I think my beef is with one of Ehrman’s views. People are of course free to believe that Jesus did perform miracles, and it’s possible that he did; but that is a theological belief and not a historical one. He notes the various laws constricting public sacrifice and worship by pagans and the orders for the closure of temples. I find it rather deceitful on his part. Does Ehrman cite this in his book? That “doctrinal statement” can be found HERE and includes the “authority and inerrancy of Scripture” as one of its seven key tenets. It’s not bad, though she overstates her case. Ehrman has said, I think, that if he were put in a room with Metzger they would probably agree on the text of the NT everywhere but a dozen places. That’s not what I want to deal with. Of course Ehrman knows that isnt actually true but that is the clear impression he has given to his readers, most of whom know little or nothing about the subject. But don’t tackle this erudite volume in search of cloud-splitting fireworks — either of the divine-intervention or 1950s Cinemascope sort. The analysis here is central to this topic because it tends to drive two ideas central to the issue of the conversion. I was silent because I gave my word to be, even if it would hurt my reputation.”, “One of the lessons my wife and I drilled into our four sons was that their integrity would be in question unless there were times when being honest hurt them. Francis of Assisi is said to have traced corruption in the Church back to Constantine’s conversion and even no less a champion of papal authority as Bernard of Clairvaux expressed grave reservations about the impact of the (alleged) “Donation of Constantine” that was thought to have transferred authority over the western Europe to the Popes. Personally, I don’t quite agree and think “divine” is not a useful way to describe Paul’s pre-existent Jesus. Suppose that he resurrected 50 random people from the local morgue, all of whom had been declared dead on different occasions by different doctors and all of whom had death certificates and autopsy reports. How did a frightened rabble of Jews in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire produce a religion that endured Imperial persecution while slowly transforming the Empire from within before going on to produce the world’s largest – and still fastest growing – religion? I give it a 5 star rating, and I rate very few books that high. Rodney Stark is a name I kept hearing being tossed around, both in print and in speech. It's accessible and direct and gives a succinct account of world history in the Western world through a sociological lens. Oh, hang on …, “However, I see from some of the other posts that what you have is the liberal, re-gurgitated and discredited Jesus Seminar approach.”. In particular he presents a much more positive understanding of the crusades, maintains that the "Dark Ages" were "one of the most inventive times in, A well researched and thoroughly documented survey of the growth of Christianity from a small band of Jesus followers to a religion that now makes up more than 40 % of the people on earth today and "growing more rapidly than that of any other major faith." It didn’t take me long to realize that the “so called” facts that were presented were skewed. Your email address will not be published. In a debate with Bart D. Ehrman, Wallace reported that a fragment of Mark’s gospel, dated to the first century, had been discovered. This is one of the most interesting books I have ever read. The main reason I responded to this post was that you dismiss the duality of Bart based on “apologists” and “fundamentalists” assertion that he was contradictory, without them providing evidence of their claims. “we don’t have the original copy that Mark made.” this is an affirmative claim by a scholar, and by itself, is perfectly fine given that fact that all spectrums of NT scholars agree with this. Anyway thanks for all the great work on this site. 130 years after the original.”. In. An over-reliance on any generation of scholarship will distort teh evidence and it does here. 1) Jesus lived on a certain date before he was crucified. I have linked to your two blog articles on the references to Jesus in Tacitus and Josephus for atheists to see. For if one affirms that one does not have the original, then no one can not logically deduce what number copy a copy happens to be… Ehrman affirms that the copy of Mark is from about 200 AD, and about 130 years from the original. http://www.giornopaganomemoria.it/theodosian1610.html. For example, he notes that while Julian’s prescription against Christians teaching the pagan classics to schoolboys seems relatively benign, it was actually a very clever stratagem, pointing out it meant “no longer could Christians teach the principal subjects of instruction …. Show us this “small number of cruel executions of pagans” and produce evidence that makes it “clear that people were terrorized” by them. I've returned the book, so I don't have an example at hand, but I know that I winced through the ancient period with Stark. A similar example is the historical analysis of the claim that Aristoteles used mirror to set Roman ships on fire. How did a frightened rabble of Jews in an obscure corner of the Roman Empire produce a religion that endured Imperial persecution while slowly transforming the Empire from within before going on to produce the world’s largest – and still fastest growing – religion? The first-century Mark situation was recently covered extensively on Bart Ehrman’s blog. While I am sorry for publicly announcing inaccurate facts, at no time in the public statements (either in the debate or on my blogsite) did I knowingly do this. Now I do agree that it wouldn’t be “historical analysis” to say since historical analysis suggests claims 1,2, and 3 are true, *therefore it must be a miracle. The number of people who have theistic religious beliefs is much greater than the number who are members of a church or attend church services. Calling someone a “discredited fundie” is proof enough to me that you are biased. An absolute must-read for every modern Christian! On the issue of his continued use of pagan iconography, Ehrman notes that Constantine’s conception of who exactly his god was seems to have evolved from a “henotheistic” focus on Sol Invictus to an understanding that Sol and Jesus were the same deity and finally to a more orthodox Christian theology. But Christianity was different, thanks to the critical distinction between “adhesion” and “conversion”. Hence. And I would think a New Testament Scholar would hold more weight in his assessment of another scholar than simply a fundi or apologist. Seriously. Positive and encouraging. That and the fact that 2nd temple Jews would ‘never’ have seen Baal worship and Babylonian paganism in a positive light. Check out this great listen on Audible.ca. There are excellent Christian scholars out there but people like Wallace are not among them. There is a danger in making out that the breadth of Christian charity was utterly unique, as this kind of thing spills over into Christian apologetics rather too easily and early Christianity was far more of its time and culture than it was distinct from it. Take it or leave it. Killing some pagans in Anatolia had zero impact in Brittannia. Everyone in the audience know all about these discrepancies: what they are, how they have been interpreted over the years, how various scholars (and non-scholars) have tried to reconcile them, how they affect the interpretation of each of the books, how they affect one’s view of Scripture, how they relate to the historical reliability of the sources, and so on and on and on. In his latest book Ehrman tackles the question of how an obscure Jewish sect came to conquer the Roman Empire and dominate the western world. I mean academic careers get severely damaged by things like that “first century Mark” bungle. | Scientific Christians Thoughts, Jesus Mythicism 7: Josephus, Jesus and the ‘Testimonium Flavianum’. The Triumph of Christianity How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World (Book) : Ehrman, Bart D. : "[The author] shows how a religion whose first believers were twenty or so illiterate day laborers in a remote part of the empire became the official religion of Rome, converting some thirty million people in just four centuries"--Amazon.com. If the Bible were really the Word of God, and God wanted people to read it, one would think he would have bothered to ensure that it was transmitted accurately to future generations. Frank And what the hell has “peer review” got to do with this? Rather, as far as I understand it (though I might be misunderstanding), his argument is simply that a historian qua historian cannot conclude that the historical evidence establishes that a miracle occurred. As a Christian I want the same thing. So miracles seem to have this odd place as being both the most irrational and most rational reason to believe at the same time! He left Berkeley to become Professor of Sociology and of Compa. Wallace also goes on to say he is of the opinion, with reason, that Ehrman has become increasingly “hyper skeptical ” regarding the ability to ascertain what the original new testament manuscripts said, because, of the “embarrassment of riches” of ancient and midevil new testament manuscripts available. Thanks for this review Tim. “‘Some miracle claims stand up better under historical analysis than others.’ I probably learned more about the early church from Ehrman than any other historian and I am very grateful for his work. And nowhere did I say anyone was an “extremist”. But I’m afraid I don’t buy it. Suppose that a team of scientists carbon-dated his flesh and clothing to the first century AD, and that he was interviewed by linguists who concluded that he spoke perfect first-century Aramaic. As for whether the possibility that a miracle happened is “vanishingly small,” I think reasonable people can hold that view. The Triumph of Christianity combines deep knowledge and meticulous research in an eye-opening narrative that upends the way we think about the single most important cultural transformation our world has ever seen - one that revolutionized art, music, literature, philosophy, ethics, economics, and law. I believe this is an excellent book. Roger Bagnall has used another approach via onomastics, or the study of personal names. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if that is a “philosophical” or a “historical” call. What are my “biases”? Suppose that historians had available to them all of the relevant scientific reports, notes and observations, as well as the TV footage and the reports of thousands of eyewitnesses. But how well the argument works is clearly a religious dispute that would analyze religious beliefs. A scholar who critiques himself is evidence of hard scrutiny? They both make it a priority to inform the reader that most of his or her assumptions about long-accepted aspects of history are wrong. “For example, look at most modern dictatorships.” But by the late third century, Christianity had split off from Judaism, and attracted enough followers that the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, felt it threatened the stability of the state and vigorously persecuted it. A polytheist acknowledged and sometimes worshipped all kinds of gods. I don’t know if Mr. Ra is the dishonest narcissist that Carrier is but I wondering if I am detecting a serious egotism problem in the Myther community. One only needs to listen to him speak in his own words to realize that he contradicts himself and puts forth incoherent assertions . What is utterly fascinating about this book is just how much of the way we tell our history is conditioned by Enlightenment thinking. Most of the variations are minor, but some are not and a few are substantial and/or highly significant. And would the same God inspire both writings etc? However, I happen to know from where it came from, and Wallace is not an “apologist” or a “fundie”, but a scholar of equal to or superior to Ehrman. But then we properly understand our rejection is despite the historical evidence not because of it. Ultimately, Christianity was always going to win the demographic war eventually. I certainly accept that can happen and admit there are reasonable philosophical grounds to reject religion. Your non scholarly dismissal of dual Bart is as equally weak and prejudice as a non scholarly assertions that he is. The key point here is that both the military officer class and the equestrians were mostly pagans. Even more regrettable, I have not been able to reveal the papyrologist’s uncertainty until now.”, “Further, I did not know that FCM was dated to the second/third century until I saw Elijah Hixson’s blog. And I said actually “as a historian” I can’t accept that, and here is why: There is only one God and that is the Christian God and the Christian God is not in the business of performing miracles for Muhamad. That’s the stupidest comment I’ve read all week. Unsurprisingly, Hurtado agrees with Holland on this point, though is careful to note that his book is not really an analysis of what made Christianity attractive, per se, but rather what he feels made it distinctive. For the latter he is all too often reviled, scorned and rejected. The Triumph of Christianity: How the Jesus Movement Became the World's Largest Religion eBook: Stark, Rodney: Amazon.in: Kindle Store It is an important book in that it gives lots of good and useful information. No Jarrod you are factually wrong. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Craig is a miserable sophist of the worst kind. The author disputed nearly all historical research that didn’t agree with his opinion. Or the Church's insistence to suppress knowledge? Required fields are marked *. And it did it twice!”, “IN 1710, THE ENGLISH FREETHINKER Thomas Woolston (1670–1731) expressed his confidence that religion would vanish by 1900.1 Voltaire (1695–1778) thought this much too pessimistic and predicted that religion would be gone from the Western world within the next fifty years—by about 1810.”, http://www.worldcat.org/wcidentities/lccn-n79-3359. Are you under the impression that Christianity has nothing original in it, that it’s all “borrowed” from earlier pagan myths? Unsurprisingly, Ehrman does not fall into the trap of Christian apologism and its attendant denigration of the Classical world found in some of the work of people like Rodney Stark or David Bentley Hart. The Triumph of Christianity How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World (eBook) : Ehrman, Bart D. : Christianity didn't have to become the dominant religion in the west. Ehrman is also probably quite correct in his notes on the iconography of Constantine’s early coinage, but it should also be noted that coins are notoriously conservative in their imagery and inscriptions. So in that sense it felt like a Stark compendium rather than a new book. This seems to have been because there was far less need for organised and concerted preaching within the Empire, due to the way networks of patronage, community and family worked in late Roman society. But the next article in my Jesus Mythicism series is on the “No Contemporary References to Jesus” argument, because that is far more common among online Mythers. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Scholarly books don’t sell, but popular books written by the “authority” of a scholar do sell. What I do is cater my message to the audience, whatever the audience is. I lost track of the number of times the author pointed out a particular event or period and said the prevailing narrative comes from Gibbon's "Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" or a philosopher like Voltaire. If you read any of Ehrman’s popular books, you are being given the message that the New Testament as we have it today, including the actions and teaching of Jesus, is very unreliable. Review – Bart D. Ehrman “The Triumph of Christianity, Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window), Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window). Full of sweeping generalizations, cherry-picked arguments that confirm his reading of history, and nearly every historian or sociologist the author writes about is "wrong." (Perhaps if space allows you could also comment on the debate between Carrier and Thom Stark about the Targum of Jonathan – I mentioned that on Bart Ehrman’s blog recently. “Your comment makes no sense. Thanks for this excellent article and blog generally. As a historian, I do not think the Christianization of the Roman Empire was inevitable and I do not celebrate it either as a victory for the human race and a sign of cultural progress on one hand, or a major sociopolitical set-back and cultural disaster on the other. As his military and political success continued, he continued to attribute it to the favour of this god. Sorting that out is not the historian’s trade, I agree. This was the kind of Empire that Constantine inherited. As for his theology, this is basically the gist of his rhetoric, “God doesn’t exist because there is no evidence. Carrier claims: “Ehrman has now completely reversed a position he took against me in Did Jesus Exist (as is well known, I published a detailed critique of that awful book). This book gave me a lot to think about, and I've been talking about it for days. So I am lead to believe there really are two Ehrman’s. This scepticism about the sincerity and even the authenticity of Constantine’s conversion and the questioning of his motives is at least in part due to a modern difficulty in grasping ancient approaches to belief, though it is also further evidence of how atheism in the English-speaking world is firmly rooted in stolidly Protestant views of history. Now, that can definitely be misleading. Ehrman does know that to be true because it is and all critical textual scholars agree with him. His newest book, The Triumph of Christianity, traces the path taken by the underdog of religions to its apogee as imperator of Europe and Western civilization, the latter of which ultimately owes a great deal, culturally, politically and ethically, to that victory. I seem to recall Taleb’s political sympathies in his home country of Lebanon aligns with the more extreme Lebanese Christian factions who believe their identity to be separate from the Arabs and closer to the Phoenicians, which may explain his recent fascination with haplogroups. Which is hardly surprising given the very strong similarities between Christianity and Islam (and I expect that like many American Christians; your eyes might be combusting in the face of such heresy). Their debates are freely available, I have watched them all and therefore a witness. I suspect that is the real issue the fundamentalists have with him. I’m very much looking forward to the Ascension of Isaiah post. So it seems rather sloppy to then conclude it was the “murder of a pagan philosopher at the hands of a Christian mob” (p. 265) when it is clear from the evidence and even from Ehrman’s own account that paganism, philosophy and Christianity actually had very little to do with this political tit-for-tat assassination. But then completely seperate from these religious or philosophical reasons there very well may be a historical analysis of the claimed event. Similarly, I think people should respect Ehrman as a top scholar working in his field. This preeminent authority was not an evangelical Christian, either. The Jesus Seminar is a silly organisation which wishes to shoehorn Jesus into their own expectations, rather than study who the historical Jesus ‘really’ was. https://trueandreasonable.co/2014/05/29/ehrman-and-the-historicity-of-miracles/. For a final flourish, suppose that Jesus turned a tank of water into wine, and that this was broadcast live on TV, witnessed by an audience of thousands, and independently confirmed by spectrographic analysis of the liquid before and after. Ehrman describes how the idea for “The Triumph of Christianity” first came to him 20 years ago during his first trip to Athens while visiting the site of the ancient Agora and the Acropolis. Unless of course you actually have some evidence that this is, indeed, what happened. Yes, and that would be correct. At best it took months before the news got there. No more please gentlemen. My religious argument might work for some Christians it might not work for others. You, unlike Ehrman, seem to openly admit you are adding certain philosophical beliefs to the criteria. But if religion or philosophy is what leads you to reject 2 or 3 then you shouldn’t say it is historical analysis. It’s not an obscure incident. For the sake of the argument I am willing to concede that miracles can and do happen. In The Triumph of Christianity, acclaimed religious and social historian Rodney Stark explains how an obscure Jewish sect became the largest, most thriving religion in the world. doesn’t make any sense to me Historical analysis can’t go any further than ‘people believed that a miracle happened’.”. Listen to The Triumph of Christianity by Rodney Stark. For example, he argues that the appeal of Christianity was such that it would have become the dominant religion of Europe even if Emperor Constantine had not adopted it. Please stop repeating this fundamentalist Christian apologist lie. But I think we are just muddying the word “history” with semantic games in order to serve our philosophical biases. His understanding of this deity also seems to have evolved and then grown in theological sophistication as leading Christians sought to shape his faith, but ultimately the first Christian emperor remained an old soldier who repaid victory on the battlefield with devotion to a deity. I’ve also heard it argued that Tacitus was just reaching for a polemic to use against the Christians be hated so much. Ehrman devotes a substantial portion of his book (and a detailed appendix) to the crucial question of how Christianity went from a tiny Jewish sect of perhaps a few dozen adherents to a major religion of millions that dominated the Roman Empire in just four centuries. I would say that miracles are really the blessing and the curse of Christianity. 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