Were the Stories of Jesus Radically Changed Before They Were Written Down? My Review of Bart Ehrman’s Latest

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If one accepts the dating of some modern scholars, the earliest canonical gospel–the Gospel of Mark–was not written until 70 AD or later.

This means there was a gap of time of about 40 years between the life of Jesus and our earliest Gospel that records his words and deeds.

What happened to the stories of Jesus during this period of time? Since such stories were largely passed down orally, can this process be trusted? Did Christians change the stories along the way? Is it reasonable to think that Christians could have even remembered the details accurately?

These are the questions raised in Jesus Before the Gospels, Bart Ehrman’s latest Easter-timed …

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Did Papias Know the Apostle John?

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I just received in the mail the latest issue of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society.  And I noticed that it contained my review of Monte Shanks’ recent volume, Papias and the New Testament (Pickwick, 2013). (I can’t keep track of when my book reviews appear!).

Seeing this review reminded me of one of the key debates in discussions of the emerging New Testament canon, namely whether Papias, the bishop of Hierapolis in the early second century, knew the apostle John.  This is a key question simply because Papias provides one of the earliest explicit references to the gospels of Mark and Matthew.

So, where did Papias get …

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Two Very Different Books on the Reliability of the Gospels

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I have just finished reading Bart Ehrman’s Jesus Before the Gospels: How the Earliest Christians Remembered, Changed, and Invented Their Stories of the Savior (HarperOne, 2016), and Brian Pitre’s The Case for Jesus: The Biblical and Historical Evidence for Christ (Image, 2016).

And I can’t imagine two books about Jesus more different from one another.

Not surprisingly, in his new volume (released again right before Easter!) Ehrman continues his life-long campaign to attack the reliability of the canonical gospels and to raise doubts about their authorship and origins.  Time and time again he asserts that the gospels were late, anonymous productions, written by authors with no connections to the historical …

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Was the Divinity of Jesus a Late Invention of the Council of Nicea? Probing Into What the Earliest Christians Really Believed

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One of the most common objections to Christianity is that the divinity of Jesus was “created” by later Christians long after the first century.  No one in primitive Christianity believed Jesus was divine, we are told.  He was just a man and it was later believers, at the council of Nicea, that declared him to be a God.

A classic example of this in popular literature can be found in the book The Da Vinci Code:

“My dear,” Teabing declared, “until that moment in history [council of Nicea], Jesus was viewed by His followers as a mortal prophet… a great and powerful man, but a man nonetheless. A mortal.”

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