Bart Ehrman has become one of my favorite writers in recent years.
He has been able to get serious biblical scholarship onto the New York Times bestsellers list and has given us progressive Christians a shot against the Left Behind/ Purpose Driven/Shacks. Here is a recent article about Ehrman on Salon.com.
I have only been able to read the first chapter so far of Ehrman’s newest book, Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (And Why We Don’t Know About Them). So here are some of the main points of the book (from the website):
- The authors of the New Testament have diverging views about who Jesus was and how salvation works
- The New Testament contains books that were forged in the names of the apostles by Christian writers who lived decades later
- Jesus, Paul, Matthew, and John all represented fundamentally different religion
- Established Christian doctrines—such as the suffering messiah, the divinity of Jesus, and the trinity—were the inventions of still later theologians
Its not as Ehrman is making this stuff up as this is the conclusion of 200+ years of biblical scholarship. It is taught in our seminaries but is almost never taught in the churches.
Ehrman writes that it isn’t a bad thing to read the bible in the traditional devotional approach but lets not ignore the historical-critical approach either. What would be so bad for Christians …
.. to believe that the Bible was “a human book from beginning to end. It was written by different human authors at different times and in different places to address different needs. Many of these authors no doubt felt they were inspired by God to say what they did, but they had their own perspectives, their own beliefs, their own views, their own understandings, their own theologies … Mark did not say the same thing that Luke said because he did not mean the same thing as Luke.”