Two confessions (this is not an April Fool’s Joke!)
#1: I have never, ever read the work of Bart Ehrman before.
#2: I am excited to read How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (HarperOne, 2014). [It just arrived on my desk – thank you to HarperOne!]
Why am I excited? Not because I think Ehrman is the most brilliant thing ever to happen to NT studies. But because, unlike several other of his popular-level books, this subject (Christology) is actually a high-profile debate in the academic guild. When it comes to textual criticism and pseudonymous authorship (two topics Ehrman has previously treated), while I didn’t read those books the general impression I got from reviews was that Ehrman was hyping up the issues. Very few confessional scholars lose sleep over text-critical concerns and fears that NT texts are “forged.” However, Christology really is the make-or-break topic in the New Testament.
To say I am excited to read his book does not mean I expect to be persuaded by his major argument – that the disciples did not really believe him to be God (see back cover). However, there are enough question marks about New Testament Christology, ancient conceptions of divinity, and how early Christian thought about Jesus developed over time that I am open to hearing what Ehrman has to say.
From the ZonderBird response book (How God Became Jesus, Zondervan 2014), I am most interested in rejoinder essays by Simon Gathercole and Mike Bird. On a different note, I really, really hope Hurtado, Bauckham, and Dunn write reviews on Ehrman – long reviews! Inquiring minds want to know!