Some Responses to Ehrman and Bird Christology Books

Several reviews and comments on the “christology war” books have appeared. Here’s a few:

Parchment and Pen (Rob Bowman). A good summary of both books and an evaluation of each one, including recognition of the stuff that Ehrman gets right. Sadly, Bowman does not “get” my sense of humour and takes issue with how I frame John’s Gospels (sigh), but he gives a great plug for Craig Evan’s work on the burial traditions!

Tim Chester (Tim Chester). Gives a good plug for the book!

Post (Andrew Perriman). Perriman reviews my chapter on whether Jesus thought he was God. He gives  “yes and no” response, agreeing with me that Jesus’ teaching and actions did “blur the boundary between author and agent,” but he contests my reading of several Gospel passages including the Son of Man sayings. Alas, I wish Andrew loved my work on the Son of Man as much as I love his!

Exploring our Matrix (James McGrath). My buddy James (who’ll be at an SBL session on both books) talks about the initial ripples of both books. He’s right that the Ehrman is largely popularizing views widely extant in mainline scholarship about the origins of christology. He’s right in the sense that many believe that a christology did evolve or develop and I would not deny that. Evangelical scholars (generally I hope) don’t think that Jesus cruised around Palestine saying, “Hi, I’m God, second person of the Trinity, soon I’m gonna die for your sins, and then after that you should probably worship me.” Nor do evangelical scholars think that God downloaded the Nicene Creed into the minds of the apostles ten seconds after Pentecost. The christology of the early church undoubtedly developed and was debated … no contest. The question as to whether christology developed/evolved along the pattern projected by the old German religionsgeschichte schule or by its latent variations is equally settled, it didn’t … no contest. Bousset’s theory has been cut into more pieces than Darth Maul.  So, yes, everyone agrees that development occurred, but some models of development have been well and truly debunked, McGrath should have said so. What is more, I feel some frustration with scholars who write about the origins of christology and entirely ignore the work of Martin Hengel, Larry Hurtado, and Richard Bauckham. If you’re theory of christological origins does not make those three part of your major dialogue partner, I suspect that you’re either feigning ignorance, or else you have something to hide.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Not to include Hengel, Hurtado, Bauckham is like not including Einstein when learning the discipline of physics or the history of science in the 20th century. Just sayin’!

  • Ian Paul

    ‘What is more, I feel some frustration with scholars who write about the origins of christology and entirely ignore the work of Martin Hengel, Larry Hurtado, and Richard Bauckham. If you’re theory of christological origins does not make those three part of your major dialogue partner, I suspect that you’re either feigning ignorance, or else you have something to hide.’

    Nicely put.

  • Jim

    Looking through the notes in How Jesus Became God, Ehrman does reference Larry Hurtado and Martin Hengel (see notes for chapters 4 and 6).