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While Bird disagrees with Ehrman’s titular presuppositions (Jesus became God in the minds of His followers), he acknowledges that the question as to when, where and how Christians became to see Jesus as divine is is focused on responding to Ehrman’s individual chapters.Rather than summarising each chapter’s responses to Ehrman, which I have done in my series Ehrman’s Christology War, I want to give some big-picture overall thoughts on the book.
However, when I first heard of the book and the contributors involved I had high hopes for more for a standalone positive case, and less of a narrow response to Ehrman. While it functions well as a critique of Ehrman’s it could have been so much more if it broadened its horizons a little.
With such a stellar lineup tackling a hugely important topic in an accessible way, this had the potential to have a unique and lasting place as a popular introduction to Christology and alternative to Ehrman’s approach.
What’s even more striking, these authors had very little time to prepare their responses.
The responses to Ehrman and positive argumentation in the individual chapters vary in strength, but are largely effective.
These men are all reputable scholars who are most likely used to teaching seminary audiences with plenty of time for numerous lectures and large amounts of supplemental reading to go with it; however, they have come together here to write a popular level book at just over 200 pages.
Restraint and care must have been put into making this work accessible.
Therefore, a massive, fundamental rethinking about the Gospels is overdue.
And here is his antidote: While the creeds were “focused on Jesus being God,” the “Gospels were all about God becoming king” (20).
We know Jesus was born of a virgin and that he died on the cross and rose from the grave. What does the life of Jesus have to do with anything? “I have had the increasing impression, over many years now, that most of the Western Christian tradition has simply forgotten what the Gospels are all about” (vii). According to Wright, the early church creeds and the early church fathers are to blame for having failed to say anything about the life of Jesus.
Wright, Christians have neglected all that stuff in the middle (the “missing middle” as he likes to call it).