Bart D. Ehrman paints a picture in “Jesus, Interrupted”, of the bible, which makes complete sense to me. He answers the questions that my 8-year-old self began asking and those I continued to ask all the way to my deconversion.
Ehrman explains how an historical scholar would approach the analysis of a book – he calls the bible “the most significant book in human history”. He speaks about reading the bible horizontally which refers to examining similar stories and how they are told across the gospels and other books of the bible. He uses this technique to answer all the questions I have asked for many years, backed up by extensive historical research.
- Did Jesus exist?
- Did Jesus call himself God?
- Why was Jesus thought to be divine and when did this happen?
- Who was the real Jesus, what was his message, and is it decipherable after so many millennia?
- Why are there so many discrepancies in a book that was “written by god”?
- Who wrote the bible?
- How did Christianity as we know it today, come to be?
Bart D. Ehrman is an ex-evangelical who lost his belief in a “god-inspired” bible as he studied at a protestant seminary. He maintains throughout his book, that understanding the bible better doesn’t necessarily lead to his chosen path of Agnosticism.
Where does it lead?
I believe his comment is genuine. To me, however, it should definitely lead to any intelligent person seriously questioning their absolute belief in a very fallible book. One that, after all, is composed of many disparate stories, by fallible humans with very specific goals in mind. Most of these stories were written long after the events and display clear attempts to sell personal belief systems - often through forgery or misrepresentation.
Ehrman displays a wide and deep array of biblical knowledge but suggests that most of this knowledge is available throughout the protestant and catholic seminaries. He questions why this knowledge is not shared more often with churchgoers? Why do educated preachers go back to teaching the bible as a “god-inspired” book despite having been taught all the historical detail and context?
I believe that anyone who has questioned the basis for their Christian beliefs, whether inside or outside of the faith, must read “Jesus, Interrupted”. It is a very obvious addition to my Ultimate Book List for Atheists.
It raises the question: If Christianity had not been hijacked by Rome, what version of it would be alive today? How would the world be different (for better or worse)? Would an obscure, apocalyptic preacher still be remembered and revered?
Would I simply have had another religion to deconvert from?