"It made me wonder about the type of Jesus we have today, and if most of us that answer “yes” to Ehrman’s question, in actuality, don’t have a clue of what we’re saying “yes” to."
by Bart D. Ehrman
368 pages. HarperCollins. $26.99.
Fundamentalists and Atheists, Agnostics, and Richard Dawkins should take note that, yes, Ehrman argues for the historical existence of Jesus. Yet he’s not doing it in proselytizing way, or even in an attempt to say that his life theologically means anything.
Rather, Ehrman answers and challenges the mythicist view which claims that no historical Jesus existed. Ehrman provides a survey of the varying views, and responds to their critiques. For many, this will be the first time they are able to hear about “M,” “Q,” “L,” and other sources for Biblical literature.
Did Jesus Exist? is no different. Ehrman says, “...the public has a right to know what scholars have discovered after spending countless hours, days, months, and years grappling with the hard issues…My popular books are meant for laypeople…” (69-70).
And this, in the middle of Lent and in a country shedding Christian privilege, is what makes this book so important: the public. Ehrman writes not to engage only the academy, but the larger public sphere. Page after page I flipped, discovering Ehrman, while explicitly answering mythicist claims and Jesus’s existence, engages implicitly those that have used Jesus as a battering ram against people or a fundraising tool.
“Yes!,” Ehrman seems to scream, “Jesus did exist, but the kind of Jesus you think existed is only a proof texted, self-interested, and wayward interpretation.” My words, not his.
When we look into the political sphere we find politicians readily use Jesus to garner votes. Rick Santorum has gained the support of conservative evangelicals because it appears that he has more “Jesus” than Mitt Romney.
Reading Ehrman’s work will open eyes to the ways of viewing Jesus, but also help us to see that the Jesus we have now, isn’t the Jesus that “was.” Ehrman answers affirmatively to the question of Jesus’s existence, and leaves it to the reader to figure out what that means. Whether a mythicist or fundamentalist, reading this will provide a deeper dimension of understanding to the significance of the question, “Did Jesus Exist?”
So, I read Did Jesus Exist? on my Lenten journey, and it made me walk differently. It didn’t increase my fervor for the one to die on the Cross, and didn’t make me stand on the rooftop declaring that, “See! Even the agnostic agrees!” It made me wonder about the type of Jesus we have today, and if most of us that answer “yes” to Ehrman’s question, in actuality, don’t have a clue of what we’re saying “yes” to.
This review was written for TLC Book Tours. TLC is a virtual book tour site. Find the entire Did Jesus Exist? review tour schedule here. Virtual book tours are a promotional tool for authors to connect with readers via well-read book blogs and specialty blogs.
This is part of the blog-book tour. The other stops are….
Tuesday, March 20th: Shuck and Jive
Monday, March 26th: Broken Teepee
Tuesday, March 27th: Homebrewed Christian
Wednesday, March 28th: Jeff Keuss
Thursday, March 29th: Life is Short. Read Fast.
Tuesday, April 3rd: Crazy Liberals … and Conservatives
Wednesday, April 4th: The Liberal Spirit
Thursday, April 5th: Greg Laden’s Blog
Friday, April 6th: Butterflies and Wheels
Tuesday, April 10th: Fallen From Grace
Wednesday, April 11th: The Gods Are Bored
TBD: The X Blog
TBD: Richard Carrier Blogs
TBD: Exploring Our Matrix