24 Video lectures: The Great Courses: How Jesus Became God?

Image (2) Trinity-e1414216330179.jpg for post 164914
Holy Trinity, fresco by Luca Rossetti da Orta, 1738–9 (St. Gaudenzio Church at Ivrea). The Muslim Times has the best collection for rational understanding of Christianity

Source: The Teaching Company

24 lectures: Year Released: 2014

The early Christian claim that Jesus of Nazareth was God completely changed the course of Western civilization. In fact, without the Christian declaration of Jesus as God, Western history as we know it would have never happened.

By Dr. Bart D. Ehrman, who 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

If Jesus had not been declared God, his followers would have remained a sect within Judaism, and the massive conversion of Gentiles, the Roman adoption of Christianity, and the subsequent unfolding of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and modernity would never have taken place. For that reason, the question of how Jesus became God is one of the most significant historical questions of Western civilization.

This world-shaping occurrence, viewed historically, was monumentally unlikely. Within Judaism, there could be no question that Jesus was not the Messiah, who was envisioned as a powerful warrior-king. Jesus’s own followers, in fact, did not conceive of him as divine during his lifetime. His crucifixion, ignominious and degrading, ended his life in a way reserved for the lowliest criminals.

And yet—within a short time after his death, this crucified “enemy of Rome” was named the Son of God and the savior of humanity, and within four centuries he was believed by millions to be coequal and coeternal with God the Father.

How could something this unforeseeable, this improbable, have occurred at all—much less with a momentum that would shape Western history? What exactly happened, such that Jesus came to be considered God?

To ask this question is to delve into a fascinating, multilayered historical puzzle—one that offers a richly illuminating look into the origins of the Western worldview and the theological underpinnings of our civilization. This fundamental historical question and its complex answer speak penetratingly to the spiritual impulses, concerns, and beliefs that have played a seminal role in our world, even as they reveal the foundation of history’s most global religious movement, and fresh insights into the Western world’s single most influential human being.

Tackling all of these matters and more, Great Courses favorite Professor Bart D. Ehrman returns with the unprecedented historical inquiry of How Jesus Became God. In 24 provocative lectures, Professor Ehrman takes you deeply into the process by which the divinity of Jesus was first conceived by his followers, demonstrating how this conception was refined over time to become the core of the Christian theology that has so significantly shaped our civilization.

A distinguished scholar of Christianity and New York Times best-selling author, Professor Ehrman develops the inquiry with meticulous research and in-depth analysis of texts. In these lectures, Ehrman reveals that the theological understanding of Jesus as God came about through a complex series of factors and events, each of which must be understood in order to grasp this most extraordinary and historically pivotal story.

Intersections: The Human and the Divine

In assembling the pieces of the course’s extraordinary narrative, you’ll explore the historical background of ancient understandings of the divine. Here you discover that Jesus’s ascension as an object of faith was fundamentally underlain by ancient beliefs in interpenetration between the human and divine worlds.

You’ll dig deeply into human/divine intersections in Greco-Roman religions, as well as in ancient Judaism, finding that

  • The ancient world was suffused with accounts of divine mortals—gods who took on human form as well as humans who were exalted to divine status.
  • Greco-Roman cultures considered certain actual historical persons to have been born of the sexual union of gods and mortals, and earthly pagan rulers were at times worshipped as gods.
  • In the Hebrew scriptures, God and the Holy Spirit both appear on earth in human form, and the human Enoch, among others, is elevated to become a divine being.

Divinity and the Historical Jesus

As another integral element of the story, you’ll investigate what the historical Jesus said or indicated about himself, digging into these questions:

  • What were the elements of Jesus’s teaching with regard to his own role in the world?
  • Did Jesus view himself as divine?

You’ll look into these matters rigorously, reading key passages from the four canonical Gospels to determine whether, historically, Jesus’s public message proclaimed him as divine. You’ll also evaluate whether Jesus’s earthly actions—including accounts of miracles he performed—would have qualified him as divine in the eyes of his contemporaries.

You’ll study the circumstances surrounding Jesus’s death and burial, exploring exactly how early Christians came to believe he was raised from the dead. By examining the “pre-literary” Christian creeds quoted in the New Testament, you’ll uncover the disciples’ original conception that, at his resurrection, Jesus was “made” a divine being by God.

The Son of God Eternal

With the conception of Jesus as divine now established, you’ll enter the minefield of opposing views that developed as early Christians sought to understand how Jesus could be the Son of God. In excerpts from the New Testament Gospels, you’ll identify conflicting notions of when Jesus became the divine Son, following how Christian thinkers began to push this event further and further back into history.

Within the developing faith, you’ll investigate the range of views of Jesus’s divinity that held sway during the 2nd and 3rd centuries. You’ll study the beliefs and implications of radically different schools of thought, such as

  • the “docetists”, who held that Jesus was fully divine and only seemed human;
  • the Gnostic view that the divine Christ was a god who temporarily “inhabited” the human Jesus; and
  • the “modalist” conception that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are three modes of a single being.

The Trinity and the Divine Christ

In the culmination of the course, you’ll trace the development of the Trinity, the theological doctrine at the heart of Christian orthodoxy. Through close reading of biblical texts, you’ll observe how the conception of the Holy Spirit came into being, and you’ll learn how third-century theologians such as Hippolytus and Tertullian arrived at the singular paradox of the Trinity: that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are each individually God—yet there is only one God.

The concluding lectures bring alive the fiercely contested Arian controversy, which pitted the view that Jesus was a subordinate deity created by God the Father against the contention that he was coeternal and fully equal with God. Flowing from this debate, you’ll study the historic events of the famous Council of Nicea, called in 325 CE by the Roman Emperor Constantine to resolve the matter of the divine nature of Christ. You’ll learn how the edicts of the Council formally established the view of Jesus that has defined the Christian faith to the present day.

In the enthralling inquiry of How Jesus Became God, Professor Ehrman lays bare the diverse elements that combined to produce both an astonishing true-life story and one of history’s most significant happenings. Join a renowned biblical scholar in grappling with this pivot point of Western civilization that has indelibly shaped our culture, our thought, and the world we know.

24 lectures: Year Released: 2014

  • 1
    Jesus – The Man Who Became God
    First, consider the huge historical significance of the Christian belief in Jesus’s divinity, in terms of its effects on Western civilization as well as today’s world. Learn about different scholarly views of the historical Jesus, and trace the remarkable diversity of early Christian thought regarding Christian identity, scripture, and theological understandings of Jesus. x
  • 2
    Greco-Roman Gods Who Became Human
    In the ancient world, there were many accounts of “divine” mortals. Track this phenomenon in the Greco-Roman polytheistic religions, noting the overlap between the human and divine worlds. Explore three ancient models of divine men, in both mythology and Christian scripture, as gods take on human form and humans enter the heavenly realm. x
  • 3
    Humans as Gods in the Greco-Roman World
    Delve further into the interface between the human and the divine in pagan cultures. Examine narratives describing people born of the sexual union of gods with mortals, highlighting examples such as Alexander the Great. In the Roman and Egyptian worlds, look at cases of humans who were exalted to the status of gods. x
  • 4
    Gods Who Were Human in Ancient Judaism
    Here, discover accounts of divine humans and other godlike beings within ancient Judaism. In Genesis and Exodus, explore conceptions of divine beings that appear in human form. In other Jewish texts, study narratives of humans who become angelic beings, as well as stories of the offspring of angels and humans. x
  • 5
    Ancient Jews Who Were Gods
    In ancient Judaism, beings other than the one true God could be considered to be or even called God. Learn about the divine figure of the Son of Man, and the Jewish conception of a “second God”. Observe how divine attributes of God were personified, and how humans such as the kings of Israel were deified. x
  • 6
    The Life and Teachings of Jesus
    In approaching the historical Jesus, consider why the New Testament Gospels are the only useful early sources on his life, and study the criteria used by scholars for evaluating the Gospels as history. Then investigate Jesus’s apocalyptic worldview, which envisioned the imminent end of history and a coming kingdom of God. x
  • 7
    Did Jesus Think He Was God?
    This lecture explores what Jesus said about himself, as well as what he specifically preached. Grasp the nature and purpose of Jesus’s ethical teachings, and his view of himself as a prophet of the coming kingdom. Study the Jewish conception of the Messiah as a warrior-king who would overthrow the enemies of Israel. x
  • 8
    The Death of Jesus – Historical Certainties
    Regarding Jesus’s final days, review the events that we know about with relative certainty. Learn about his reasons for being in Jerusalem, and the political tensions surrounding the Passover celebration there. Consider what led to his arrest, the nature of the charges against him, and what we can infer about his trial. x
  • 9
    Jesus’s Death – What Historians Can’t Know
    Look now at events surrounding Jesus’s death that we cannot know about with certainty. Assess the plausibility of the Gospels’ accounts of his arrival in Jerusalem, the date of his crucifixion, and the matter of his burial. Grasp how Christian writers made changes in the accounts of his death to serve theological ends. x
  • 10
    The Resurrection – What Historians Can’t Know
    Jesus’s resurrection stands as the basis for the entire Christian faith. But what can we know historically about the resurrection? Here, dig deeply into the question of what historians can and cannot demonstrate about the past, and consider aspects of the stories of Jesus’s resurrection that are historically doubtful or unknowable. x
  • 11
    What History Reveals about the Resurrection
    What was it that caused Jesus’s followers to believe he had been raised from the dead? Investigate the disciples’ visions of Jesus, alive again after his death, as reflected in Paul and the Gospels. Learn also about the tradition of doubt in the resurrection, and the meaning to early Christians of being resurrected. x
  • 12
    The Disciples’ Visions of Jesus
    In exploring the first claims about Jesus’s resurrection, this lecture discusses the phenomenon of visionary experience as understood by modern researchers. Learn about the variety of religious and bereavement visions people experience, and the ways in which the disciples’ visions and beliefs about Jesus combined to impact their conception of him as divine. x
  • 13
    Jesus’s Exaltation – Earliest Christian Views
    What did the earliest Christians believe about Jesus’s divinity? Delve into Romans and Acts for what they may tell us about early Christian thought, identifying the “pre-literary” creeds they quote from. Observe how these creeds indicate a view that Jesus was adopted as the Son of God precisely upon his resurrection. x
  • 14
    The Backward Movement of Christology
    Over time, Christian thought pushed the origin of Jesus’s divinity further and further back in history. Trace this development by looking at views of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels. Focus on the Gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, noting their differing versions of when Jesus became the Son of God. x
  • 15
    Paul’s View – Christ’s Elevated Divinity
    Paul’s theology represents a transition between early conceptions of Christ as exalted by God upon his death and later views of his innate or eternal divinity. Trace Paul’s seminal role within the early church, and his view of Jesus as a divine being whose actions raised him to a higher level of divinity. x
  • 16
    John’s View – The Word Made Human
    The Gospel of John differs significantly from the other three canonical Gospels in its conception of Jesus. Investigate John’s contention that Jesus had always been the Son of God and the equal of God the Father. Contemplate John’s identification of Christ as the embodiment of the word of God, or “logos”. x
  • 17
    Was Christ Human? The Docetic View
    In the second and third centuries, Christian groups followed radically different beliefs and theologies. Learn about the “docetists”, who believed Jesus was not human, but only appeared to be so, highlighting Marcion, a docetist who conceived of two distinct gods—a God of the Jews and a God of Jesus. x
  • 18
    The Divided Christ of the Separationists
    Among early Christian groups, the Gnostics demonstrate yet another view of the divinity of Jesus. Explore the fundamental tenets of Gnosticism, with its notion of secret knowledge as the source of salvation. Discover the Gnostic “separationist” view of Christ, according to which the divine Christ inhabited, temporarily, the human Jesus. x
  • 19
    Christ’s Dual Nature – Proto-Orthodoxy
    By the fourth century, the theological understanding known as “orthodoxy” became predominant. Investigate the relationship between orthodoxy and “heresy”, or conflicting conceptions of the faith, and evidence that orthodoxy was not the original form of Christianity. Learn about early “proto-orthodox” writers, and their contention that Jesus was both fully God and fully human. x
  • 20
    The Birth of the Trinity
    The doctrine of the Trinity asserts that God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are all individually God. Look into the origins of this mysterious claim, noting that the Trinity appears nowhere in the Bible. Learn about the conception of “modalism”, which proposed that the three are manifestations of one being, and modalism’s opponents. x
  • 21
    The Arian Controversy
    In the third century, sharp divisions existed between Christians, involving how to explain the relation of God the Father to Christ and the Holy Spirit. Examine the proto-orthodox thought of Novatian, and learn about the “Arian controversy” stemming from the highly divisive view of Christ as a subordinate deity created by God. x
  • 22
    The Conversion of Constantine
    The Christian conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine was a momentous turning point for the faith. Learn about the relationship of the Roman Empire to early Christianity, and the specific reasons why Christians were persecuted by Rome. Grasp Constantine’s motives for converting to Christianity and for becoming directly involved in theological controversies. x
  • 23
    The Council of Nicea
    Constantine called the famous Council of Nicea in 325 CE, to resolve the conflicting views of Christ’s divinity. Examine the theological issues at stake, pitting the Christological views of Arius against those of Alexander of Alexandria. Contemplate the political implications of the outcome, and the resulting orthodox creed, establishing Jesus fully as God. x
  • 24
    Once Jesus Became God


40 replies

  1. Wonderful course by Prof. Bart Ehrman to know about Trinity and rest of Christian theology and how and why it differs from Judaism and Islam.

  2. @Professor Ehrman:: JC ‘became’ the scriptures (God) because he studied them. There is no God, it is a figment of the jews mentality, picked up in ignorance and passed from parents to children. Read Matthew Ch. 15 second half and see the difference between what is written and what the Christians think. There is no requirement for a God, we are born of ourselves, a product of evolution.

  3. Islam gives a unifying paradigm and recognizes the spiritual experience of all people over the millennia, whereas, Christianity always demonstrates an obsession with Jesus and in this age of information wants to pull us back two thousand years ago to a society, when heroes were elevated to be gods.

    The Holy Quran says, “They are surely disbelievers who say, ‘Allah is the third of three,’ there is no God but the One God. And if they desist not from what they say, a grievous punishment shall surely befall those of them that disbelieve”. (5:74).

  4. Third of 3-in-1:- Originated in Judaism {1}, picked up (by ear), became christianity (the bible) {2}, picked up by Mohammad through contact with christians, became the Qur’an {3}.

    • most likely; that is why it is clearly stated in the Qur’an that the book of knowledge, the Bible should be consulted when there are questions/ambiquities.

  5. Very excellent info. Thank you. We have to read about religion from many view and than decide it witch one is the truth of religion, do not judge others. Let God judge us
    I agree??

  6. God Almighty has enforced his Laws in Nature. Those laws are controlling all the creatures in the universe. God has blessed mankind with extraordinary commonsense and wisdom but millions of people have forfeited their blessed qualities and believe in nonsense, A man born to a woman who needs food, water to quench his thirst, need sleep to rest and in the morning rushes to the bathroom. Could he be a God?? He could be a Godly person but certainly not God.

  7. Dr Bart, huh? His education doesn’t impress me. He knows nothing. A waste of tuition dollars.

    The only doctors I recognize are the ones with stethoscopes around their necks. Maybe a therapist. No…not the therapist. If you break down that word you have THE RAPIST.

    This isn’t rocket science. It’s really easy, if ya just take the time to study ON YOUR OWN.

    All ya need is pens, college ruled paper, numerous hi-liters, and a TON of coffee, and many sleepless nights.

    But ole Doc Zia is probably way too tired after spending the day in the ER to study. He relies on an IMAM to TELL HIM what to believe.


    No ill will, Zia. Just my natural sarcasm at play here. As they say in the Wizard of Oz (are you allowed to watch that movie?), Pay No Attention to that man behind the curtain!

    Ever see the movie, NOT WITHOUT MY DAUGHTER?

    Islam is SCARY. I grew up thinking Islam was EXOTIC. Ali Babba laying in a tent, surrounded by beautiful women feeding him grapes, fanning him with huge feathers, and for fun, he flies away on a flying magic carpet. Then I grew up and learned the real Islam. Scared me to death.

    Palestinians harassing the Israelis by throwing cocktails that are not drinkable with fire, rocks…and these are children doing that. We played baseball, they participate in violence. Scary.

    Iranian doctor marries American woman…true story. He takes her to Iran, forces the Islam way of life on her, HIS FLAVOR, of course, dictates that she can’t come back to America, beats the holy living crap out of her, etc., etc….and all she wants to do is to COME HOME to America. But he won’t let her, and he USES the child against her, abuse after abuse after abuse.

    Islam is scary. Then 9/11 happened.

    Then Omar gets in OUR congress. HOW? She hates us. You gotta do some serious convincing that your religion is PEACEFUL, cuz I sure don’t see it.

    You guys are nice, but of course, your Koran tells you to be, when you are abroad, just like that Iranian Doctor was. But once back home…DEATH TO AMERICA, DEATH TO ISRAEL.

    Scary. Free will, huh? Could have fooled me.

    Ed Chapman

    • Ed’ soon I will need to erase your comments. If a husband abuses his wife Islam is not scary, because he goes totally against the teachings of Islam. Therefore Ed, we appreciate your comments about your religion. Let the readers compare. But please stop writing about Islam, about which you have a totally confused idea. If you really would like to know something about Islam keep reading our articles on The Muslim Times and go to http://www.alislam.org

  8. The comments of Ed Chapman above are very instructive.

    It is a compliment in disguise. It is a recognition that he has nothing worth while to say to prove that Jesus is God.

    Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proofs and he has none.

    So, his only tactic is evasion and hate mongering and shooting the messenger,

    • You are funny, Doc! I provide PLENTY of PROOF and evidence. You provide, what, The Huffington Post, and the like? That’s laughable. Why do you not provide KORAN proof? I just posted a whole bunch of stuff. And you call that hate mongering? It’s in YOUR teachings, not mine.

      You people are STRANGE, to say the least. You lie out of your ass, producing garbage, and you want us to take the bait?

      Islam, Antifa, I can’t tell the difference. Black masks, and violence. But, we get accused of hate mongering.

      You are the ones who posts garbage about Christianity, and you think we should just keep quiet about it?

      We have a saying,


      Provide your proof when discussing Islam, like we do when we discuss Christianity.

      Your Torah is trash.

      Ed Chapman

  9. I rest my case. Let the readers judge. The 24 lectures by the Teaching company are proof enough. The audio of the book is in the post and Prof. Bart Ehrman’s video above is a slam dunk case. I am just sticking to the topic under discussion here.

    Peace and Love for All, Even for the Hate Mongers!

    • Negative. Providing proof is based on your own studies, not that of another. If you believe yours is right, provide proof from your own book. That’s what I do. You’ll never find me quoting Dr such and such, or professor whatever. Our evidence is from my book. Yours is from outside sources.

    • It’s not an oxymoron. BODY IS MAN, SPIRIT IS GOD. It’s so simple. Body dies, spirit eternal. LOGOS, not rhema. Before Abraham existed, I exist. If David called him Lord, how is Christ David’s son?

      And a whole lot more.

      But, when you die, you won’t see Allah, you will see JESUS. And you will bow down to him! Then you will apologize to me!

      Ed Chapman

    • Zia,

      Here is your apple, rock, and monkey. The monkey sat on a rock and ate an apple.


      Matthew 1:1 (THE SON OF DAVID)
      The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David…


      Matthew 22:41-46
      41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

      42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

      43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

      44 The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

      *********45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?**********

      46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.



      Mark 12:35-37
      35 And Jesus answered and said, while he taught in the temple, How say the scribes that Christ is the son of David?

      36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

      37 David therefore himself calleth him Lord; and whence is he then his son? And the common people heard him gladly.



      Luke 20:41-44
      41 And he said unto them, How say they that Christ is David’s son?

      42 And David himself saith in the book of Psalms, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,

      43 Till I make thine enemies thy footstool.

      44 David therefore calleth him Lord, how is he then his son?



      Revelation 22:16
      I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David,

      And that, Zia, is how it’s done. QUOTE IT, LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE. Do not quote the college educated, just scripture. Yours vs. mine. NO COMMENTARIES, cuz I could care less what Doc Bart states. I could care less what Pope whoever states. I could care less what John Calvin states, or Marin Luther. I don’t care. All I want is scripture. Yours vs. mine.

      Jesus created David (ROOT), and he is the SON OF DAVID (OFFSPRING).

      Ed Chapman

      • Ed, just give up. Son of David, Son of God, God, Holy Spirit and all that. We Muslims are simple straightforward people. I recall a pamphlet distributed by Christian Missionaries in Ghana. It said: ‘Do not speak of the Trinity, Muslims will not understand it, just speak of Love’. Well, they got that right. We simply cannot follow you.

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