How Jesus Became God: A Book Review -- By: Michael J. Kruger

Journal: Bible and Spade (Second Run)
Volume: BSPADE 027:3 (Summer 2014)
Article: How Jesus Became God: A Book Review
Author: Michael J. Kruger

How Jesus Became God: A Book Review

Michael J. Kruger

Over the years I have had the opportunity to review a number of Bart Ehrman’s books, including, most recently, his volume Forged: Writing in the Name of God—Why the Bibles Authors are Not Who We Think They Are (HarperOne, 2011). At the end of that review, I concluded with these words:

[Ehrman] regularly goes beyond what the evidence can sustain. For this reason the book, like many of his others, comes across as more autobiographical than academic; more polemical than historical. Ehrman still seems to be chasing the ghosts of his evangelical past. One wonders how many more books he will need to write before they go away.

As to how many more books Ehrman feels the need to write, apparently the answer is (at least) one more. This new book, How Jesus Became God, has very much the same feel as all of Ehrman’s other books. It is a heavy dose of his de-conversion story coupled with arguments about how mainstream scholarship has disproved some major tenet of the Christian faith—in this instance, the belief that Jesus is God. And, just like in his book Forged, Ehrman regularly goes beyond what the evidence can sustain, giving the reader the impression that there is more in play here than just neutral, objective, historical investigation.

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Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has written or edited twenty-nine books, numerous scholarly articles, and dozens of book reviews. Sadly, Dr. Ehrman’s recent, popular level books are fraught with many shortcomings. Author Kruger’s review illustrates how Ehrman’s arguments do not hold up to scrutiny.

Overview Of Ehrman’s Argument

Ehrman’s core argument is that Jesus was a mere man who gradually, over time, came to be regarded as more and more divine, until he was ultimately (in the fourth century) regarded as the God of the universe. He states,

It will become clear in the following chapters that Jesus was not originally considered to be God in any sense at all, and that he eventually became divine for his followers in some sense before he came to be thought of as equal with God Almighty in an absolute sense. But the point I stress is that this was, in fact, a development (p. 44).

Thus, Ehrman’s Christological model is really an evolutionary one (what he calls a “development”), moving from low Christology (in fact, very low) to the highest Christology imaginable, with many gradations in between. Of course, Ehrman is quick to qualify his evolution...

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