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Book review: Did Jesus Exist?, by Bart D. Ehrman

I've previously reviewed several books which claim that Jesus did not exist but was a mythical figure (Deconstructing Jesus and The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man, by Robert M. Price; The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty; The Jesus Mysteries, by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy).

Only one of these authors (Price) is a professional scholar in New Testament studies. The great majority of scholars don't take the 'mythicist' position seriously or discuss it in any detail. Ehrman thinks that this is a mistake, because the mythicists' claims attract attention from non-specialist readers. In this book, therefore, he considers the arguments in some detail. At least some of the mythicists do deserve to be taken seriously, he believes, although the more sensationalist representatives of the genre do not; the afore-mentioned Freke and Gandy are in that category. [More]

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John L Floyd on :

If you accept that there was a "Jesus", a larger question is "did Jesus believe he was God?" and from that did his contemporary followers believe he was God, or did the assignment of his virgin birth and divinity take place much later. There may be more controversy over this issue than the question of his existence, be it human or divine.

Anthony Campbell on :

I'm sure that Jesus was a historical figure, and am equally sure that he didn't think he was God. He was an apocalypticist who believed he was going to be the ruler of the coming Kingdom of God.

The belief in his divinity did begin early but what they understood by this was different from how we understand the idea today. On this, see Bart D. Ehrman's recent book "How Jesus Became God" (review on my site) and also my reviews of books by Paula Fredriksen and E.P Sanders.

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