Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)

Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don't Know About Them)

by Bart D. Ehrman

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The problems with the Bible that New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman discussed in his bestseller Misquoting Jesus—and on The Daily Show with John Stewart, NPR, and Dateline NBC, among others—are expanded upon exponentially in his latest book: Jesus, Interrupted. This New York Times bestseller reveals how books in the Bible were actually forged by later authors, and that the New Testament itself is riddled with contradictory claims about Jesus—information that scholars know… but the general public does not. If you enjoy the work of Elaine Pagels, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and John Shelby Spong, you’ll find much to ponder in Jesus, Interrupted.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061863288
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 125,957
File size: 481 KB

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

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Jesus, Interrupted 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 142 reviews.
Seeker_of_Peace More than 1 year ago
I would like to start this review by addressing some of the previous negative reviews. What I noticed was that some of the reviews that I read were negative, not because of the content of the book, but because of the idea that errors or contradictions in the Bible is too hard of a pill to swallow for a lot of people. Dr. Ehrman has a lot of convincing evidence to make his case, so I think those that gave him a negative review because they have a hard time thinking outside the box of their belief system (or those individuals presenting no rational counter-argument to Dr. Ehrman's claims) is a little unfair. One commenter states that Dr. Ehrman shouldn't interpret that the Bible is full of errors because the differences that are seen in different books of the Bible. This commenter points out that the differences are because of the fact that there are different authors in the Bible with different perspectives. That doesn't make them wrong. An example of this thinking is portrayed as a situation where there is a car accident which is seen by different people at different positions in relationship to the accident. The thought is that even if the different people see the accident and describe what happens differently, that doesn't make the eyewitnesses wrong, it just shows different perspectives. The different view points, however, don't change the fact that an accident happened. This kind of thinking is good for situations where different explanations can co-exist. Here is another: If Mike and Todd are in a room. I can say that: (1)Mike is in the room, (2) Todd is in the room, or (3) Mike and Todd are in the room. None of the statements contradict each other. The problem that Dr. Ehrman points out is: What do you do when there are things you can't reconcile because they do contradict each other? I don't want to give away any examples because those would be spoilers. But the book is full of them. Just bear in mind that there are events in the Bible that cannot coexist because they contradict each other. You will have to read the book to find them out though. I write my review by trying to find evidence of the following: the author is making an argument that there are contradictions in the Bible and I want to know if he makes a strong case for that premise. In my opinion he does and I don't think he does it in a way that is out to destroy the faith of others. I think he is looking at the Bible from a historic and textual criticism point of view and stating the facts as they are laid out. Now what we have to do with this new information is determine what has meaning for us as individuals in terms of faith (and this is a very personal thing). The other thing I get out of the book is this: From my perspective, religion is the only area of life that discourages asking questions or inviting its members to come to new conclusions. Many people are afraid to ask questions or share doubts involving religion or the Bible even though such questioning might lead to greater insight or higher truths. I think that this book frees people to ask those questions.
M_L_Gooch_SPHR More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed Ehrman's work in Misquoting Jesus. As a firm believer, I also enjoy engaging in critical thinking. I have often struggled with Bible study and this book helps me to understand that I am not crazy in my questioning. Jesus, Interrupted expounds on the subject of what the New Testament actually is saying or not saying depending on the page you happen to be on. In addition, the scholarship contained within is not just the view of one man but rather a chorus of modern scholars, theologians and learned men. Some of what the reader will learn - and learn to question - is: . The different views of Jesus presenting in the NT. . The many ways of achieving salvation (which one is correct?) . The forged books of the NT. . The forged letters of Paul. . The different theological view of the gospels. . How the suffering messiah was invented. . Which book should we believe in determining the divinity of Jesus? . Where did the trinity come from? Anyone interested in the Bible should read this book as well as Erhman's other previously mentioned book. Together, they present a compelling account of the construction of our NT and our resulting diverse religious institutions. Now Erhman needs to get to work on the ancient writings of Judaism and Hinduism. If the relatively "new" New Testament is this messed up, just imagine how convoluted these much older holy scripts must be. I hope you find this review helpful Michael L. Gooch - Author of Wingtips with Spurs: Cowboy Wisdom for Today's Business Leaders.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone familiar with biblical textual criticism or with an informed interest in the never-ending debate about who the historical Jesus really was, there is not likely to be any surprises in this book. If you are very informed on the subject, you may be disappointed in how little about the actual debate is included. But if this is a new subject for you and you have interest this book is a good place to begin, not just for Ehrman's accessible writing style, but for his sensitivity to how personal this matter can be. He makes his own postion very clear at the beginning of the book (agnostic), but retains the understanding he first brought to the subject when a believer. I appreciated this openness as it is not always apparent in other writer's until one is into the material. If you have read any of his other books, I think the autobiographical context that form his ongoing interest in this subject and which he shares in the introduction will be familar. The later chapters are spot on when he takes specific care to ensure that his book should not be seen as an attack on Christianity nor on anyone's personal faith but rather be seen as an opportunity to take decades of research on the subject to cast new light on just who Christ may have been. And even more so, how this casts light on the message, or more specifically, messages of the New Testament. Due to the nature of the subject, this book may not be for everyone. But I don't view this as an issue with author or the book, but the inherent challenge that comes from taking a secular look into a very significant religious matter.
JohnSee More than 1 year ago
One of the most impressive parts of this book is the final chapter. Bart argues that it is not necessary to believe the Bible is inerrant to be a Believer in Christ. (Faith is the opposite of certainty.) It was the best argument for faith I have ever heard. I also find it amazing that there are Bible verses that certain Christians don't want to hear. I was reading two Bible verses mentioned in the book to a born again teenager and a Catholic teenager. These teens actually plugged their ears and made noises so they could not hear me quote the Bible. Amazing! They seem to believe only certain parts of the Bible should be heard even though they say it is all true and fully inspired by God. If you feel uncomfortable reading the book you might want to ask yourself why you feel that way. For many the discomfort comes from finding that what you have believed all your life about the certainty of the Bible is not necessarily true. However what that allows you to do is dump certainty for FAITH. You will come out feeling better in the long run. One last thing; this book explains the Bible in a way that now the whole Bible makes sense to me.
WolfAmongSheep More than 1 year ago
In this, Bart Ehrman's most accessible book on historical criticism, the author seeks to divulge to the lay person what seminarians have known for over a century. Namely, the individual books and letters in the Bible were written by many different people, who often take very different perspectives from one another. In this book, Ehrman argues that the perspectives are not only different, but also contradictory. For instance, the gospel of Mark records Jesus suffering to carry his cross and crying out in agony as he dies "separated" from God. According to Luke's account, though, Jesus was cool and collected, thinking more of those around him than himself. The common solution to these different stories is to combine elements from all four gospels into one, thus creating a gospel story entirely unlike any of the canonical books. Ehrman chastises this approach as missing the author's original intentions. The authors of Mark and Luke (both anonymous, by the way) had reasons for showing Jesus in different lights. To ignore the differences is to miss the point of each work. To create our own story with pieces from all of them is to show disrespect to the intentions of the authors, who wrote with particular goals in mind. Ehrman dips into the realm of Christology by studying how different Biblical authors seem to think differently about Jesus. Is he a man who was empowered by God's Spirit, or a complete God who chose to become man? Different authors speak differently on the deity of Jesus, and it was not until centuries after the Bible was written that the Arian controversy forced Constantine and other church leaders to hold a council to reconcile different opinions about the deity of Jesus. Ehrman shows how the different views of Jesus are important to understanding each Biblical work in the way that the author intended. The greatest strength in this work comes in how he rarely forces his own a conclusions upon the reader--as some of his books come dangerously close to doing. If a Christian skipped past Ehrman's preface, then she or he might assume that he is a believer, instead of an agnostic. In this book, he lays out the problems and leaves it for the reader to reconcile. In this, believers and nonbelievers will be able to better understand the Bible without having to swim through a sea of biased opinions. Naturally, Ehrman is biased towards the scholarly extreme, but his treatment of the texts is incredibly fair and reasonable. He makes a few leaps in his conclusions, but overall, I recommend it to anyone interested in a better understanding of the New Testament. (Ehrman's Old Testament examples are weak, as he personally admits, but that is to be expected of a scholar who specializes in the NT.) If pastors have studied at any Biblical seminary of repute, then they will not be surprised by anything that they read in this book--they will agree with most of it, too. If readers have never looked at the New Testament from a historical/literary perspective, then they are in for a ride. This book introduces historical criticism to the lay person in a helpful, but often shocking way I loved reading Jesus Interrupted, and I continue to cite it for quick references to different themes, especially among the gospels. It will always remain in my personal library. Further, for anyone unfamiliar with Bart Ehrman's works, I recommend starting with this one. It is a safe segue into his more controver
Enjay More than 1 year ago
This eminently readable work explores the New Testament, not as a religious document, but from an historicsal perspective. Who were the writers? When did they write? What was the perspective they sought to shed upon the life of Jesus? And perhaps most importantly, who else wrote about the life of Jesus, and why were their works omitted from the New Testament? Ehrman is a fine writer, who examines important theological issues with an easy, graceful prose-style. One criticism: He did not need to take the time to justify his findings in light of his own agnosticism. His scholarship and fundamental honesty were more than manifest.
Guildenstern More than 1 year ago
As Dr. Ehrman points out, the average Christian does not understand what the New Testament actually is. His own roots in evangelical churches provides a sympathetic background for those who still believe in the inerrancy of the Bible. He introduces new words in his writing, but he explains them clearly, or they are clear in context. Those not familiar with what has been known and taught in seminaries for many decades may be very surprised by the information provided here. Those already familiar with this historical-critical approach will find a coherent summary of New Testament scholarship.
tomdurk More than 1 year ago
The author was an evangelist, and decided to go to grad school to study religion. His growth, from religious advocate to accomplished student, makes an engaging history of ideas.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ehrman points out the problems with the bible, mostly in the new testament, but gently and respectfully, he's not doing a Richard Dawkins here but isn't just brushing off inconsistencies with the text either. The book has a personal, almost chatty style so it doesn't read like a textbook but there are spots he doesn't come across very clearly that are confusing. Really interesting though.
RevDrBillyBob More than 1 year ago
I've read five of his books, and this is the best so far. Detractors attack him for not being a True Believer, but so what ? Ehrman USES his frontal lobe instead of discarding it; and let us not forget that he is a former student at Moody Bible Institute and Wheaton, so he received the full Christian Cult Indoctrination Course well before he turned -- instead -- to the world of facts and away from the delusions of faith. No wonder the cultists detest him.
Hawk1CT More than 1 year ago
Absolutely outstanding and historically accurate. As I am a former Christian believer, I found this most helpful and inspiring.
Paul_Swanson More than 1 year ago
It is obvious to the most casual reader that the Gospels don't agree on most things. However, most of us don't go to the trouble to truly analyze the differences or even contrast aned compare the agreeable portions. Here Ehrman does all of that for us in a neat package which is for the most part devoid of bias, it is just the facts type work. Mark says this, Luke says it differently, Matthew says something else again, and so on. Ehrman lays out the items in an order which is easy to digest. Very worthwhile for anyone who is curious about the Christian message and how we are supposed to understand the one who was "Christ". Paul Swanson Retired USN
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been a christian as long as i can remember.. and I remember being frustrated with the bible and how many inconsistencies there were in almost every book... from one book to the next it made no sense. and yet no one would explain it in a satisfactory fashion. After reading his books I realize that the Bible is a collection of disparate stories that can help us understand the nature of early christianity and the beginnings of the church both by what it says and the mistakes that were made... religion is the only discipline where truth seems to be suspended and qestioning is not allowed... He doesn't try to dissuade others from their faith but rather offers on the truth for a person to make of what they will...
ProfM More than 1 year ago
Intriging and very well-written. This is not an anti-Christian polemic. It is excellent historical scholarship.
Simon_Wagstaff More than 1 year ago
As a Quaker I'm interested in learning about how early Christianity was practiced, how the Bible came to include the books it does and how generally accepted ideas or doctrine about who Jesus was, the incarnation, redemption, heaven & hell, and the Apocalypse all came to be regarded as gospel among the prominent religions of our day. Ehrman's book confirmed the history in other books I've been reading concerning these subjects and casts light on how widely accepted dogma came into being. He is an erudite and entertaining writer and a scholar.
Ski-Bray More than 1 year ago
And Interesting Read - I'm not an expert on the Bible, which is why I read this book, although I'd always been interested in the history of the Bible and early Christianity, which a lot of people also aren't very knowledgeable about. Many seem to think the Bible just dropped down from heaven in the form it is today and that the Christian religions of 2000 years ago were the same as today. Ehrman convinced me that he had quite a lot of expertise on the New Testament. I liked his delivery and was impressed with his research. Even though he is a Biblical scholar, I thought he wrote it in terms the layman can understand. He seemed to deliberately "tone down" his scholarly thoughts. It was also written in a way that is not offensive and is respectful to religion (as opposed to some similar books I've read). That there were 30,000 variants found in studies done in the 1700's of only 100 manuscripts pretty much astonished me. How many would there be if every manuscript still in existence were compared? I also hadn't really given much thought to how much the early manuscripts had been copied, copied, copied, copied ... and the degree of forgery. I enjoyed reading this book, although I can see where people who believe that the Bible is inerrant wouldn't like it. My opinion is that everyone who reads the Bible should study its history. He commented at the end of the book (and I don't recall his exact words), but it says something along the lines of, "Can you be a true Christian, yet not completely believe that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired?" I also found it interesting that, even though the author had become an agnostic, he continued to study and teach about the New Testament because, as he says, "The Bible is the most important book in the history of Western civilization." As you can probably tell, I liked the book and thought it was well worth the time reading it.
hammerbro82 More than 1 year ago
This book was quite informative and also engaging to read. While I was vaugely aware of some of the inconsistencies in the Biblical books, I was not aware of why they were that way. Mr. Ehrman does not simply set out to bash Christianity, nor does he end up there. His opinion that we should read each author separately and take their message separately is good advice. By simply assuming that they all say the same thing, we will often miss the point of the work. I had expected a bashing of Christianity and religion, and to have him make mountains out of molehills. He does not do this, and I feel that a better understanding of the Bible in this way will actually strengthen one's faith if they will let it. For someone who has spent a significant amount of time in church, I have to admit feeling somewhat sleighted to discover some of these inconsistencies. I wonder why I have been around such learned men who would tell me the Bible was totally without error. This is one question that the author cannot, and does not attempt to, answer. Though he does pose it himself. I am sure that many fundamentalist Christians will be up in arms about this book. They needen't be. This book does not preach the loss of faith in the Bible, or attempt to interpret things theologically. That is left for the reader or pastor. Mr. Ehrman stresses that what is truly important is not the words in the Bible, but the faith of the believer. This is well-researched, and very even-handed. He also shows us how we can read so as to notice these inconsistencies for ourselves. If you are very fundamentalist, it will help you to keep an open mind. I have referenced this book in college papers with some success.
DeniseQ More than 1 year ago
Bart Ehrman's early training was in fundamentalist Christianity in which the Bible was interpreted as completely literal. Unfortunately, he has never gotten over his early training. He takes a fine tooth comb to Bible to find the slightest discrepancies and uses them to discredit the entire Scripture. I often feel he should walk across campus to his physics department and get a general introduction to quantum mechanics. Nothing can be pinpointed precisely, not even physical matter. Even though life is full of discrepancies and things that we don't understand, it still works pretty well. I got frustrated with his tone as I read through the book. I feel he comes to his scholarship with a predetermined agenda to undermine the Bible and he is gleeful when he feels he has done it. I've read several of his books and he repeats the same theme over and over. I've resolved not to bother reading any of his future books.
DonVG More than 1 year ago
This book is a very good reason why there should be separation between church and state. I felt that it showed how religion has been used by all people to further their own agendas. This seems to have been the case from Biblical times until the present. The fact that multiple versions are given for certain events and the possible reasons for each version are detailed in this book. I found it a good extension of his prior books and well done.
DannyD47 More than 1 year ago
Professor Ehrman hit another home run with this book. If you are interested in knowing the truth about what the Bible actually says, this is a must read for you. If on the other hand you prefer to keep your head buried in the sand, you will not like this offering. This book is definitely for those that live in the real world not in a delusion one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fascinating look at the stories of the New Testament. Fair and balanced.
Gregor1066 More than 1 year ago
This is a very good book for those interested in the complexities of the Bible and its history. His discussions of the numerous versions of the same story and the possibilities of the reasons for the differences are very interesting. Having read numerous books on ancient history as well as medieval history, it is difficult not to become somewhat involved in the study of religion. I have found the histroy of Christianity to be very interesting and realize that what Yeshua said is not quite what is practiced in todays cultures. The complications of translation from Greek to Latin was just one of the factors that has lead Christianity to the religion it is today. As stated in the book, it has gone from a religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. I have read other of Mr. Ehrman's books and have listened to his lectures and am continually impressed with the information he provides. Although some will disagree, I have found him to be pretty much level in his analysis and does not say things are absolute, but just possibilities. This is a good book and a Lightening Rod for those that may find it challenges their faith. It has not challenged my beliefs in any way.
featherfoot55 More than 1 year ago
I found the book interesting and informative and intriguing to say the least - controversial at times, entertaining in its mystery always.
Woody68 More than 1 year ago
B.D. Ehrman, Is very honest and mater o factly in his writing of this book. The Bible was written by humans, looking for answers to questions they had no idea what the answers were, so they created a religion around a real man that came from somewhere other than earth.I have felt this throughout my life. Read this book with an open mind!
Snorkeler More than 1 year ago
Bart Ehrman, acknowledged New Testament scholar, has invited us to see the hidden contradictions in the Bible and why we don't know about them. For the first 99 pages, we do so. He gets us into the world of the historical critical approach to the Bible and recommends horizontal reading which is a very helpful technique for this and other texts. While the invitation is to see the contradictions in the Bible, Ehrman quickly states his New Testament focus, "But you can rest assured that very much the same problems can be found in the Old Testament as well - in fact, even more so." (19-20) As we read further we find Ehrman saying, "This is not an exhaustive treatment of the discrepancies, just a representative sample."(59) And again "I've tried to cover some of the interesting "large" discrepancies." (99) What then fills the last almost 200 pages? There we find "Who Wrote the Bible?", "Liar, Lunatic or Lord? Finding the Historical Jesus", "How We Got the Bible", "Who Invented Christianity?" and "Is Faith Possible?" Is the last 2/3 of the book related to the promise of the title and first 100 pages? That can be a general assumption. Are there specific connections drawn? That's an issue. Following Ehrman style of addressing a "representative sample", let's look at his chapter on "Liar, Lunatic or Lord (C. S. Lewis' words) Finding the Historical Jesus." After getting us into early sources, oral tradition and establishing criteria for accepting historical material, Ehrman sets his focus which is to state several times Jesus has to be understood apocalyptically. Note the repetition - "Jesus as a Jewish apocalyptic prophet" (156), "understanding Jesus as an apocalyptic prophet" (162), "Jesus was an apocalypticist" (163), "his apocalyptic message" (166) - are you getting the message? "Jesus, in short, taught that the Son of Man was soon to arrive from the heavens in judgment, and people needed to be ready for it by mending their ways and living as God wanted them to." (160) Ehrman claims to have said nothing new or unusual in that chapter. These are the views of Jesus he learned in seminary (does he mean Moody Bible Institute, Wheaton College or Princeton Theological Seminary?) and are held by the majority of scholars in North America and Europe and have been for something like a century. But there's an interesting superscript at that point. In the Notes we learn "Outstanding exceptions are the publications by the Jesus Seminar and several of its members...Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan." Is Ehrman's view of Jesus, therefore, pre-Jesus Seminar and in contradiction to the Jesus Seminar? Ehrman's writing is accessible to lay people. It moves, is flip at times, is sound theologically at times, and even from his present agnostic state, is firmly tied to his early Biblical schooling.