Monday, August 8, 2011

What is Your Favorite Bart Ehrman Book?

A reader asked me which book influenced me the most when writing Saint Peter Killed God. That’s a difficult question. Was she asking about what book on writing helped the most? Or which fiction book? She asked me if I had read a book by Pagels so I knew she was talking about non-fiction books about religion. Historical Jesus, that sort of thing.

Still, it’s is impossible to say where my ideas come from specifically. I can’t point to one book and say, “I got inspired here.” But when it comes to Christian history, Bart Ehrman is my favorite author. He writes in such a way that I feel like I’m just listening to him speaking. His writing is very accessible even when he starts talking about the complex. There are some weakness to reading so many books by one author because he repeats himself here and there. Like he might talk about reading the Bible ‘horizontally” vs. “vertically.” It’s a good point and he uses different examples in each book. Although I like what he says though, I haven’t yet tried it. Well, here are my Ehrman favorites:
Lost Christianities: The Battl...
1. Early Christianities – I find it fascinating that there were about a half dozen different types of Christianities that sprouted up and only one survived. Ehrman does an excellent job of not only explaining what each gr oup believed, but he also mentions which gospels they primarily read and why they lost out to the orthodox beliefs that Christians have today.

God's Problem: How the Bible F... 2. The God Problem – I saw Ehrman interviewed on the Cobert Report for this book. Stephen asked him, “Isn’t an agnostic just an atheist without balls?” Ehrman took a second. I almost felt sorry for him, but he came up with a witty response (to bad I forgot what it was). Anyway, this book goes into what the Bible says about suffering, which surprised me (even though I was familiar with it). Much of it contradicted itself and most of it is unsatisfying. What I really like about this book is Ehrman is willing to say that he just can’t be a Christian anymore. Some many writers of Biblical History / Historical Jesus bend over backwards to rationalize Christianity.
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Be...
3. Misquoting Jesus – This was the first book by Ehrman that I read. Yes, I knew when the printing press was invented, so it makes sense that the Bible was originally copied. Ehrman explains the problems with this and shows how the early copies were possibly manipulated and why.
The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot: A New Look at Betrayer & Betrayed
4. Judas Iscariot – I didn’t think this book would be too interesting when I picked it up, but I was surprised. It is a wonder that as much of the manuscript survived as it did. Ehrman tells us what is in it and why. Entertaining.
The New Testament: A Historica...
5. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to Early Christian Writings – Yes, this is sad. I liked Bart Ehram’s books so much that I bought his textbook for his class. One problem – much of what he writes here is repeated elsewhere and it is a textbook. Still, I think it’s good.
Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible & Why We Don't Know About Them
6. Jesus, Interrupted – This is probably a good place to start. However, I felt like much of it was stuff I already knew and repeated elsewhere. Maybe it was a book I should have read instead of his textbook.
Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene:...
7. Peter, Paul, and Mary – this book will make the top five eventually, but I’ve just started it and unfortunately I don’t have it with me so it might take a while to finish it. I’ve read enough of it to know that I like it as it got me thinking about how Peter is portrayed. I haven’t gotten to Paul or Mary yet so I feel like I shouldn’t even include this book on my list.

Have you read any books by Bart Ehrman? Which are your favorites? Do you disagree with my list? Which ones would you suggest that I read?

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