Misquoting Jesus with Bart Ehrman

By Bart Ehrman

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Episodes: 34


"Misquoting Jesus” is the only show where a six-time New York Times bestselling author and world-renowned Bible scholar uncovers the many fascinating, little known facts about the New Testament, the historical Jesus, and the rise of Christianity.  The show features Dr. Bart Ehrman and host, Megan Lewis.

Episode Date
Did Jesus’ Disciples Think He Was God?

One of the central tenets of many denominations of modern Christianity is that Jesus is God. The Nicene Creed describes him as “of one being with the Father”...but just how old is this idea?

If you asked Jesus’ disciples if he was a human or God, would they have affirmed his divinity, or accused you of blasphemy? And if Jesus was divine, then was he considered to be God made flesh, a human who was turned into a divinity, a "super-human" with some divine features…or what?

Jun 06, 2023
Is the Gospel of John a Forgery?

Scholars have long argued that the Gospel of John -- named after Jesus' disciple John the Son of Zebedee -- was in fact written by someone else. Only later in Christian tradition was it ascribed to John. In that view, the author himself is not a "forger" -- that is, he did not claim to be a famous person knowing he was someone else. The book was *anonymous*: the author never names himself and so can't be blamed for later readers mistaking his identity. But in fact *is* there evidence that the author wanted his readers to think he was one of Jesus' closest disciples, and that he left hints for them in the book. If so -- and if he wasn't who he intimated he was -- isn't John a forgery?

May 30, 2023
Did Paul Accept the Teachings of Jesus?

Many people do not realize just how infrequently Paul mentions the sayings of Jesus himself. And scholars can't agree why he doesn't quote Jesus more. Did Paul not know what Jesus taught? How could he not know? Did he think it wasn't important? Wasn't relevant? Was misleading? Moreover, if we compare what Jesus taught with what Paul taught -- are we even dealing with the same religion. These are some of most important issues confronting a historical understanding of the New Testament and early Christianity.

May 23, 2023
Is Paul the Founder of Christianity?

It has long been said among historical scholars that Christianity is not the religion *of* Jesus but the religion *about* him. In this view, Jesus was a Jewish preacher who urged his fellow Jews to repent of their sins and turn back to God by observing what he demanded of them, so they could enter the coming Kingdom. But Christians did not think repentance and obedience could bring salvation at all. It was the death and resurrection of Jesus that mattered. Moreover, it is often said that Paul was the one who transformed Jesus' gospel about the coming Kingdom into a gospel of Jesus' death and resurrection. Is that true? Wouldn't that mean that Paul and Jesus had different religions? And if so, then isn't Paul, rather than Jesus, the Founder of Christianity?

May 16, 2023
Is The Gospel of John Anti-Semitic?

The Gospel of John is one of the most puzzling books of the New Testament, especially when it comes to understanding its view of Jews and Judaism. On one hand, Jesus is clearly described as a Jew who understands and teaches the law of Moses and who keeps Jewish customs and festivals. On the other hand, the Gospel condemns Jews, makes them guilty for the execution of Jesus, and even declares that their "father" is not Abraham, let alone God, but the Devil. How can one book so fully embrace Judaism and yet condemn it. And importantly, is this kind of vitriolic opposition to Jews and Judaism appropriately called "anti-semitism"? The answer will surprise many listeners.

May 09, 2023
Were the Apostles of Jesus All Martyred?

One of the claims consistently made by Christian apologists is that the apostles who declared that they themselves had seen Jesus after he had been raised from the dead MUST have been telling the truth -- since they all died for their belief. Someone may die for the truth, but who would die for a lie? And ALL of them? That seems completely implausible. Therefore the disciples really were witnesses to the resurrection. In this episode we consider this claim by examining its unquestioned assumption: is it actually *true* that the apostles were all martyred for their faith? How do we know? How *could* we know? In fact, what do we know about martyrdom within Christianity at all in the first two centuries? How often did it occur? And were Christians martyred for saying that Jesus was raised from the dead?

In this episode Bart discusses what we can know about early Christian martyrdom -- what sources of information we have and whether they are reliable, issues never even broached by the apologists who raise the issue in the first place.

May 02, 2023
Was Jesus a False Prophet?

Historical scholars for over a century have maintained that Jesus predicted that the end of history as we know it was to come in his own generation. Conservative Christians -- laypeople and scholars alike -- have insisted that this is a complete mis-portrayal of Jesus. And many people -- possibly most? -- believe that if Jesus really did preach this message, not only was he obviously wrong but also Christianity cannot possibly be true. A Jesus who was *demonstrably* mistaken about a central element of his preaching could not be a prophet of God, let alone the Savior of the world.

In this episode we consider the issue and its implication: did Jesus proclaim the imminent end of the world? If so, can Christian faith even be possible, let alone reasonable?

Apr 25, 2023
A Ukrainian View of the Apocalypse

In this episode Bart interviews Ukrainian theologian Mikhail Abakumov, in exile in Poland and involved with humanitarian efforts dealing with other refugees, about how the book of Revelation is interpreted by conservative Ukrainian Christians, who believe that "the prophecies are now being fulfilled." That, of course, has long been the view of American evangelicals and fundamentalists, but standard Ukrainian understandings of what the "signs" are and where they are leading to (and America's role in the coming End) are radically different from what anyone would expect over here.

This is fascinating material, coming from someone deeply affected by the Russian invasion and intimately familiar with the religious response of the Ukrainian church.

Apr 18, 2023
Did Jesus Even Exist?

The (considerable) vitriol directed against Bart by theologically conservative Christians is (easily) matched by what he gets from critics on the opposite end of the spectrum --"mythicists" who insist not only that the New Testament is filled with legendary material but that Jesus himself was, literally, a myth: he never existed.

In this episode Bart will explain why -- whatever else you might want to say about Jesus of Nazareth -- historians of all stripes do not doubt that at the least Jesus was a first-century Jewish teacher who was crucified by the Romans.

Are the mythicists -- intent on disproving Christianity -- simply shooting themselves in the foot by taking their skepticism too far?

Apr 11, 2023
The Genius of the Gospel of Mark

The Gospel of Mark is completely underrated by most modern readers, who typically consider it a condensed version of Matthew or Luke -- a nuts-and-bolts no-nonsense account of what Jesus said and did with no literary flair. Oh boy are THEY ever wrong.

In this episode Bart explains why Mark is not only his favorite Gospel but also his favorite book of the Bible, a book with subtleties, nuances, and intricacies from start to end that most people simply never see and that make all the difference for understanding its message. This is a brilliant account of Jesus' life, one of the most intriguing books to come to us from early Christianity.

Apr 04, 2023
Was Mary Magdalene Jesus' Wife?

Most people think that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute. Others say she was Jesus' closest disciple (and the Gospels have covered it up).

Yet others go even further to suggest they had an intimate relationship -- or even were married! Is any of that possible?

If possible, is it true? In this episode we look at what we can actually know about Mary Magdalene and her relationship with Jesus. 

Mar 28, 2023
Why doesn't Bart believe in God?

A person’s reasons for deconversion from Christianity to agnosticism or atheism is something that many christens speculate wildly about, misunderstand, or simply refuse to believe, but those reasons can be varied and complex.

In this episode, Bart talks to Megan about why he de-converted, how he found meaning after religion, and why he does what he does.

Mar 21, 2023
Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality? Guest Interview with Jeffrey Siker

One of the few ways people today actually appeal to the Old Testament is to condemn same-sex sexual relations (while they ignore much of everything else it says).  

Such people usually take it as obvious that the New Testament condemns them as well. But DOES the Bible condemn homosexuality? As it turns this a lively debate among biblical scholars, and the dominant view among critical scholars is not at all what you might expect. Their reasons for holding this view is even less widely known.  

In this episode I interview biblical scholar Jeffrey Siker (PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary) long time professor of New Testament  (who is also an ordained Presbyterian minister) who explains why in fact the Bible does NOT condemn homosexuality.

Mar 14, 2023
Why is the Book of Revelation in the Bible?

Revelation is the least read and most misunderstood book of the New Testament. Many readers wonder why it is in there at all.

In this episode we consider the debates about Revelation in the early Church, seeing why numerous church leaders found it offensive (for reasons modern readers would not expect) and why eventually it came to be included in the canon anyway.

Mar 07, 2023
Is the God of Revelation the Same as the God of Jesus?

In this episode we consider the portrayal of God in the book of Revelation. Is he a God of love who seeks what is best for those he created? Or at least for those who seek to obey him? Does the book of Revelation provide hope for those who are unjustly suffering now? Or is God instead portrayed as a God of wrath and vengeance who shows no mercy on his enemies? If so, is this the God of love and forgiveness preached by Jesus himself? Would Jesus recognize John of Patmos as one of his followers?

Feb 28, 2023
Is the Christ of Revelation Out for Blood?

It is surprising that many scholars say that Revelation is not a violent book and was never meant to be. In their judgment, the controlling image of the narrative is Christ as the innocent "lamb who was slain," a non-violent Son of God who experienced violence inflicted by others.

The book then teaches that non-violence is the way to eternal glory, and those who practice violence on earth will, in the end, experience what they themselves promote. Is that a plausible reading of the book?

In this episode I argue that in fact it is precisely wrong, and that Revelation explicitly portrays a violent Christ who wreaks blood vengeance. Is that the Christ of the Gospels?

Feb 21, 2023
The Book of Revelation and the End of the World: Are the Signs Now Being Fulfilled?

Does the Book of Revelation predict the end of the world? The book has been used repeatedly over the years and centuries to predict (and in some cases, re-predict) the end of the world. Yet here we still are. Maybe the problem is not that doomsday-readers of Revelation get this or that detail wrong (and so miscaluculate the date) but that book was never meant to be a blueprint for what would happen in our future. In this episode we look at how historians understand the book as a "revelation" meant for its own time, not as guidepost for what lies ahead of us now, 2000 years later.

Feb 14, 2023
The Gospel of Thomas. Bart Interviews Mark Goodacre on the most important account of Jesus' teachings outside the New Testament

One of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern time was a cache of Christian books that seem very strange indeed to anyone accustomed to the books of the New Testament -- including the most famous non-canonical Gospel of all, the Gospel of Thomas.

In this interview I discuss with New Testament scholar the intriguing characteristics of this book that claims to present the truth of Jesus' "secret teachings" that alone can bring eternal life.

Feb 07, 2023
Christians and Romans

Christianity started out as a tiny sect of Jewish followers of Jesus, but within 400 years it was the dominant religion of the Roman world and a major political force. It had a rough start, however; Romans did not accept this new movement with open arms. But was Christianity an illegal religion? Did the followers of Jesus have to hide in the catacombs? Did the emperors consider it a threat to the social order? In this episode we talk about the early reception of Christianity, in particular the persecutions, in order to explode many of the myths one hears about the new faith in its early days.

Jan 31, 2023
How Wild Can it Get? The Diversity of Early Christianity

You think Christianity is diverse today? Fundamentalists? Roman Catholics? Mormons? Methodists? Branch Davidians? Episcopalians? Russian Orthodox? And on and on?

In fact, the wide varieties of Christian today pale in comparison with what you could find in antiquity, with beliefs that virtually defy belief. How could people with views that seem so far beyond the pale (that there were many gods? That the Creator was evil? That Christ never died?) call themselves Christian and claim they were following the teachings of Jesus? That's what we discuss in today's podcast.

Jan 25, 2023
The Genius of the Gospel of Matthew

Most readers completely overlook Matthew's portrayal of Jesus as the Jewish Messiah who fulfills the Jewish Law AND insists that his followers do so as well. (What? Jesus' followers have to KEEP the Law of Moses?) But Matthew conveys the message loud and clear in some passages and with brilliant ingenuity in others, including some that are widely familiar but not widely understood. Think: the magi.

Jan 17, 2023
Am I Going to Hell? What the New Testament Says About Death and the Afterlife

If there is one thing most people are certain of about the Bible, it is that it describes how after people die they will be rewarded with heaven or tormented in hell. But does it? As it turns out ... well, you'll be surprised by what the Bible actually says. And once your surprise fades, you'll probably want to know: where do the Christian ideas of the afterlife come from?

Jan 10, 2023
How to Translate the Bible: Problems and Pitfalls

There are hundreds of Bible translations available – but why so many and why are they different? When a biblical scholar decides to do a translation, which manuscripts do they choose to use, how to they know what the ancient words meant, and do religious considerations get in the way of accurate translations. Are there places where no one can agree on what the original text says? Jennifer Knust is a prominent New Testament scholar who helped lead the committee that recently produced an updated edition of the New Revised Standard Version. Here she discusses with Bart the problems and pitfalls of biblical translation.

Jan 03, 2023
What is the King James Version?

What's wrong with the King James Version? Anything? Why don't we *all* use it? The KJV is the best known and arguably most elegant, aesthetically pleasing, and significant piece of English literature ever. But there are problems with it for anyone wanting to know what the biblical authors actually said. Some of the problems are today rather amusing, many are serious, and all are worth knowing about.

Dec 27, 2022
Can the New Testament Possibly Be True?

Many people say that the New Testament cannot be true because we don’t know exactly what the authors originally wrote, or because there are contradictions in it, or because some of the books were not written by their alleged authors, or because there are historical mistakes. But even if these things are true, does that mean the New Testament cannot be true – on some level?

Dec 20, 2022
The Coming Apocalypse! Jewish and Christian Views of the End of the World

Dive into the exciting belief of apocalypticism in ancient Jewish times. What is it? Why is it in the New Testament? And what was its purpose?

Dec 13, 2022
Must Women Keep Silent? What Were Jesus’ and Paul’s Actual Views of Women?

What does the New Testament actually say about women's roles in the early church?  Has the church acted consistently with the examples and guidelines offered in New Testament?

Dec 06, 2022
Historical Paul: What Scholars Actually Know About Paul's Life, Beliefs, and Personality

Special guest, Dr. James Tabor, offers a historical "revealing" of the apostle Paul.  Through careful examination of Paul's authentic or “undisputed” letters, his disputed or “Deutero-Pauline” epistles, and the book of Acts, Dr. Tabor peels back the layers to get to the historical Paul's life, beliefs, and personality.

Nov 29, 2022
The Gospel Truth: What Are the Gospels of the New Testament?

While our four gospels eventually were named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, did you know they're actually anonymously written? So, who actually wrote the gospels? And when were they written? Do we know where the writers were when they were written? And much more!

Nov 22, 2022
Faking It: Is the Bible Full of Forgeries?

What is considered forgery in ancient times? Do we find examples in the New Testament? And is it an acceptable practice to write in the name of someone else "for the greater good?"

Nov 15, 2022
Who Chose the Books of the New Testament?

There are 27 books in the New Testament Canon. How were they chosen?

We have other non-canonical gospels, epistles, and apocalypses that didn't make it in.

So why these 27? And why were the others left out?

For more information, visit https://www.bartehrman.com

Nov 08, 2022
Who Changed the Bible, and Why?

From simple misspelling mistakes to intentional changes, find out how the manuscripts of the New Testament got copied over the centuries and whether the copy mistakes affect any major Christian theology.

For more information, visit https://www.bartehrman.com

Nov 01, 2022
Bart and the Bible: What Made Bart Ehrman Change His View on Biblical Inerrancy

How Dr. Ehrman's view of the Bible changed after studying the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.

For more information, visit https://www.bartehrman.com

Nov 01, 2022
Announcing a New Podcast by Dr. Bart Ehrman!

In each new episode, my host Megan Lewis and I will discuss just about everything you can imagine about the New Testament and the early years of Christianity.

  • Issues connected with the historical Jesus
  • The mysterious book of Revelation
  • The non-canonical gospels
  • Early Christian groups such as the Gnostics

In the podcast, I'll explain New Testament and early Christian scholarship in layperson's terms so that you could learn what the issues are, see what the scholars have argued, and allow you then to make up your own mind.

Please follow the show on your favorite app so you don't miss out. You can also enjoy the show in video format by subscribing to my YouTube channel, which you can find by visiting bartehrman.com/youtube.

I hope you tune in!

Oct 18, 2022