Source: The Huffington Post
By Prof. Bart Ehrman
Written in support of the new book How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.
Jesus was a lower-class preacher from Galilee, who, in good apocalyptic fashion, proclaimed that the end of history as he knew it was going to come to a crashing end, within his own generation. God was soon to intervene in the course of worldly affairs to overthrow the forces of evil and set up a utopian kingdom on earth. And he would be the king.
It didn’t happen. Instead of being involved with the destruction of God’s enemies, Jesus was unceremoniously crushed by them: arrested, tried, humiliated, tortured, and publicly executed.
And yet, remarkably, soon afterwards his followers began to say that — despite all evidence to the contrary — Jesus really was the messiah sent from God. More than that, he was actually a divine being, not a mere human. And not just any divine being. He was the Creator of the universe. After long debates among themselves they decided that he was not secondary to the one God of Israel, the Lord God Almighty himself. On the contrary, he was fully equal with God; he had always existed for eternity with God; he was of the same essence as God; he was a member of the Trinity.
How did that happen? How did we get from a Jewish apocalyptic preacher — who ended up on the wrong side of the law and was crucified for his efforts — to the Creator of all things and All-powerful Lord? How did Jesus become God?
That’s the question I address in my book, and I think it’s an inordinately important one, not just for Christians who personally believe that Jesus really is God, but for all of us, whether believers or non-believers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists: all of us who are interested (as well we ought to be) in the history of Western Civilization. It is not hard to make the argument that if Jesus had never been declared God, our form of civilization would have been unalterably and indescribably different.