Jesus Before the Gospels by Bart Ehrman

This is basically more of the same Bart Ehrman I’ve read for 2 prior books except that for this book Ehrman uses some extra-Biblical sources to show the historical inaccuracy of the Gospels because there was nothing written for 40 years and who knows what can happen with memory over the course of 40 years.   He goes on to discuss various kinds of memory and finally to put all that together to understand the nature of the memories of people who lived and heard about Jesus, were converted,  between those years.   In some ways Ehrman is continuing his work rather than repeating it (although he does that, too).

Jesus Before the Gospels

by Bart Ehrman
2015 / 336 pages
read by Joe Barrett
Rating:  9 – 10h  5m

The book deals with oral tradition,  inventions, 1st person accounts,  distorted memories,  collective memory and inaccuracies within the Gospels,  the sayings of Jesus and the rather special cases of John and Thomas.  At the core it’s about the context in which they were written,  the nature of memory,  and finally, the context in which that memory took root.  The book is very well organized and builds slowly to its conclusions and the conclusionss are what made my rating as high as it is.

I am in complete agreement with Ehrman,  but I have problems with him anyway and sometimes argue as I listen to the books.  Sometimes he is just so astounded that there might be differences of opinion about the interpretation of the Gospels or the historical Jesus – his readers should be shocked like his fundamentalist students are.    This is true in Jesus Before the Gospels,  too,  but something changes at about Chapter 7 and he starts putting the information together – our knowledge of memory and the nature of the individual Gospels – Mark, John and Thomas especially – as well as in their contexts.

The last three chapters save the whole book and I’m glad I read it.

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2 Responses to Jesus Before the Gospels by Bart Ehrman

  1. jameswharris says:

    Becky, you sure can read books fast. It seems like you just said you’d would read this book, and now I’m reading the review.

    You read emotions from Ehrman I never see. For example, he doesn’t seem astounded at anything to me. Ehrman seems even keeled and purely intellectual to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t read that fast – I just read a lot – I spend lots of time doing it. This was a two-day book – mostly all day yesterday. I read about 12 – 15 books a month. Audio books are slower but I can listen while I cook or clean up.

      Maybe the emotional thing was due to the reader – and many it was subtle – and maybe it was just reader response (me). lol


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