Monday, August 20, 2007

Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene

I just finished Bart Ehrman's Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. I think I have read about everything that Ehrman has written, and have had the opportunity to listen to a number of his lectures on CD and had the privilege of seeing him lecture. Once again, I was impressed at the skill that Ehrman presents his argument in a very non-technical way that most people can grasp. He has got to be a lot of fun to have in class.

His premise, in a nutshell, is that we can know a little bit about Peter, more about Paul and almost nothing about the historical Mary. That most of what we know of all three of these important players in the early Christian movement is from a much later time, and is often history created to fit the agenda of a particular group or movement within Christianity.

A great deal is rehashed from his book bashing the DaVinci Code, but how many times do we have to go over the same material. It did make me want to follow up on some of the references that he made, particularly to Karen King's work on The Gospel of Mary Magdala.

The one thing I am still waiting for from Ehrman is an understanding of where he is coming from. He grew up in a fundamentalist tradition (went to Wheaton College I believe) and in a recent BAR (Biblical Archeology Review) article said that he was not a believer. I would love to know what he really believes about Jesus and the early church --- not just from a historians point of view, but from the view of someone who has wrestled with the materials of the first couple of centuries of Christianity --- has seen all (or at least many of the warts), but still is trying to make sense of it all.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the first few centuries of the Jesus movement and the roles that Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene played in them. My biggest complaint with Ehrman is that he teaches at UNC and seems to hate the Blue Devil's, but he does have the good fortune of being married to a professor from Duke!


Anonymous said...

Ehrman did attend Wheaton College after 3 years at Moody.
In the article you referred to was Ehrman quoted as saying he wasn't a believer or was it the opinion of the writer?
I read Misquoting Jesus and this book you just read sounds interesting, I'll have to pick up a copy.
One last note, believe it or not there are some out there that don't give a rip about the "tarheels" or the "blue devils".


Steve Conger said...

What do you mean their are people who don't give a rip about the blue devils. I am concerned for your mental health Pat!!!!!

Ehrman was being interviewed along with some other scholars. I have the article if you are interested.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am interested. I'll have to read it.