles his book from a historical perspective but does not shy too much from his atheistic beliefs and gives a brief explanation as to the other explanations on offer to explain Christianity’s most pressing questions.

This is an eye-opening book for Christians and incredibly intriguing book for atheists.

1 person found this helpful

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  • MrKay
  • 12-03-20

Sooo informative.

Wow! Soo informative. You have to sit with pen and paper for this one. Great reading by the author hinself