Scholars have made significant progress in understanding the Bible over the past two hundred years and the results of their study are regularly and routinely taught both to graduate students in universities and to prospective pastors attending seminaries in preparation for the ministry. Yest such views of the Bible are virtually unknown among the population at large. As a result, not only are most Americans ignorant of the contents of the Bible, but they are also almost completely in the dark about what scholars have been saying about the Bible for the past two centuries.
A Historical Assault on Faith
Because of the influence the Bible has had on Western Civilization we should all use the historical-critical approach in order to understand it better. There are serious discrepancies in the Bible that can not be explained away, unless we acknowledge that each author of the Bible lived in his own time and place, had a set of cultural and religious assumptions that we do not necessarily share and has their own story to tell that doesn't always match the stories the other authors of the Bible choose to tell. The big question is why do pastors who have learned the historical-critical method seem to forget about it once they reach the pulpit. I know in my pastors case he was afraid the information might cause the congregation to question their faith.
A World of Contradictions
Ehrman shows the contradiction between when Mark said Jesus died (Friday morning) and when John said Jesus died (Thursday afternoon). And reasons that John changed a historical datum in order to make a theological point: Jesus is the sacrificial lamb.
Discrepancies in the Accounts of Jesus' Birth and Life
Ehrman goes on to show the discrepancies in the stories of Jesus' birth as well as in the family tree of Jesus. He also mentions the fact the Bible makes TWO contradictory claims the Mary was a VIRGIN and that Jesus was descended from David through JOSEPH. Other contradictions are discussed but the key points are; the discrepancies prove the Bible is not 100% correct, it is important to let each author speak for himself, and the discrepancies that involve historical narratives make it difficult to establish what really happened.
Ehrman discusses the various views that were popular at the time. Points out that the earliest followers of Jesus did NOT consider him divine and produces scholarly evidence to back up his claims. All in all I found this to be a very interesting book although some of the material covered was also discussed in his earlier books. I encourage anyone interested in theology to read this book.