So when I bought this book on a whim who knows how long ago, I expected it to be a collection of interesting contradictions in Biblical statements I thought that Ehrman might do something like contrast 1 Corinthians 14:33 (For God is not a God of disorder but of peace) with Matthew 10:34 (I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword) Then we'd all get a good laugh out of the ridiculous of it all.Jesus, Interrupted is not a book about these surface level contradictions In fact, it was farcompelling than I expected, because Ehrman actually focused on what certain contradictions can teach us about the early Christian church and the historical context The result was seriously mindblowing, because the book lead me to doubt whether the bible actually teaches some seemingly foundational ideas, like whether Jesus saw himself as the Messiah or whether the church has any real reason to accept the idea of a holy trinity.This feels like the correct time for an obligatory disclosure: I am an atheist/humanist who was raised Catholic, so I have no strong ties to metaphysical biblical teachings and I've never given serious thought to the idea that the bible could be the inerrant word of God I sometimes wish that I could be a secular Catholic, because some of the traditions are super fun, but apparently that's not allowed Whatev However, considering that I like literature, I have to admit that the bible is a pretty important historical document (I mean, try to read MobyDick; or, The Whale without biblical background knowledge I dare you.) Anyway, I thought that I had a fairly decent understanding of the bible, given that I've read large swaths of it in a few different contexts But, as it turns out, I really had no idea.The cool thing about Jesus, Interrupted is that it's epistemologically interesting Ehrman first explains how contradictions in the bible can be found: by reading horizontally, which pretty much means reading the same stories as they appear in different gospels, back to back What happens is that you start to see some weird stuff, like Mathew claiming that Jesus cried out on the cross My god, my god, why you have forsaken me? while Luke claims he said Father into your hands I commit my spirit And, if you think about it, the two different gospels are actually pretty irreconcilable, in terms of the type of Jesus that they depict So a careful reader might think, yo, what's up with that? If these two gospel writers were both there, and both knew Jesus intimately, then why would they report the event in such completely different ways.Well, that brings us to the fact that the apostles didn't actually write the gospels (something that I knew, but that doesn't seem to be widespread knowledge) And the writers of the bible had different viewpoints The ways that they switch up the stories can tell us about the viewpoints, but only if we look closely Through a close reading, with careful attention paid to the contradictions, scholars can get a sense of who the gospel writers were, and why they created the type of christianity that they did The whole story is completely fascinating.I recommend this book for everyone, both people of faith and nonbelievers While it's true that Erhman is now an agnostic, the contradictions in the bible didn't cause him to lose his faith, a fact that he repeatedly points out throughout the book (he lost faith because he couldn't reconcile the amount of suffering in the world with the teachings of Christianity, which he details in I read the first half of this book with friends and then gave up on it I felt like Erhman consistently took advantage of his credentials and readers' ignorance to make claims that would not stand up to rigorous inquiry He completely dismisses centuries of scholarship and the entire discipline of hermeneutics when he claims all sorts of contradictions in the Bible Does he really think devoted Christians who believe the Bible have not noticed these things before? That Calvin wrote his institutes without doing both a horizontal and vertical reading of the Gospels? Does he honestly believe everyone who graduates from seminary has lost their faith in the Bible but fails to tell their congregations out of fear? And since when did the majority or consensus of scholars/seminaries exclude all evangelical scholars and seminaries (which actually make up the 10 largest seminaries in the U.S.)? I could go on, but I would just urge anyone not to settle for Erhman's straw men, but to look for better sources, including N.T Wright, C.S Lewis, Tim Keller, or R.C Sproul. Picking up where Bible expert Bart Ehrman's New York Times bestseller Misquoting Jesus left off, Jesus, Interrupted addresses the larger issue of what the New Testament actually teaches—amp; it's not what most people think Here Ehrman reveals what scholars have unearthed:•The authors of the New Testament have diverging views about who Jesus was amp; how salvation works•The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later•Jesus, Paul, Matthew amp; John all represented fundamentally different religions•Established Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus amp; the trinity—were the inventions of still later theologiansThese aren't idiosyncratic perspectives of just one scholar They've been the standard widespread views of scholars across a full spectrum of denominations amp; traditions Why is it most people have never heard such things? This is the book that pastors, educators amp; anyone interested in the Bible have been waiting for—a compelling account of the central challenges faced when attempting to reconstruct Jesus' life amp; message I’m going to catch Hell for this………..The Bible is the most boring book ever written Ever This book has some very interesting observations and conclusions, but the author admitted he was delving into the minutia of the Bible but that he just couldn’t help himself, he then stated “I’m going to stop that now.” Soon after a few cogent points, he was right back at it God love him.Bart D Ehrman knows his stuff when it comes to religion and the Bible, in particular The guy hasdegrees on religious studies than a hooker has one night stands, so when he makes a statement about Jesus and/or the Bible, I tend to believe him ‘cause I sure as Hell am not going to read the thing myself He does, so I don’t have too What Ehrman does here is to take all the books of the Bible, Mark, Luke, John, Phil (just checking if you were paying attention.) and lines them up horizontally Most of the time, when a person reads the Bible (usually when having major insomnia) they read it one book after the other That makes perfect sense, and when you read it that way you don’t see anything odd But when you line the books up next to each other you see discrepancies, major ones, like the actual day of Jesus’ death Discrepancies should not be a big surprise to most people The Bible was written a really fricken long time after Jesus died Decades AFTER the apostles were dust The only source of information about Jesus’ story was through oral tradition…..ever play the telephone game? Then one day ‘someone’ wrote it all down; but who? The apostles were illiterate (in the Bible) and very, very dead Mark, Luke, John and Phil did not write their own books.Other interesting tid bits…..1 Jesus was not born in Bethlehem, he was born in Nazareth Why would you travel to birth your son with some cows and chickens and some creepy old wise men just to turn around and go back home? Because, you need to line up a prophecy that the messiah was to be born in Bethlehem Insert deity here.2 Jesus never claimed to be God.3 Homosexuality was not condemned in the Bible as a bad thing simply because the concept of homosexuality did not exist in those times I know what you’re thinking “But Stephanie, what are you talking about? Gay people have always been around, making the place better.” True Men slept with men and women with women in those days just as they do now, but it wasn’t vilified It was not even in their thought bubble that it was wrong Sexual orientation was not even a concept until the 19th century It’s true So it was never thought of as unusual until then.Isn’t that fascinating?This book was good, but all the nuts and bolts of the Bible made my head spin I think this book is for the person who really, really believed(s) in the Bible and now maybe wanting to open their minds a bit to consider the possibility that It isn’t a perfect or infallible book……..just incredibly boring. Absolutely fantastic! I've read Bart Ehrman before, but I believe this is my favorite so far.In Jesus Interrupted, the author looked at the Bible, specifically the life of Jesus from a historic view rather than a devotional one He showed contradictions and fallacies in the New Testament By his own account, he doesn't reveal anything that isn't already being taught in most seminaries Unfortunately, the history rarely makes it to the believers.I tend to agree with Dr Ehrman's final remarks that faith would be made stronger by teaching the contradictions and having a transparent view of one's beliefs A closed minded, literal approach to the Bible seems to support Hannah Arendt's philosophy, The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.Amazing read; highly recommended. I have read several of Bart Ehrman's books previously, or listened to his lecture series: The New Testament (Great Courses series), From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity (Parts 1 and 2) (Great Courses), Lost Christianities, and now the present book For some reason Goodreads isn't showing many of his books, and I'm not up for laboriously adding them tonight This is surprising, for surely he has a wide readership Bart Ehrman is one of those writers about whom it is said he is famous for writing the same book over and over There is some truth in that Certainly, in reading, I recognize paragraphs I've heard in the lectures He may not reinvent the wheel when doing those lectures.What Bart Ehrman does is deconstruct the New Testament He shows the inconsistencies between the various Gospels and epistles Then he shows that the reason for those inconsistencies is that the various writers each have their various theological points to make and lessons to teach Along the way he also shows that mostly we don't know who was doing the writing nor do we know whether most of the authors are who they say they are To boil down what he shows, it is that the intrinsic meaning does not reside in Jesus but in the theology and teaching The various writers have considerable disagreement on what that intrinsic meaning is What Ehrman does, he does well, at a nottootechnical level that is intended for a lay audience, not scholars.Although Ehrman, as I say, deconstructs the treatments of the various books of the New Testamentshowing how each author writes according to his own needs and expectations, and those of his communitywhat he does not much touch on is that community in which Jesus is set, that is, the Jews He treats the Jewish leaders in the traditional way, as all working together, though it is commonly known that isn't historical He treats Jewish belief as monolithic, although it was an age of Jewish sectarianism He is traditionally anachronistic about such things as Jewish law and keeping kosher, which were later developments He has no notion of the new views of Paul In those and manyways he maintains traditional ideas He does not address the extent to which the picture of Judaism he accepts as monolithic and historical is itself constructed according to the needs of the various writers and their communities The writers had their theological points to make, just as they did regarding other aspects of the narrative Ehrman, while at points deploring antiJudaism in Christian tradition, for the most part leaves the basis of it untouched.Bart Ehrman's general thesis about the NT will come as a shock to New Testament literalists To others the idea that religions have something to teach even when the adherent is not a fundamentalist will be old news Unfortunately, because of the aspects Ehrman leaves untouched, I think the typical reader won't find it hard to continue picturing Jesus and his followers as arraigned against dead religion, as having morphed into a different or better Jew or into a Christian, or having come to reform his society and take Judaism in the intended direction Those are not uncommon views for people who have moved away from scriptural literalism but remain literal about the relationship of Jesus and the Jews.Once before I tried to email Bart Ehrman with a similar question It is often possible to contact authors who are college professors by email That's something wonderful that we have in our age of electronic communication From Ehrman, though, I got no response Maybe I'll try again!Addendum: My husband got on my case for giving Jesus, Interrupted only three stars His point is that what he does, he does very well, and it needed to be done I don't get the feeling Ehrman errs deliberately I could be wrong, but it seems to be a case of his seeing only as far as he does and no further He simply didn't get his head far enough above water to see further I think It's still a serious omission (On the other hand, I think Marcus Borg, of whom I have read smatterings, may take his similar tack deliberately.)I believe every people or group has a right to develop their own identity Only not on the backs of, or at the expense of, someone else. An eyeopener This book points out the inconsistencies in the Bible But it is written positively or with no malice of putting down one's faith It just makes the reader aware of those inconsistencies so one can search for truth be it in further research by readingbooks or internet entries or, in my case, search from the bottom of my heart on those deepseated beliefs that no matter how blunt and thoughtprovoking the exposes are, what prevails is that belief that I have since I was a little boy And that is something that is unshakable.The trick to find those inconsistencies is simple: read the Bible horizontally That means put four of the gospels or those letters of St Paul and some minor prophets side by side Read a portion in St Luke for example about genealogy of Christ and the same part in St Matthew You will see the inconsistencies like Luke starts with Adam and Matthew starts with Abraham Matthew of course wants to show the Jewishness of Jesus while Luke focuses on writing for gentiles What's the point here? That these writers had some personal agenda when they wrote their books and those colored the Bible that we now revered as the single source of truth.There are many of those inconsistencies pointed out in the book Too many, in fact, for me to mention here For example, if Mary gave birth as a virgin why did Luke used Joseph in his genealogy? Or the different messages God the Father said during the baptism of Jesus in Jordan River Matthew, Mark and Luke, who wrote their books based on stories they heard (they were not there when the baptism happened), seemed not to agree whether Jesus is His Father's son or just a man with whom His favor rests.I did read this book with much interest but it did not shake my faith I guess I am stubborn or it's just too late for me to worry about these things But this is a nice book especially for those people who have religion and faith as among their favorite topics for conversation Like me. Christians, here is what Dr Ehrman will do for you He'll pick you up at the airport on his own time and with his own car He'll put your bags in the trunk, engage you with small talk, and show you around town so you're comfortable He knows what's going through your head, but once the surroundings arefamiliar, maybe you'll loosen up Then he'll explain why we have the Procedure He knows it's scary, but by now you'll know that a lot of people have been through it As you arrive at the facility with your nerves bubbling, he'll be the friendly voice in your head the whole way, always in tune with what you're feeling Now it's time for the Procedure, and Dr Ehrman knows that for some this is going to hurt A lot But he'll start slow and keep it positive Sure the gospels disagree on some stuff, but that's okay––they're by different authors with different views Trying to mash them together into one supergospel steals away the message from the original and creates your own gospel completely different than what any one of the others has to say Next you'll learn a harder truth to swallow: they're anonymous, and almost certainly not written by the people whose names have been plastered on the cover As for the rest of the NT canon, forgeries and false attributions abound The canon wasn't decided at one time by one group, but was the product of an extended campaign of debates and heresy hunts at the end of which the stronger faction controlled the draft, and often made their picks based upon theological positions There were other books that on another day would have made it in and others that made it in which probably shouldn't have.When the Procedure is over, Dr Ehrman will walk you to the door and kiss you on the cheek He'll remind you that he remained a devout Christian for a decade or so after his own Procedure before a completely separate issue led him to agnosticism In fact, almost all reputable biblical scholars accept and are quite comfortable with the facts you've just been injected with He'll remind you that the Procedure may have some side effects, but as you woozily make your way back to the airport, you'll begin to realize that knowing the facts is the only way to have an informed opinion about anything And that's the only thing the Procedure was ever intended to do.Jesus, Interrupted is the layman's guide to biblical scholarship taught at seminaries and historical institutes all throughout the Western world As Ehrman frequently reminds us, nothing contained herein is particularly new or unknown by anyone who's bothered to look Yet for some reason in the United States churchgoers are largely ignorant of the basic findings of the historicalcritical method This is a passionate and intensely readable remedy The only real controversy to be found is in the book's subtitle, which like with Misquoting Jesus, were it not to have been placed on the cover half of Ehrman's critics would have vanished overnight.What one does with the material is his or her own decision Ehrman isn't a polemicist He's a scholar whose sole purpose is to educate Some will find the book's contents troubling, but if you can build a bridge across your river of tears and get over it, you'll be that much better off. I have written elsewhere in angry fashion about a crisis of faith I experienced a couple of years ago I have emerged from the crisis and entered something of a renaissance in my own faith I haven’t given up on everything I once believed but I also won’t pretend that the faith I now hold is merely a stronger version of what I was taught to believe growing up To be sure, my faith now is much stronger than what I was taught to believe, but it’s also muchthoughtful, intelligent, egalitarian, and flexible.Given where I began my journey as a conservative evangelical Christian, the crisis of faith I experienced was a necessary step if I was to reach the place where I am now Perhaps my crisis was an inevitability given where my journey began and the route my life took But my crisis of faith was neither necessary nor inevitable in an absolute sense That is, my crisis was only necessary by virtue of where I began my faith journey Had I been encouraged to hold (or,precisely, had I not been discouraged from holding) aprogressive view of the Bible and Christian theology in my youth, the crisis of recent years might have been avoided entirely; certainly it would have been mitigated significantly.What I’m getting at here, if I’m really to be honest, is that I can’t help but wonder whether my spiritual journey would have been smoother had I been raised withprogressive beliefs I know it’s not a fair question, not fair to my parents, not fair to my pastors and others who had significant influences in my developmental years I also know that it’s not even a productive question to ask Nevertheless I can’t help but wonder In any case, I do recognize that dwelling on that question gets me nowhere So, whereto now? Well, to explain Bart Ehrman’s books in the context of where I am now, I’ll need to explain where I’ve been.I was raised to believe what I would now politely call a conservative evangelical view of the Bible and Christian theology in general Regarding the Bible, I believed the Good Book represented the literal, inerrant, inspired Word of God Further I was raised in the Solo Scriptura tradition; that is, I believed the Bible, in its fullness, was both necessary and sufficient for proper Christian belief The Bible contained everything one needed to believe and no source other than the Bible—whether Church tradition, personal revelation, or even one’s own ability to reason—could stand above or on par with the Bible as a source of Truth As you might guess, a significant element of my belief system was the underlying assumption that the Bible is always correct Thus, every argument, in my mind, began and ended with the language of scripture: nothing contrary to the Bible could possibly be true, and nothing in the Bible could possibly be untrue As a corollary to this belief I was taught that the Bible always could be harmonized with itself The Bible, I thought, contained no outright contradictions, and any seeming contradictions were merely the result of a failure to properly interpret one passage or the other Finally, I was given to understand in my youth that all Christian theology—the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the path to salvation, the existence of heaven and hell, and so on—was derived from the Bible, even to the point of being necessary logical deductions from scriptural language.The one point that I admittedly struggled with, even as a young man, was whether the Bible was literally true as a historical document Did history play out precisely as the scriptures describe, from the creation of the world through the ages to the coming of the Christ? The creation myth is a good example I was always good at math and science I delighted in learning how the universe works in my physics and chemistry and biology courses from high school all through my undergraduate education I trusted what science told me and I trusted the expertise of those who had devoted their careers to discovering and learning the laws of nature Yet when I was about 20, I became enmeshed in the “creation science” movement I became convinced that the world really was created inside a week’s time and that it happened about six thousand years ago I believed evolution was a farce—that while natural selection was a valid process and some microevolution happens, macroevolution simply couldn’t have happened the way it was taught in universities—and thus that God created life in pretty much its present form I read book after book claiming to teach, in scientific terms, how these things could be Thankfully these sorts of hyperfundamentalist beliefs lasted only a few years before reason won the day I had badly wanted to believe those things because they supported my view of the Bible as the literal and inerrant Word of God, but I could not long retain those beliefs while remaining intellectually honest with myself I came to accept that the universe is many billions of years old and that life evolved over hundreds of millions of years on this planet I never abandoned my belief that God had a hand in the creation of the universe and the rise of intelligent life on Earth—I still haven’t abandoned that belief and I don’t think it’s incompatible with conventional scientific views—but I no longer pretend that my belief in a creator is “science” itself My belief in a creator is faith, pure and simple And if you now try to tell me that the universe was created in six days about six thousand years ago, I’m going to look at you as though you’d told me the Earth was flat Well, in any case, this is a longwinded way of saying that the first brick to fall from my wall of conservative Biblical interpretation, while still in my early 20’s, was my belief in the Bible as a literal historical document.As I approached as passed the age of 30,bricks began to fall By this time I had become close friends with a few gay men and women, and I can tell you that getting to know a gay person on a close, personal level changes everything You can’t have a close friend who is gay while maintaining that being gay is a choice, and, once you recognize that people are born gay, the things the Bible has to say about homosexuality start to seem much less relevant I began to see that much of protestant Christianity, evangelicals in particular, were missing the point with their emphasis on salvation and getting people into the heaven instead of making this life a better one for everybody I started to wonder whether God really wanted me to abrogate my own conscience and ability to reason in favor of someone else’s view of scripture For example, is there really a hell, a place of eternal torment for those poor souls who fail to use the “magic words” to get into heaven? I no longer thought so; I could no longer reconcile the existence of a loving creatorGod with the existence of a place of eternal punishment Jesus’ message, indeed his command, to love our neighbors as ourselves began to resonatewith me than any message of reward and punishment in the afterlife ever could Jesus repeatedly spoke of the imminent coming of the Kingdom of God, yet two thousand years have passed since he said those things Is it possible that he was not, after all, speaking of a coming judgment and His return to Earth, but perhaps he was exhorting his followers to make Earthlike God’s kingdom by loving their fellow humans? Are conservative Christians abrogating their responsibility to help those less fortunate than themselves by focusing on reward and punishment in the afterlife rather than loving their neighbors in this life? These are the sorts of question that I asked myself, and often answered in ways contrary to a conservative, literal interpretation of the Bible These questions ultimately culminated in one of the most important questions of all, one that I believe all Christians must come to grips with at some point: how can a loving God allow such suffering in the world, not just among the “wicked” but also among his most loyal followers? That is the question I was trying to understand in my review of Doomsday Book , and the one I still struggle with the most, having rejected the platitudes and tautologies I once found so comforting And, to the those many Christians who would say that I am wrong because my views are contrary to their biblical interpretation, well, I can only say that I’m no longer willing to sublimate my own conscience and reason to the views of a few humans who lived thousands of years ago.So here I am, having come so far, and only now do I bother to read books that look at the Bible from a historicalcritical perspective, as opposed to a devotional perspective I recently finished Bart Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus and Here’s a question for you How important is it that the Jesus of the Bible and the historical Jesus areor less the same guy? Or even better, how important is it that the ideas Jesus was trying to spread by his ministry are the same ideas that have come to be followed in the various Christian churches?There was a time when I would have thought that all Christians would have wanted to answer both of these questions by saying that it was fundamentally important to their faith that what they currently believe as Christians is exactly what the historical Jesus taught I would have thought that Christians would have developed their ideas about what Christ had to say about the world from the Bible (which, I had always assumed was seen by most Christians as the inspired and inerrant word of God) and that their task, as Christians, would be to come to an increasing understanding of that message by close and intense study.As Ehrman basically says somewhere in this book – if you truly believe that the Bible is a book that God wrote on how you should live your life it seems a bit strange that you might believe that and not have bothered to go on and read it The other side to this is that if the Bible is the inspired word of God then you would not expect there to be any contradictions in it – particularly not in the various tellings of the Jesus story which is presented four times, once in each of the first four books of the New Testament known as the Gospels.But there are differences between these tellings and some of these are not just differences of passing interest only to the pedant – although, I would have thought that the guy responsible for creating the Universe might have been the world’s worst pedant, myself No, some of these tellings actually say opposite things, that is, are literally contradictory And some of the differences have fundamental theological significance This is a book that looks at what scholarship is able to tell us about the historical Jesus and what his actions meant in his time and therefore the significance of those actions for him It also shows how the significance of those actions to him would have been quite different to what those actions have come to signify to us a couple of thousand years later The short version is that Jesus was an apocalyptic Jew and he and his earliest followers believed that they were living at the end of times and that meant their world was about to end and to end immediately When they say things like there are people here who will see me return in glory that was meant to be taken literally Paul believed he would be alive to see the second coming I would think that for these reasons alone the historical Jesus can hardly be seen as identical with the Christian Jesus.Large parts of this book look at our earliest texts of the New Testament and then question whether Jesus and his earliest followers actually believed that he was divine and then if he was divine when did he become divine For John, for example, the last of the gospels to be written, Jesus was with God at the beginning of time as the word that created the universe For the other three Apostles his literal divinity is never quite so well spelt out and if he was divine at all, then he probably became divine after the resurrection.There are fascinating questions asked in this book For example, as Jesus was going to his death was he anxious and upset – as he is depicted in Matthew – or was he pretty well cool, calm and collected as he is depicted in Luke You know, there is a pretty big difference between these two versions of Jesus’ death which can be summed up by what they say his last words on the cross were: either “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me” or “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”The point is that Luke and Matthew were wanting to make very distinct theological points with their tellings of the crucifixion story and they do this by telling very different stories Ehrman makes it clear that how these contradictions are generally resolved is by having Jesus say both of these lines while he was on the cross and for some reason both Luke and Matthew left out the other one, but this does not go nearly far enough to resolve the many, many contradictions in the two stories The problem with this way of resolving contradictions in the Bible is that it creates a new text which is different from both of the texts you are using as your source But the real point here is that this third text you have just created by smashing together the two gospel versions has to be less accurate than either of the gospel versions, notaccurate as we generally assume We confusedly think that the Bible is one book, whereas it is many books telling somewhat similar stories this can make us think that the differences are just differences in detail, whereas some of the differences are much deeper than that.These differences are fundamental and make for quite different ways of looking at Christianity To focus on onethan the other gives quite a different ‘Christianity’ And I would have thought that Christians would be told about the differences that exist in their gospels and the implications of these differences But this is another reason why Ehrman has written this book Although standard Christian scholarship has accepted and studied the contradictions in the Bible for around 150 years and have developed many explanations as to why and how these differences arose – this is virtually never taught either in Church services or (muchsurprisingly) in Bible study classes organised by Churches – despite the fact that this is precisely what ministers are taught in seminary.Ehrman’s passion and depth of knowledge always make me want to spend time reading over passages of the Bible and consider the implications of the various differences and emphasises laid by the various authors of the Bible – if he can do that for an atheist, I would imagine he would only have a much stronger effect on a Christian, at least, I would like to imagine that would be the case But it seems I’m invariably wrong about what interests Christians about their religion This is another excellent book beautifully written.