Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has taught since 1988. Professor Ehrman has written or edited thirty-two books in the fields of New Testament and early Christianity, including six New York Times Bestsellers. He has also recorded eight lecture courses for The Great Courses (The Teaching Company). More than two million copies of his books and courses have been sold, and his books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XXII, November 22 – 24, 2019
Guided Tours of Heaven and Hell
A number of remarkable Greek, Roman, Jewish, and Christian writings describe journeys of the living to observe the realms of the dead. This talk will explore how these strange visions embody different ancient conceptions of the afterlife, including the earliest Christian understandings of the glories of heaven and the torments of hell.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XXI, November 16 – 18, 2018
Heaven and Hell: The Invention of the Afterlife
A recent Pew Research showed that 72% of Americans believe in a literal heaven, 58% in a literal hell. The common view is that when a person dies their soul goes to one place or the other, for eternal joy or torment. But this view is not found in the Old Testament and it is not what Jesus taught. So where did it come from? This lecture will try to explain how later Christians “invented” heaven and hell.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XX, November 17 – 19, 2017
Paul as the Ultimate Fulfilment of God’s Eternal Plan: The Apostle’s View of Himself
At his conversion, Paul came to understand that from the very beginning God had planned the coming of the messiah Jesus, the events of his death and resurrection, and the turning of all nations to receive the gospel. And through whom did God, from eternity past, intend to convert the nations? Paul himself. In this talk I will argue that Paul believed he was personally fore-ordained to fulfill God’s plan for the human race, as proclaimed by the prophets of the Hebrew Bible.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIX, November 18 – 20, 2016
Paul as God’s Final Messenger
When Paul came to believe he had been called by God as the apostle to the Gentiles (Galatians 1:15-16), he did not merely think he had been given an important task. On the contrary, he came to believe his life and ministry had been predicted centuries earlier by Hebrew seers looking forward to his day — such as the prophet Isaiah, who had declared: “I will give you as a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). Paul appears to have understood that the entire history of salvation was meant to be filled in his own, personal, divinely inspired mission. In this lecture we will examine how he came to such a view.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVIII, November 20 – 22, 2015
Did the Early Christians Forget Jesus?
Scholars of memory – from such fields as psychology, sociology, and anthropology – have long known that we not only forget things (all the time), we also misremember them or even invent them in our heads. How does that apply to the memories of Jesus among his early followers before the Gospels were written? Did the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ life sometimes forget what he said and did? Did they misremember? And when they told stories about him, did the people who heard the stories – and the people to whom those people told the stories, and the people to whom those other people told the stories – alter the memories? Did they sometimes, or often, invent false memories?
Seminar at Sea, January 18 – 25, 2015
Professor Bart Ehrman’s Lecture Series: “How Jesus Became God”
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVII, November 21 – 23, 2014
Are the Gospels Based on Eyewitness Testimony?
Scholars today widely concede that the New Testament Gospels were not really written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. But are these accounts ultimately based on eyewitness testimonies to the life of Jesus? And if they are, does that guarantee their basic historical accuracy? Only rarely have New Testament specialists considered what scholars in other fields (cognitive psychology, folklore, anthropology, and so on) have demonstrated about eyewitness testimony, faulty and frail memories, oral cultures, and the character of rumors and legends that circulate (still today) about people in the news. This lecture will examine the traditions that lie behind our earliest Gospels to determine whether we can trust their accounts of Jesus’ words and deeds.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XVI, November 22 – 24, 2013
The Strange Re-appearance of the Gospel of Peter
Scholars knew about the existence of a Gospel of Peter from the writings of the church father Eusebius, but the text — or rather, part of it — was discovered only in modern times. When it did reappear, it was in unexpected and sometimes peculiar places. Ten pages were discovered in a tomb, allegedly that of a monk, in Akhmim Egypt. Another fragment was uncovered in a trash heap in Oxyrhynchus, Egypt and it appears to be alluded to on an ostraca with a stick-figure drawing of Peter himself. This presentation examines what we can learn about the Gospel of Peter from these various discoveries.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XV, November 16 – 18, 2012
Jesus and the Other Divine Men
Jesus was not the only person considered the Son of God in the ancient world. Other “divine men” were also said to have been born miraculously, to have healed the sick, fed the multitudes, cast out demons, and raised the dead, and who at the end of their lives were thought to have ascended to the heavenly realm to live forever. Why do we never hear of these others? And was Jesus the real thing, whereas all these others were frauds and impostors? In this lecture we will consider some of the other Sons of God, and examine the ways in which Jesus was allegedly different.
ASOR/BAS Seminar on Biblical Archaeology, October 5 – 7, 2012
Who Invented Christianity?
Some of Christianity’s most important doctrines—the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, the doctrine of heaven and hell—were not found on the lips of Jesus or his earliest followers. They instead represent later developments, as Christianity moved out into the world and changed its overarching emphases. This lecture considers where these doctrines came from, as Jesus’ later followers modified his teachings and invented what we today think of as Christianity.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIV, November 18 – 20, 2011
Who Killed Jesus? Pontius Pilate and “The Jews”
Both within the New Testament and in later Christian gospels, writings that describe the death of Jesus increasingly declare Pilate innocent of the whole proceeding. The logic of this exoneration gives rise to an obvious question: If Pilate is not guilty for condemning an innocent Jesus to death, then who is? The early Christian answer? “The Jews.” This lecture will examine these ongoing attempts to exculpate Pilate and inculpate the Jews in the death of Jesus, paying particular attention to non-canonical gospels, some of which declared that Pilate eventually became a Christian convert and martyr.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XIII, November 19 – 21, 2010
Pseudepigraphy or Forgery? Was It Acceptable to Write in Someone Else’s Name in Antiquity?
A number of pseudepigraphic works survive from Jewish and Christian antiquity. The Hebrew Bible contains at least two instances (Daniel and Ecclesiastes); the New Testament has many more (the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, etc.). In each of these examples, an author falsely claims to be a famous person. Some scholars have argued that this was an acceptable practice in the ancient world, and that such books should not be tarnished with the term “forgeries.” Is this true? Or did the ancients themselves consider such books to be deceitful lies? This presentation will consider what ancient authors said about books written under a false name and about the people who wrote them.
Bible & Archaeology Fest XII, November 20 – 22, 2009
Early Christian Counter Forgeries
Scholars have long known that a number of the earliest Christian writings are “forgeries”—books written by unknown authors claiming to be someone famous (e.g., one of the apostles). What is less known is that some of these forgeries were written to counter other books that were also forgeries. This talk will look at two such “counter-forgeries”—one that made it into the canon of Scripture (the first-century book of “James”) and one that did not (the second-century “Letter of Peter”).