ProsThis book is easy to read and very interesting.
ConsThis book re-treads some of the same ground covered in other books by this author.
The first book I read by Dr. Bart D Ehrmann was entitled "Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew." This is a delightful book I would highly recommend to everybody of any faith. Even if you are Buddhist or Hindu, it is an interesting history of how this thing called "Christianity" came to be, written in layman's English. Dr. Ehrmann teaches at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (when he is not writing books.) He is imminently qualified to write on this subject, being known in his field as a translator of ancient texts. I enjoyed this book so much I started looking for other books by him. At the time, the only other thing available was a textbook he had written which I found on EBay and the companion book to "Lost Christianities" a volume entitled "Lost Scriptures."
"Lost Scriptures" is probably Dr. Ehrmann's darling, because it's actually a straight translation, with little commentary, on the very texts he described in "Lost Christianities." I'm sure it was a difficult feat to piece to together and translate ancient fragile text, much more the meat of his work that his interpretations and theories, it just isn't as interesting to the un-scholarly reader, as his expository books. The textbook on the other hand, was an expanded version of "Lost Christianities." I read it cover to cover. It was fascinating and full of photographs.
What followed after the publication of that those first three books was Dr. Ehrmann's fame and fall from faith. His fame has enabled him to churn out new titles at an astonished rate. Most of the, unfortunately, cover much the same material. His fall from faith seems to be increasingly covered in each new book. The books are all interesting, "Jesus, Interrupted" included. Anyone will appreciate his ability to write in a conversational style. I imagine he enjoys teaching first year students, something many scholars expressly do NOT like, because Dr. Ehrmann is so skilled at explanation and even handed information. Nothing he says, as he points out quite often, is arcane or disputed information.
It is certainly interesting then, how a cottage industry has arisen of books written in the fundamentalist camp debating his books. One of them I found on Amazon.com was entitled "Misquoting Truth." Obviously this was a take on one of Dr. Ehrmann's books entitled, "Misquoting Jesus." Having read nearly everything Ehrmann has written, in addition to reading the bible itself, I can tell you absolutely there is nothing that should scare a fundamentalist in any of his work. They are HISTORY books, not devotionals. There is no agenda in his work to tear people away from the faith, and nothing in any of his books can't be checked out by the average reader, bible in hand.
"Jesus, Interrupted" tells the human story behind the divine book. For years, when I attended church with my husband, I was troubled by discrepancies in the bible. As the pastor and church we attended believed strongly that nothing in the Bible contradicts itself, they worked overtime to explain some of the unexplainable discrepancies. These were people, I will add, who also believed the Earth was about 7,000 years old, and that each animal species came to life intact and unrelated to other species. These were people who thought dinosaur bones were either a hoax or much younger than scientists would admit.
So when I asked why was it that Jesus genealogy was different in the two gospels where it is mentioned, my pastor gave me a convoluted answer that made no sense rather than admit he did not know. When I asked, "If Jesus is the son of God, why does it matter what Joseph's lineage was? What proof is there he's even from the house of David if we don't know Mary's lineage?" I knew I had overstepped my bounds. This pastor was uncomfortable answering questions that he did not know the answer to. We were supposed to take things on faith. I never got a satisfactory answer to that completely straightforward question.
When I realized no one else was curious I embarked on my own exploration for answers. One of the most common answers I came across is what's called in logic a "Straw Man" argument. A "Straw Man" is easy to knock down. Thus the phrase refers to, avoiding the hard question, by knocking down a simple one. Instead of explaining why there are so many discrepancies in the bible, I mean for heaven's sake, the four gospels can't even agree on what day Jesus died â€“ a "straw man" argument is to assert how "incredible and against all odds" it is that there are NO, not a single one, discrepancies in the bible. It is surely divine, authors such as Lee Strobel in "The Case for Christ" argue, that this book which has been copied and re-copied for two thousand years was so reliably preserved.
That's wonderful news if you are already Christian, and want to believe it was reliably preserved. However, you only have to pop by a bookstore and pull three translations off the shelf to see within our lifetime how Unreliably the poor thing has been preserved. And that's just in English. We would have to know Greek and Hebrew and possibly Aramaic to know how well the ancient copies were preserved. "Jesus, Interrupted" gives us such a better model to work with. Rather than assuming everything must match, we are given the freedom to accept everything does NOT have to correlate.
Once we accept the historical truth: the bible we have now was put together over centuries, by various authors, editors, and editorial teams, to arrive at the state we now see it. In fact I would add to that, that in the last hundred years more alternative translations in English have become available then were for the 500 years prior. So if one writer was writing with a certain agenda based on his background and interests, it is good to see the differences in style and content.