Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend

Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend

by Bart D Ehrman


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Bart Ehrman, author of the highly popular Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code and Lost Christianities, here takes readers on another engaging tour of the early Christian church, illuminating the lives of three of Jesus' most intriguing followers: Simon Peter, Paul of Tarsus, and Mary Magdalene.
What do the writings of the New Testament tell us about each of these key followers of Christ? What legends have sprung up about them in the centuries after their deaths? Was Paul bow-legged and bald? Was Peter crucified upside down? Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? In this lively work, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, presenting complicated historical issues in a clear and informative way and relating vivid anecdotes culled from the traditions of these three followers. He notes, for instance, that historians are able to say with virtual certainty that Mary, the follower of Jesus, was from the fishing village of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (this is confirmed by her name, Mary Magdalene, reported in numerous independent sources); but there is no evidence to suggest that she was a prostitute (this legend can be traced to a sermon preached by Gregory the Great five centuries after her death), and little reason to think that she was married to Jesus. Similarly, there is no historical evidence for the well-known tale that Peter was crucified upside down. Ehrman also argues that the stories of Paul's miracle working powers as an apostle are legendary accounts that celebrate his importance.
A serious book but vibrantly written and leavened with many colorful stories, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene will appeal to anyone curious about the early Christian church and the lives of these important figures.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195343502
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date: 03/24/2008
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 587,660
Product dimensions: 9.20(w) x 6.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Bart Ehrman chairs the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Grover Gardner was named one of the Best Voices of the Century as well as a Golden Voice by AudioFile magazine, and he has received over twenty AudioFile Earphones Awards. He has also won two coveted Audie Awards, as well as being a three-time finalist.

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Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
NielsenGW on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Ehrman's book gives a rich history of the Early Church and parses through many documents about Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene to give a truer portrait than is popularly conceived. I liked this book a lot because it gave Church history without being overly didactic or intolerant.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This may be my favorite among Ehrman books. It details the legends of three of the most important followers of Jesus in the Bible.Few of the stories told are considered historical; even stories that derive from the Bible are not considered literally true by Ehrman. For example, many of our stories come from the book of Acts, and about a quarter of Acts is made up of speeches by its characters, mostly Peter and Paul. But the speeches all sound about the same; Peter sounds like Paul and Paul sounds like Peter. This may seem a bit odd, given the fact that Peter was an illiterate peasant who spoke Aramaic, whereas Paul was a well-educated, highly astute author raised in a Greek-speaking environment. Ehrman handles these situations with characteristic bluntness: ¿When we examine what Peter is alleged to have preached, we are in effect seeing what different authors imagined him to have said¿which may come down to the same thing as seeing what authors would have wanted him to say.¿Nevertheless, even knowing that nearly all we have about these characters is legend, the legends are fascinating and the book is fun to read. Ehrman takes a shot at unraveling which epistles are written by these three (a few of the Pauline epistles is all) and he dives into a number of second-century non-canonical Christian writings, presenting his findings in three parts: One part for each character. The section on Peter is absolutely fascinating; the section on Paul is argumentative, and not so original (Ehrman¿s usual chip on the shoulder regarding pseudonymous writing makes an appearance); and the section on Mary will leave you bewildered, definitely thinking differently about her and the role of women in early Christianity. Ehrman puts it like this:¿The Christian religion is founded on the belief that Jesus was raised from the dead. And it appears virtually certain that it was Mary Magdalene of all people, an otherwise unknown Galilean Jewish woman of means, who first propounded this belief. It is not at all far fetched to claim that Mary was the founder of Christianity.¿
ncnsstnt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It is bound to happen - the more I read of Mr. Ehrman the more his books start to overlap. This one had some pretty interesting stuff on Peter and Paul that I didn't know, so that was good. The stuff on Mary Magdelene was somewhat informative but mostly speculative. Interesting book and I'm glad I read it but it didn't have the impact on me as the previous books by him that I've read.
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