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Publisher's Summary

Step back to Christianity's first three centuries to see how it transitioned from the religion of Jesus to a religion about Jesus. How did a single group from among many win the struggle for dominance to establish the beliefs central to the faith, rewrite the history of Christianity's internal conflicts, and produce a canon of sacred texts – the New Testament – that supported its own views?

These 24 lectures provide a fresh and provocative perspective on how a movement of perhaps only 20 lower-class followers of a Jewish apocalyptic preacher crucified as an enemy of the state grew to include nearly four million adherents in only 300 years. Professor Ehrman looks at the faith's beginnings, starting with the historical Jesus, Jewish-Christian relations, the way Paul and other Christians spread the new faith, hostility to the Christian mission, internal struggles within the faith, and the formation of traditional Christianity as we know it today.

Christianity argued its ancient roots by retaining the Jewish scriptures and arguing that it was, in fact, the fulfillment of what those scriptures had promised. Throughout these lectures, Professor Ehrman challenges old misconceptions and offers fresh perspectives on aspects of Christianity and its roots that many of us might have thought we already understood. By offering you a scholar's perspective on the origins of what Professor Ehrman describes as the most important institution in Western civilization, this engaging course will increase your understanding of Christianity today.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses

What listeners say about From Jesus to Constantine: A History of Early Christianity

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Excellent Work

Bart is an excellent speaker and he outlines the story in a logical, progressive and interesting fashion. He fails to dig a big deeper on some points I think are important. The persecutions didn’t begin until he took Galerius as his Co-Emperor. Many think that he was the one truly behind the persecutions of the Tetrarchy. He also fails to get in to the fierceness of the differences in Christianity during Constantine’s time, and that Constantine changed sides on which vision of Christianity he agreed with.

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Another great series from Dr. Ehrman

Very engaging. This man knows how to command your attention. A great tour through a poorly understood subject.

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Very interesting

Great speaker. Subject is fun to listen to. Probably my favourite great course lecture so far. I’m agnostic but I find the history of the influences that led to my catholic upbringing interesting .

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  • Carl D. Smith
  • 2017-03-29

Wonderful survey of historical Christianity

As always Ehrman tells a level and factual account of the appearance and development of Christianity. Well researched and fair to believer and skeptic alike. As objective of a history one could hope to find. Engaging presentation and never dry.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Wurm
  • 2013-09-18

An Objective History of Early Christianity

This course is not a devotional course. It is not intended necessarily for Christians, but for those who are interested in the history of Christianity. This is not Christianity from a theological perspective. In other words, this is education. It is not a course on faith.

Professor Ehrman is an erudite scholar on the Bible and the history of Christianity. If you wish to receive an objective education on the subject, this course is appropriate for you.

66 people found this helpful

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  • CC
  • 2017-07-12

Exactly what I wanted

An unadulterated history of early Christianity. Prof Ehrman really knows his stuff. Highly recommend if you are looking for truth in the historical sense.

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  • Philip
  • 2021-08-15

Ehrman hopes you don't listen.

Legit listened hoping to get a scholarly perspective on the time period, someone to give just the facts and no opinions.

Ehrman: Jesus and Paul where poor, jailed and murdered.
Jesus and Paul: taught against being wealthy
Early Christians: sold homes to pay off each other's debts, overwhelming poor.
Ehrman's conclusion: Christianity spread because Romans thought God would make their material lives better.

Lolz okay

Ehrman: The gospels have issues, we don't know who wrote them, Jesus was dead 30 years when they where written. They're as accurate as kids playing telephone.
Me: I didn't know that!
Ehrman later: We think the gospels pulled from an original source "Q".
Me: Wait that means there was a source within 30 years of Jesus' death. Wouldn't that be pretty accurate, possibly written by the disciples who knew Jesus?
Ehrman: Moving on!
Also also Ehrman: The never canonized gospel of Thomas! Jesus had a twin! I'm not going to question it's authority, authorship or tell you when it was written! When it was written: 100-110 or 250 AD, scholars disagree.

This happens over and over again.

Anyone got something better than Bart?

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  • Joel Trammell
  • 2019-05-11

Entertaining and Educational Story

Ehrman gives an excellent overview of early Christianity and the many differences that existed in the early Church.

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  • Vincent M. Maysee
  • 2018-05-16

excellent lectures!

Dr. Ehrman is an engaging intellect who states his case clearly and succinctly. I have read his books and have seen him interviewed on occasion. Early Christianity is a subject I am currently interested in and have been for some time. I highly recommend this!

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  • Galvestonian
  • 2016-03-20

Bart Ehrman Does it Again!

This was impossible to put down. I listened to almost the entire lecture in one sitting. Lots of substance. Of course, what else can you expect from the great Dr. Ehrman?

4 people found this helpful

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  • Tad Davis
  • 2015-01-16

Ideas, not people

Bart Ehrman is spot on as usual. The advantage of listening to his lectures rather than to someone else narrating his book is hearing the author's own voice. Ehrman is enthusiastic and engaging; he sounds like he's speaking off the cuff rather than reading a script; and he's able to present complex material in a clear and systematic way. It's important to note, however, that this lecture series is a history of early Christian IDEAS rather than early Christian people. There are a number of people discussed, of course - people like Tertullian, Ignatius, and Origen - but the lectures are far more topical than chronological.

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  • iamelgringo
  • 2021-11-11

I profoundly disagree with the professor

The professor clearly has an ax to grind with Orthodox Christiany, and he's pretty adamant on communicating a history that's fairly anti Christian in taking about the early Church Fathers.

He goes on about apparent contradictions in the New Testament, which are actually quite minor. ( like apparent contradictions in how Judas liked himself ).

He argues that the Synoptic gospels don't state that Jesus was Divine.

And, he argues that theologies and ideologies that Christian Churches have declared heresies for close to two thousand years were valid alternative versions of Christianity and that Orthodox Christianity was simply the Roman version of Christianity that 'won' because they were richer and more powerful than alternative versions ( which were declared heresy )

If you're looking for some type of insight into Christianity from the early Church Fathers... this isn't it.


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  • Vickie
  • 2019-05-06

Received and Reassured

Dr Bart is a treasure of knowledge. He can deliver details of the chosen historical segment like he was in your living room giving an enthusiastic account of a favorite topic of conversation. I have listened to him before and will again.

2 people found this helpful