The Historical Jesus Part II

The Historical Jesus

Part II

Professor Bart D. Ehrman

Table of Contents

The Historical Jesus

Part II

Professor Biography see Part I

Course Scope see Part I

Lecture Thirteen Jesus and Roman Rule 1

Lecture Fourteen Jesus the Apocalyptic Prophet 5

Lecture Fifteen The Apocalyptic Teachings of Jesus 8

Lecture Sixteen Other Teachings of Jesus in their Apocalyptic Context 11

Lecture Seventeen The Deeds of Jesus in their Apocalyptic Context 14

Lecture Eighteen Still Other Words and Deeds of Jesus 17

Lecture Nineteen The Controversies of Jesus 21

Lecture Twenty The Last Days of Jesus 25

Lecture Twenty-One    The Last Hours of Jesus 29

Lecture Twenty-Two    The Death and Resurrection of Jesus 32

Lecture Twenty-Three  The Afterlife of Jesus 35

Lecture Twenty-Four   The Prophet of the New Millennium 38

Timeline See Part I

Glossary See Part I

Biographical Notes 42

Annotated Bibliography 44

The Historical Jesus Part I

The Historical Jesus

Part I

Professor Bart D. Ehrman


Bart Ehrman, Ph.D.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Bart Ehrman is the Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With degrees from Wheaton College (B.A.) and Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div. and Ph.D., magna cum laude), he taught at Rutgers for four years before moving to UNC in 1988. During his tenure at UNC, he has garnered numerous awards and prizes, including the Students’ Undergraduate Teaching Award (1993), the Ruth and Philip Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement (1994), and now the Bowman and Gordon Gray Award for excellence in teaching (1998).

With a focus on early Christianity in its Greco-Roman environment and a special expertise in textual criticism of the New Testament, Professor Ehrman has published dozens of book reviews and over twenty scholarly articles for academic journals. He has authored or edited eight books, including Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Oxford University Press, 1999); The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (Oxford, 1997; 2nd ed., 1999); After the New Testament: A Reader in Early Christianity (Oxford, 1999); The New Testament and Other Early Christian Writings: A Reader (Oxford 1998); The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture (Oxford, 1993); and The Text of the New Testament in Contemporary Research (Eerdmans, 1996). He is currently at work on a new Greek–English edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press).

Professor Ehrman is a popular lecturer, giving numerous talks each year for such groups as the Carolina Speakers Bureau, the UNC Program for the Humanities, the Biblical Archaeology Society, various local groups, and select universities across the nation. He has served as the president of the Society of Biblical Literature, SE Region; book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature; editor of the Scholar’s Press Monograph Series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers; and co-editor of the E.J. Brill series New Testament Tools and Studies. Among his administrative responsibilities, Professor Ehrman has served on the executive committee of the Southeast Council for the Study of Religion and has chaired the New Testament textual criticism section of the Society of Biblical Religion, as well as serving as Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of Religious Studies at UNC.

©2000 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership i
Table of Contents

The Historical Jesus

Part I

Professor Biography i

Course Scope 1

Lecture One The Many Faces of Jesus 2

Lecture Two One Remarkable Life 5

Lecture Three Scholars Look at the Gospels 8

Lecture Four Fact and Fiction in the Gospels 11

Lecture Five The Birth of the Gospels 15

Lecture Six Some of the Other Gospels 18

Lecture Seven The Coptic Gospel of Thomas 21

Lecture Eight Other Sources 24

Lecture Nine Historical Criteria  Getting Back to Jesus 27

Lecture Ten More Historical Criteria 31

Lecture Eleven The Early Life of Jesus 34

Lecture Twelve Jesus in His Context 38

Timeline 43

Glossary 45

Biographical Notes See Part II

Annotated Bibliography See Part II


Are religious believers more depressed than atheists?

It could be a chicken-and egg problem. It's hard to make much of the causal factors because other studies provide conflicting evidence, and it seems in some cases that there are confounding factors at work (for instance, one study linked low depression risk with the participants' satisfaction with their close relationships). It certainly doesn't look like religion itself is the main factor so much as things like social involvement and personal optimism, which makes it all the more interesting that now we have a study showing the opposite effect.
Examples of other studies with different results than the OP's can be found below, but otherwise just skip to the last two for a study that looks for other factors and for a review of the literature as a whole: 

Most interesting are the last two, and I'll add quotations from them to indicate the most interesting stuff. The first one points out that it's not so much spirituality itself as factors like social support and general optimism that matter, and spirituality simply works through those factors. The second one points out that, while there is a difference, it's not a strong one, and the literature in general is not the tightest.
Although many studies suggest lower rates of depressive symptoms in those who report greater spirituality, few have investigated the mechanisms by which spirituality might relate to depressive symptoms... Spirituality was indirectly related to depressive symptoms. More specifically, spirituality was significantly associated with optimism and volunteering but not with social support, and optimism, volunteering and perceived social support were significantly associated with depressive symptoms. The link between spirituality and depressive symptoms is indirect. The relationship is mediated by optimism, volunteering, and social support. Findings present research and practice implications.
We reviewed data from approximately 80 published and unpublished studies that examined the association of religious affiliation or involvement with depressive symptoms or depressive disorder... Although these associations tend to be consistent, they are modest and are substantially reduced in multivariate research. Longitudinal research is sparse, but suggests that some forms of religious involvement might exert a protective effect against the incidence and persistence of depressive symptoms or disorders. The existing research is sufficient to encourage further investigation of the associations of religion with depressive symptoms and disorder. Religion should be measured with higher methodological standards than those that have been accepted in survey research to date.
The original study can be found here:


Holy Wars


When asked by The Barna Group what words or phrases best describe Christianity, the top response among Americans ages 16-29 was “antihomosexual.” For a staggering 91 percent of non-Christians, this was the first word that came to their mind when asked about the Christian faith. The same was true for 80 percent of young churchgoers. (The next most common negative images? : “judgmental,” “hypocritical,” and “too involved in politics.”)


Moore was removed from office as a Supreme Court chief justice in 2003 for his refusal to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Judicial Building despite orders to do so from a federal judge.


Income Inequality Correlates With Religiosity

The United States has the highest economic disparity in the Western world. It is also the most religious - about twice as religious as the U.K. This paper argues that economic inequality is a large contributor to the degree of religiosity in the U.S.

        There is strong support for the idea that America’s large income gap may be the cause of its exceptionally high religiosity. Although the United States and the United Kingdom are both among the most unequal countries, the United States has a considerably higher level of income inequality than the United Kingdom, as measured by comparing the incomes of the richest and the poorest 20 percent in each country (Pickett 2011; 17). This fact may play a role in the explanatory framework of the extent of America’s religiosity when compared to that of the U.K. Research on religion and inequality has found strong correlation between high levels of inequality and high religiosity. According to the Evolutionary Psychology journal’s article, The Chronic Dependence of Popular Religiosity upon Dysfunctional Psychosociological Conditions, “high levels of income disparity, popular religiosity as measured by differing levels of belief and activity, and rejection of evolutionary science correlate strongly negatively with improving conditions” (Paul 2007; 398). Graph 1.0 and Graph 1.1 demonstrate the relationship between Gini-coefficient income inequality and popular religiosity versus secularism scale.

Graph 1.0 Income inequality in rich countries is related to religiosity.

Graph 1.0 Key: Each country is represented by the bold letter in each country’s name. 
The United States is represented by the letter “U” and England by the letter “E”.


How to Talk About Religion

The rule is “don’t talk about Religion, money, or politics at the dinner table.” Why? These discussions become really heated and the atmosphere becomes tense. So I will talk here about how to talk about these issues without the consequences.
You have to know the purpose of your “talk”. You can either “discuss” or “argue”. You should argue only if the person is willing—and wanting—to change his mind. So, for example, you would not argue with a fundamentalist Christian—you would not change their mind. “like giving medicine to the dead”.
The key is finding whether you want to discuss or argue. Discussing means you share your opinions with the goal of learning the other person’s point of view. The goal here is not to have your worldview validated, but to learn something. Here, watch out for the trap of turning it into an argument by countering their opinion with which you disagree. So the only response to the other person’s beliefs should be a question clarifying their view (not a challenge). I will argue that discussion also serves the purpose of persuasion without heightening the tension. To argue means to counteract the other person’s statements, or to attack. This includes playing the devil’s advocate.
It is easy to fall into the trap of turning a discussion into an argument, so you have to always be aware of your purpose and keep it in mind with every statement you make. Being more knowledgeable about religion puts you into the position of power, so it is easy to slip into the trap of gaining control of the discussion and countering every statement the other person makes—which builds tension. It’s like ego masturbation, so you’ve got to cut off the discussion, possibly by bringing awareness to what you are doing (arguing). “Hey, I just realized that this is an argument, but I just wanted to discuss the topic”. This statement can serve as a natural transition to talking about the difficulty of keeping the boundary between the two.
You should never argue, even if your goal is to persuade the person. Arguing with your friends is never a good idea. Argument is an attack on the person (I’m doubting if there is ever a reason to argue with friends), which, even if you win, hurt their self-esteem. And you don’t want o hurt your friend’s self-esteem, so if you win the argument, you both loose. The guiding principle should be love, and you should never attack. People are not computers that respond to evidence. People are emotional beings and do not respond to reason. Persuasion should take the form of simply stating your belief, and not arguing about it. So the most effective method to persuade somebody is to simply state your beliefeven if they do agree, they have heard you and it will weight in with the other factors on which their belief depends (such as the benefits that come with believing in it). You’ve got to be humble and accept that most of the time—in fact never (how many times have you won an argument?, none, because of self-serving bias)—you will not immediately change somebody’s belief (because of other factors that the person takes into account). To believe you alone should be enough to change somebody’s belief is presumptuous, arrogant, and na├»ve. Once each of you took a turn stating your beliefs, you should stop and move on to another topic (such as why it is so hard to talk about religion).

You should discuss

In a discussion, you should never tell the person that they are wrong. Say, “I believe that… because of…” And if you find that they are defending themselves, and you are going back and forth, you are arguing, and so you should stop immediately.

The very existence of atheists is an attack on religion. Religion holds a certain worldview (God exists) as true, and atheists deny it (God does not exist). Saying that there is no god to a religious person is like saying that his wife is ugly.