How God Became Jesus, by multiple evangelical scholars, is a popular-style, accessible rebuttal to Bart Ehrman’s book, How Jesus Became God.
From the preface of How God Became Jesus, by editor and Australian scholar Michael Bird:
[Bart] Ehrman is something of a celebrity skeptic. The media attraction is easy to understand. Ehrman has a famous deconversion story from being a fundamentalist Christian to becoming a “happy agnostic.” He’s a New York Times bestselling author, having written several books about the Bible, Jesus, and God with a view to debunking widely held religious beliefs based on a mixture of bad history, deception, and myth. He’s a publicist dream since in talk shows and in live debates he knows how to stir a crowd through hefty criticism, dry wit, on the spot recall of historical facts, and rhetorical hyberbole. He also has a global audience…
For conservative Christians, Ehrman is a bit of a bogeyman… Conservatives buy his books if only for the purpose of keeping their disgust with him fresh and find out what America’s favorite skeptic is up to now… For secularists,… Erhman is a godsend. He provides succor and solace that one need not take Jesus too seriously, confirming that religion is the opiate of the masses and that the whole God thing might be just a big mistake.
Why is Bart Ehrman, a professor of religion teaching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, on a lot of people’s radar?
Reza Aslan’s, Zealot, has profited greatly from an embarrassing television interview gone viral. But does Aslan’s creative thesis really deliver?
Was Jesus a “Zealot”, a Jewish political revolutionary? According to a new popular book by Reza Aslan, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, the answer would be “yes”.
Aslan’s conclusion is in marked contrast with what I wrote on Veracity just last week and before. There I briefly made the case that Jesus offered an alternative between those Jews, like the tax collector, Matthew, who colluded with Rome, and others like Simon the Zealot, who sought to violently eject the Romans from the land. Matthew and Simon joined the group of Jesus’ twelve disciples and were drawn by Jesus’ extra-political claim as being the One who transcends and personally fulfills the messianic hopes and national aspirations of first century Judaism. A less convinced author, Reza Aslan, pretty much casts aside Jesus’ relationship with those like Matthew and places him squarely in the Zealot camp, prior to the formation of a distinct “Zealot party” that dominated Jewish politics during the era of Josephus.
But the Zealot issue is not what has captured the public’s attention about Aslan’s book. Rather, the spark was a recent, combative interview on the FOX television network. The controversy originated over whether or not a Muslim had a right to write a book about Jesus. The case that Aslan was making got lost in a series of ad hominem attacks. Yikes!! Granted, Aslan makes an embarrassingly big deal about how many academic degrees he has (“look how smart I am!”), but might I suggest that the way FOX conducted the interview was not terribly helpful, to put it mildly?