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From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity

Uncover the riveting story of the early formation of the Christian religion and learn how this faith grew from 20 followers to 2 billion.
From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity is rated 4.1 out of 5 by 123.
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Rated 1 out of 5 by from Very disappointed Ehrman has difficulty separating historical fact from his own theories. For example, he says the pagans converted to Christianity because they were told the Apostles performed miracles. It’s not that they found the life and message of Jesus compelling, no, it’s because the Apostles performed miracles. Don’t waste your time.
Date published: 2023-06-05
Rated 1 out of 5 by from This course is garbage I have always enjoyed the many Great Courses series that I have bought. This one was a waste of time and money. You don't want to believe in Jesus, that is fine, but instead of teaching the subject matter, Ehrman presents mere propaganda. So much of what he talks about has nothing to do the with actual history and more to do with his view point on what he personally believes. I will never get a course taught by him again.
Date published: 2023-02-09
Rated 1 out of 5 by from I won't buy Ehrman courses anymore. As other reviewers have pointed out, Ehrman is biased and his 'arguments?' are childish. The great disaster of the teaching company, why many people I know won't buy from them because of, is the joke and the poorly reasoned "The Historical Jesus'. It is prejudice wrapped as being a historical argument. When it comes to Christianity, I find the Teaching Company as being bias. Be careful and don't hesitate to send them back.
Date published: 2022-12-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Who are these " Scholars"? I had high hopes for this series, but Dr. Ehrman kept quoting "scholars" to disqualify the veracity of Scripture. His use of "contradictory" stories of the resurrection are easily answered, and his attacks of the authorship of the scriptures has more holes than Swiss Cheese. Dr. Ehrman doesn't even understand that the "end of the age" was referring to the Jewish temple age, which occurred in Jesus' generation , in AD 70. He then says that 30 years is too long a distance a time for NT writings to be accurate, but has no problem with Justin Martyr being the writer of those credited to him, which were 20-30 years. There are tons of books on the canonicity of scripture-I wish that Dr. Ehrman used facts and not presuppositions for this series
Date published: 2022-10-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very informative I enjoy the great courses and love the things I can learn. But most of them I can’t afford
Date published: 2022-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Sudden inconsistency! So far I have watched ten lectures and have hit a snag. Professor Ehrman says that adherents of Judaism were tolerant of pagan religions. Well, what about the Shema? “Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:4-5) the Old Testament is all about exclusivity. That’s what the Covenants were all about, that’s why the native pagan Canaanites had to be decimated for the God’s people to settle in those lands. How can Dr. Ehrman gloss over that blatant fact, unless he’s talking about the Jews at the time of Christ, and even then, I believe that the tolerance expressed to paganism was simply because they enjoyed the freedom to practice their own rituals, and were afraid to endanger that freedom.
Date published: 2022-07-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Never Have I understood so clearly I have to say that as listen more to the lectures by this excellent professor, I cannot get enough of his presentation. He is so clear and concise, I was really skeptic in the beginning, just thought he was another truth hater, but then I realized he was just presenting history as it is, and not theology. I feel that many of the contradiction in the Bible can be explained by simply seeing that people made up stuff as they developed an idea of god. I must say that I feel that to a great degree, these facts will never appear in any church Sunday school, Sunday Preaching nor certainly in Christian Seminaries. Which if taught, many will leave the Christian faith. I know that there is a God, but is he really revealed through Jesus? or is was Jesus exalted to being God like because the early believers some how felt they couldn't have believed in fain. "What is Truth?" P.Pilate asked, If you want to seek it, proceed in this course with caution, because you may feel you have been lied to for a very long time.
Date published: 2022-06-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Interesting discourse on evolution of Christianity The professor gave a very detailed discussion of the history of the origins of Christianity despite an almost total lack of historical evidence up to the and including the development of the gospels, etc. As he put it (in my words) "Historians have a problem with miracles. Not because they don't believe in miracles, but because they are miracles which require a much stronger need for factual historical evidence than non-miraculous facts. But what historians can say is that people believed in these miracles." He does a very good job explaining all the many opposing views in Judaism and Christianity and how the canon evolved through theology and all the involved political and religious entities. It was a very complex and unexpected path.
Date published: 2022-04-09
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The traditional form of Christianity we know today includes beliefs


Bart D. Ehrman

After his crucifixion, Jesus' disciples came to believe he'd been raised from the dead and made a divine being. What had seemed like defeat became for them the ultimate cosmic victory.


The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Dr. Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his undergraduate work at Wheaton College and earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary. Professor Ehrman has written or edited 27 books, including four best sellers on The New York Times list: Misquoting Jesus: The Story behind Who Changed the Bible and Why; God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer; Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know about Them);and Forged: Writing in the Name of God-Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. Professor Ehrman also served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, Southeastern Region; book review editor of the Journal of Biblical Literature; editor of the Scholars' Press monograph series The New Testament in the Greek Fathers;and coeditor-in-chief for the journal Vigiliae Christianae. Professor Ehrman received the John William Pope Center Spirit of Inquiry Award, the UNC Students' Undergraduate Teaching Award, the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by Young Faculty, and the Bowman and Gordon Gray Professorship (awarded for excellence in undergraduate teaching).

By This Professor

How Jesus Became God
The New Testament
Lost Christianities: Christian Scriptures and the Battles over Authentication
The Triumph of Christianity
The Birth of Christianity

01: The Birth of Christianity

This lecture introduces some issues essential to understanding how Christianity began, grew away from its Jewish roots, and ultimately became the most important religion of our civilization.

32 min
The Religious World of Early Christianity

02: The Religious World of Early Christianity

This lecture introduces the pagan, polytheistic religions that dominated the early world and the most important Roman religion for the birth of Christianity: Judaism, the religion of Jesus and his followers.

31 min
The Historical Jesus

03: The Historical Jesus

In the first of three lectures on the "birth" of Christianity, Professor Ehrman examines the life of Jesus of Nazareth, as referred to both outside the New Testament and within the Gospels themselves.

30 min
Oral and Written Traditions about Jesus

04: Oral and Written Traditions about Jesus

This lecture looks at how four anonymous authors who lived decades after Jesus recorded traditions that had been circulating orally over the intervening years, and examines the extent to which those traditions had been modified in the retelling.

31 min
The Apostle Paul

05: The Apostle Paul

Based on a visionary experience of the resurrected Jesus, a Jewish Pharisee converts to Christianity and begins an intense missionary experience to win over non-Jews to faith in Jesus.

31 min
The Beginning of Jewish-Christian Relations

06: The Beginning of Jewish-Christian Relations

In the first of three lectures dealing with the relationship of Jews and Christians in the ancient world, we consider how Christianity started as a sect within Judaism, yet quickly became a religion separate from Judaism.

30 min
The Anti-Jewish Use of the Old Testament

07: The Anti-Jewish Use of the Old Testament

How could most early Christians, who held on to the Jewish Scriptures as revelations from God, claim these Scriptures for their own when they did not follow many of the laws set forth in them? This lecture considers two key figures in the early Christian-Jewish debates.

31 min
The Rise of Christian Anti-Judaism

08: The Rise of Christian Anti-Judaism

This lecture explores the social and historical situations that led to the rejection of Judaism by many Christians in the centuries after Christ.

31 min
The Early Christian Mission

09: The Early Christian Mission

This is the first of two lectures specifically exploring how Christianity became, in only 300 years, a world religion that commanded the attention and, eventually, respect of the Roman society and government.

31 min
The Christianization of the Roman Empire

10: The Christianization of the Roman Empire

In this lecture, we will move into the periods of the Christian mission after Paul to see how far and how quickly the religion spread, the reasons for its success, and its ultimate reach to the upper echelons of the Roman government.

31 min
The Early Persecutions of the State

11: The Early Persecutions of the State

In the first of four lectures dealing with persecution and martyrdom in the early church, Professor Ehrman examines some graphic early accounts and considers why these persecutions took place and the Christian reaction to them.

30 min
The Causes of Christian Persecution

12: The Causes of Christian Persecution

This lecture provides a historical sketch of the course of persecution from the 1st to 3rd centuries, asking what motivated the two most common kinds of violence against Christians: grassroots persecutions and those ordered by the state.

30 min
Christian Reactions to Persecution

13: Christian Reactions to Persecution

Many early Christians recanted their faith in the face of persecution, but many others stayed faithful to what they believed.

30 min
The Early Christian Apologists

14: The Early Christian Apologists

This lecture examines the strategies of an elite group of Christian intellectuals who defended Christianity against the charges of atheism and immorality commonly leveled against them, focusing on the work of one of the most interesting of them, Athenagoras.

31 min
The Diversity of Early Christian Communities

15: The Diversity of Early Christian Communities

This is the first of four lectures that will consider the wide-ranging theological diversity of early Christianity and the internal conflicts that emerged as Christians tried to determine once and for all the "right" beliefs and practices.

31 min
Christianities of the Second Century

16: Christianities of the Second Century

Many groups of Christians in the 2nd century claimed to have the only true understanding of the faith, including three that are the focus of this lecture: Ebionites, Marcionites, and Gnostics.

31 min
The Role of Pseudepigrapha

17: The Role of Pseudepigrapha

This lecture considers several of the supporting—and usually forged—"sacred texts" possessed by the various groups of Christians arguing for their own version of the faith.

30 min
The Victory of the Proto-Orthodox

18: The Victory of the Proto-Orthodox

This lecture examines how the conflicts were waged between "heretical" forms of Christianity and the proto-orthodox Christians who eventually established themselves as dominant.

31 min
The New Testament Canon

19: The New Testament Canon

This is the first of five lectures devoted to the question of how traditional Christianity—with its canon of Scripture, creeds, liturgy, and church offices—emerged out of the conflicts of the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

30 min
The Development of Church Offices

20: The Development of Church Offices

This lecture considers the movement from the charismatic organization of the early churches founded by Paul to the official church hierarchy in place by the end of the 4th century, with its elders, deacons, priests, and bishops.

30 min
The Rise of Christian Liturgy

21: The Rise of Christian Liturgy

This is an in-depth look at how Christian liturgical practices arose, particularly those that became virtually universal throughout the church: baptism and the Eucharist.

30 min
The Beginnings of Normative Theology

22: The Beginnings of Normative Theology

This lecture considers the development of a normative theology among the proto-orthodox, who insisted that believing the "right" things was essential for salvation and who took care, therefore, to formulate correct doctrine and differentiate it from false doctrine.

31 min
The Doctrine of the Trinity

23: The Doctrine of the Trinity

This lecture considers the most distinctive theological development of early Christianity, the doctrine of the Trinity: God exists in three entities—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—who are equal and distinct but make up one God.

30 min
Christianity and the Conquest of Empire

24: Christianity and the Conquest of Empire

This concluding lecture considers the character of Christianity at the beginning of the 4th century and its enormous consequences for the history of Western civilization.

30 min