Bart Ehrman, author of the highly popular books Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code, Lost Christianities, and the New York Times bestseller Misquoting Jesus, here takes readers on another engaging tour of the early Christian church, illuminating the lives of Jesus' most intriguing followers: Simon Peter, the Apostle Paul, and Mary Magdalene.
What does the Bible tell us about each of these key followers of Christ? What legends have sprung up about them in the centuries after their deaths? Was Paul bow-legged and bald? Was Peter crucified upside down? Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute?
In this lively work, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, presenting complicated historical issues in a clear and informative way and relating vivid anecdotes culled from the traditions of these three followers. He notes, for instance, that there is no evidence to suggest that Mary Magdalene was a prostitute (this legend can be traced to a sermon preached by Gregory the Great five centuries after her death), and little reason to think that she was married to Jesus. Similarly, there is no historical evidence for the well-known tale that Peter was crucified upside down.
A serious book but vibrantly written and leavened with many colorful stories, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene will appeal to anyone curious about the early Christian church and the lives of these important figures.
Table of contents:
I. Simon Peter
1: The Historical Peter
2: The Apocryphal Peter
II. The Apostle Paul
3: The Historical Paul
4: The Apocryphal Paul
III. Mary Magdalene
5: The Historical Mary
6: The Apocryphal Mary
Bart D. Ehrman is the author of more than twenty books, including the New York Times bestselling Misquoting Jesus and God's Problem. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and is a leading authority on the Bible and the life of Jesus. He has been featured in Time and has appeared on Dateline NBC, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, CNN, the History Channel, major NPR shows, and other top media outlets. He lives in Durham, N.C.
An informed but breezy look at the myths surrounding Jesus' most influential followers.... This book contains valuable historical scholarship. It also encourages readers to approach the Scriptures with fresh and enlightened eyes.
- Christian Science Monitor
With penetrating insight, backed up by first class scholarship and communicated in comprehensible English, Bart Ehrman examines in a new light the interpretive process that gathered around Jesus and his followers both before and after the gospels were written. In so doing he opens new wide vistas into the origins of Christianity and sets the stage for a dramatic rethinking of the Christian creeds. It is a terrific book for open minds seeking truth in ancient religious formulas, but a frightening book for those who think they already possess infallible or inert truth.
- John Shelby Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Terrible Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love, and Bishop, The Episcopal Church
Bart Ehrman has done it again! He has marvelously succeeded in producing a riveting but historically credible account of three of the most important early followers of Jesus, shedding important new light on the very foundations of early Christianity. Ehrman is a master at telling his story, at separating fact from fiction, and carefully weighing all the evidence. He has done more than any scholar of our time to share the fascinating results of responsible historical investigations with the wider public.
- James D. Tabor, author of The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
Drawing widely from history, scripture and extra-biblical writings, he studies the many stories of the lives of the first-century 'Peter, Paul and Mary, ' arguing that inclusion of some accounts in the canon should not elevate these texts above the others, some of which were accepted early on by the church but later excluded from the canon. As with his other works, Ehrman presents his case clearly and succinctly.
- Publishers Weekly
Provides intriguing information on these New Testament personages. One will read accounts, for instance, in which Peter brings a smoked tuna back to life and in which Mary Magdalene travels to France to become an early missionary. Both stories are fictional but, Ehrman emphasizes, help show something of the ideas present in the early church period.
- Library Journal
Bart Ehrman offers a startlingly fresh look at three of the prime early followers of Jesus-startling in its emperor's-new-clothes intelligence and Ehrman's envigorating dare for his readers to confront him with the fact that he's often skating merrily on thin ice, but ice all the same. I read him always with addictive pleasure in his brilliance and his generous-hearted eagerness to tell us all he knows, which is very much indeed.
- Reynolds Price, author of The Good Priest's Son: A Novel, A Serious Way or Wondering: The Ethics of Jesus Imagined, and Kate Vaiden