Bart Ehrman’s New Book “How Jesus Became God”

Over at Bart Ehrman’s blog are a couple of previews (see here) of his forthcoming book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (HarperOne, due out in March 2014).

Any way, I’ve been in hospital recently, and while I was there I caught up with a little bit of Martin Hengel’s short volume, The Son of God, and here is why:

Martin Hengel exposed many of the tenuous arguments put forward for an evolutionary process to christological development (e.g., Wilhelm Bousset). He argued that: “The time between the death of Jesus and the fully developed christology which we find in the earliest Christian documents, the letters of Paul is so short that the development which takes place within it can only be called amazing.”[1] If that is the case, then, he claimed “more happened in this period of less than two decades than in the whole next seven centuries, up to the time when the doctrine of the early church was completed.”[2]

Note that a response to Ehrman’s book is coming out at the same time: Michael Bird (ed.), How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature – A Response to Bart Ehrman featuring Craig A. Evans, Chris Tilling, Simon Gathercole, and Charles Hill.


[1] Martin Hengel, “Christology and New Testament Chronology: A Problem in the History of Earliest Christianity,” in Between Jesus and Paul (London: SCM, 1983), 31.

[2] Martin Hengel, The Son of God: The Origin of Christology and the History of Jewish-Hellenistic Religion (London: SCM,1975), 4.

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  • Marcus_Aurelius5

    it’s always fun to watch the apologists scramble anytime an incovenient or uncomfortable bit of information about christianity is disseminated to the public. just like the way the creationists are railing against the new Cosmos series….

  • Patrick Goggins

    I read “How Jesus Became God” and the refutation, “How God Became Jesus.” Both books explained progressive Christology, how almost all Christologies – high and low – were around very early on, and how, chronologically, these Christologies were *eliminated*, from low to high, as the nascent church built its orthodoxy.

    My comments, and these goes to both books, are: 1) they assume that Jesus’s ministry was apocalyptic, when Crossan and others make a good case that Jesus’s ministry was sapiential – that is, present here now and attainable through adhering to the law, and 2) that the Pauline epistles are the earliest source writings – when the Epistle of James the Just arguable pre-dates them.

    For further discussion of these comments, and a thorough review of both “How Jesus Became God” and “How God Became Jesus,” please check out my book guide, available here:

    This is the latest in a series which includes my best-selling Reader’s Guide to Reza Aslan’s Zealot, available here:

    …and my Reader’s Guide to Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Jesus, which you can get here: