Yesterday was the official release date of the dueling books – Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, and the response by a dream team of evangelical scholars (Michael Bird, Simon Gathercole, Craig Evans, Chris Tilling, and Charles Hill) – How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature – A Response to Bart Ehrman. See my initial post on Ehrman’s book here, and the response book here.
As the response book was stirring up buzz in the past few months, over and over again I heard two questions. “Did Zondervan arrange this as a marketing ploy?” “How in the world did the authors write a response to release the same day as Ehrman’s book?” Dr. Michael Bird, one of the contributors as well as the editor of the book, gave Emily Varner of Academic Publishing Services an inside look at the process:
Well, I was walking around the book stalls at SBL, and saw the poster for Bart Ehrman’s new book, How Jesus Became God. From the blurb, I reckon I had a pretty good idea as to what he was gonna say, and believed that a timely and thoughtful response should be made. And—to be honest—while I have a great respect for some of Ehrman’s works on textual criticism and early Christian history, I’m rather fed-up with the often extravagant and inflated claims that either he or his publicity team makes in his popular level books about Jesus, the Bible, and the early church. I’m weary of getting emails from some distraught undergrad who heard the latest overstated or unguarded remark that Ehrman or one of his acolytes are saying on the TV, web, or in print. So I wanted to put forward an alternative view to take him on and show that he’s not holding all the aces. So I approached a few friends whom I know to be eminent scholars but would share my interest (Simon Gathercole, Chris Tilling, Craig Evans, and Chuck Hill), and suggested we write a short response to Ehrman. My editor at Zondervan, Katya Covrett, who always has a mixture of curiosity and concern when I share new ideas with her, thought this crazy idea could work. HarperOne was gracious enough to give us a pre-pub copy of the book, which we read and reflected on immediately, we then wrote up our responses over Christmas, and the whole thing came together remarkably well.
See the whole interview at Bible Gateway.
And if you’re wondering what ZonderBird means, here it is.