How Jesus Became God Book Summary - How Jesus Became God Book explained in key points

How Jesus Became God summary

Bart D. Ehrma

Brief summary

How Jesus Became God by Bart D. Ehrman explores the historical journey of how Jesus, a Jewish preacher, came to be worshipped as a divine figure. It delves into the early Christian beliefs and the development of the doctrine of the divinity of Jesus.

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    How Jesus Became God
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    Early Christian Beliefs and the Divinity of Jesus

    In How Jesus Became God, Bart D. Ehrman delves into the theological evolution of early Christianity. He begins by sketching the historical Jesus, a figure who was a Jewish apocalyptic prophet, a healer, and a teacher. Ehrman demonstrates that Jesus did not claim to be divine during his lifetime. Instead, he preached about the imminent arrival of the Kingdom of God.

    The book then explores the earliest Christian beliefs about Jesus. Ehrman contends that the earliest followers of Jesus, including his disciples and his brother James, did not view him as divine. For them, Jesus was a human being chosen by God to be the long-awaited Messiah. The idea of Jesus' divinity, Ehrman argues, developed over time.

    Development of Jesus' Divinity in the New Testament

    Ehrman then turns to the New Testament to trace the emergence of the belief in Jesus' divinity. He highlights the various interpretations of Jesus in the Gospels, emphasizing that the earliest Gospel, Mark, portrays Jesus as a human being. It's only in the later Gospels, such as Matthew, Luke, and John, that Jesus' divine nature is more prominently emphasized.

    Ehrman argues that the Gospel of John is particularly significant in the development of the belief in Jesus' divinity. He explains that John presents Jesus as the pre-existent divine Word of God who became human. This portrayal of Jesus as a divine figure, Ehrman suggests, was a later theological development influenced by Hellenistic and Jewish philosophical ideas.

    Theological Debates and the Council of Nicaea

    In the third part of How Jesus Became God, Ehrman explores the theological controversies surrounding Jesus' nature in the early Christian community. He discusses the diverse and often conflicting views on Jesus' divinity, highlighting the debates between theologians like Arius and Athanasius.

    These debates culminated in the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, where the Christian leaders attempted to settle the issue of Jesus' divinity. Ehrman explains that the council's decision, enshrined in the Nicene Creed, affirmed Jesus as 'being of the same substance' as God the Father, marking a pivotal moment in the establishment of orthodox Christian beliefs about Jesus' divinity.

    Aftermath of the Council and the Doctrine of the Trinity

    In the aftermath of the Council of Nicaea, Ehrman discusses the continued theological debates and the subsequent development of the doctrine of the Trinity. He explains that the doctrine of the Trinity, which posits that God exists as three persons in one essence, emerged as a way to reconcile the belief in Jesus' divinity with the monotheistic Jewish tradition.

    Throughout this development, Ehrman emphasizes that the belief in Jesus' divinity was not a unanimous or uncontested early Christian belief. Instead, it was the product of complex theological debates and political struggles within the early church.

    Conclusion: The Evolution of a Central Christian Belief

    In conclusion, How Jesus Became God provides a thorough and thought-provoking exploration of the historical development of the belief in Jesus' divinity. Ehrman argues that the idea of Jesus as God was not a self-evident truth from the beginning, but rather a belief that evolved over several centuries, shaped by theological debates, scriptural interpretations, and philosophical influences. By shedding light on this complex historical process, Ehrman challenges readers to rethink their understanding of Jesus and the origins of one of Christianity's central tenets.

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    What is How Jesus Became God about?

    How Jesus Became God by Bart D. Ehrman explores the historical journey of early Christians as they grappled with the identity of Jesus. Ehrman delves into the diverse beliefs about Jesus in the first few centuries after his death and examines how the idea of his divinity emerged and evolved over time. This thought-provoking book challenges traditional views and offers a fascinating perspective on the development of Christian theology.

    How Jesus Became God Review

    How Jesus Became God (2014) delves into the historical evolution of Jesus's divinity and the early Christian beliefs. Here's why this book is worth the read:
    • Exploring the complexity of how Jesus transitioned from a mere mortal to a divine figure, it sheds light on an intriguing historical transformation.
    • The book presents in-depth research and analysis of ancient texts, offering a comprehensive understanding of the theological developments around Jesus's deification.
    • By challenging traditional perspectives and providing fresh insights, it keeps readers engaged and offers a thought-provoking journey through early Christian history.

    Who should read How Jesus Became God?

    • Individuals interested in the historical development of Christian theology

    • Readers curious about the early debates and controversies surrounding the divinity of Jesus

    • Those who want to explore different perspectives on the identity of Jesus within the context of ancient Judaism and early Christianity

    About the Author

    Bart D. Ehrman is a renowned scholar of early Christianity and the New Testament. He is a professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and has written extensively on the historical Jesus, the development of Christian beliefs, and the early church. Ehrman's books, such as Misquoting Jesus and Lost Christianities, have challenged traditional views and sparked important discussions about the origins of Christianity. With his expertise and engaging writing style, Ehrman provides valuable insights into the complex and fascinating history of how Jesus came to be seen as divine.

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    How Jesus Became God FAQs 

    What is the main message of How Jesus Became God?

    This book explores how the concept of Jesus' divinity developed in early Christianity.

    How long does it take to read How Jesus Became God?

    The estimated reading time for How Jesus Became God is a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just a few minutes.

    Is How Jesus Became God a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How Jesus Became God is a compelling read for those interested in religious history. It sheds light on the evolving beliefs about Jesus' divinity.

    Who is the author of How Jesus Became God?

    The author of How Jesus Became God is Bart D. Ehrman.

    What to read after How Jesus Became God?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How Jesus Became God, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Choose Yourself by James Altucher
    • Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
    • The Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher
    • The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan