Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jesus, Interrupted

I just finished reading Bart Ehrman's Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible. I had read (and liked) Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why a few years ago, so when his latest book popped up on my Kindle, it was oh-so-easy to click "buy"!

In Jesus, Interrupted, Ehrman considers the Bible from a historical-critical perspective (rather than a devotional approach). He considers questions such as: What do the writings mean in their original historical context? Who were the actual authors? (Hint: not whom you might think!) Those authors lived in their unique time and place with a particular set of cultural and religious assumptions. What were they trying to say?

Ehrman details how the Bible is filled with discrepancies, many small but some quite significant. For example, a side-by-side comparison of the four gospels reveals irreconcilable differences in the accounts of Jesus' birth, baptism, and resurrection. (This was not news to me. Many years back--probably 10 or 15?--I decided to read the entire Bible from beginning to end and found such differences myself.) Ehrman asserts that if one tries to reconcile the discrepancies between various books (or even within the individual books), one will miss the larger theological point of the author.

Jesus, Interrupted also considers topics such as what can be known about the historical Jesus and how the 27 canonical books of the New Testament were chosen over the many other letters, Acts, and gospels that existed. I found of particular interest how the religion of Jesus became a religion about Jesus -- and unfortunately anti-Semitic along the way.

People who base their faith on the Bible being inerrant and written-by-the-hand-of-God will likely be threatened by this book. But I have a hunch many of those people wouldn't consider reading it anyway. I think people who would particulary benefit from reading Jesus, Interrupted are those who have dismissed the Bible as being misogynistic, homophobic, and ultimately irrelevant. I think Ehrman, by putting things into the proper perspective, just may help salvage the Bible for them.

13 comments:

dust bunny said...

I need to read this one. Thanks, BB.

David said...

You're ready to watch Stephen Colbert interview Ehrman about Jesus Interrupted then :)

http://www.hulu.com/watch/67306/the-colbert-report-bart-ehrman

Barbara B. said...

Oh cool! Thanks! I didn't know he was on there -- I'll check it out!

Presbyterian Gal said...

Yeah, this sounds like a must read to me too! Thanks.

Processing Counselor said...

I'll have to pick up this one at the Strand tomorrow!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

It sounds like an interesting book. Thanks.

Jan said...

I've wondered about reading this, but didn't know if there would be anything new.

dust bunny said...

I LOVE your new header!

Barbara B. said...

Jan, There were some new things for me... I thought the book was very good.

Dust Bunny, Thanks -- Julie at www.loneprairie.net does great work.

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

mmm... i have a few of his books on my shelf and haven't read them. someone in mky former life did... and he put him right over the edge. too bad b/c this sounds like a good read for him... but i'm not going there. eeeaaaaayaaaaa

Songbird said...

I'll check in again after I get my copy!

Barbara B. said...

Hot Cup: If you're talking about who I think you're talking about... I can see where this book might have put him over the edge!

Songbird: I'm looking forward to hearing what you think!

Purple said...

There is alot to like about what he writes and as some commenters have said...it could be hard to unpack etc. However, these are the things I had to wrestle with, and wrestle I did, and ultimately found having a much larger framework to move in has been so wonderful and life-giving for me.