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.
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About the Author
Bart D. Ehrman is one of the most renowned and controversial Bible scholars in the world today. He is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestsellers How Jesus Became God; Misquoting Jesus; God’s Problem; Jesus, Interrupted; and Forged. He has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, History, and top NPR programs, as well as been featured in TIME, the New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, and other publications. He lives in Durham, North Carolina. Visit the author online at www.bartdehrman.com.
Table of Contents
1 Divine Humans in Ancient Greece and Rome 11
2 Divine Humans in Ancient Judaism 47
3 Did Jesus Think He Was God? 85
4 The Resurrection of Jesus: What We Cannot Know 129
5 The Resurrection of Jesus: What We Can Know 171
6 The Beginning of Christology: Christ as Exalted to Heaven 211
7 Jesus as God on Earth: Early Incarnation Christologies 247
8 After the New Testament: Christological Dead Ends of the Second and Third Centuries 283
9 Ortho-Paradoxes on the Road to Nicea 323
Epilogue: Jesus as God: The Aftermath 353
Scripture Index 387
Subject and Author Index 391