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EPISODE # 230

Bart Ehrman — Did the Christmas Story Really Happen? The Birth of Jesus in History & Legend

Michael Shermer speaks with renowned biblical scholar and historian, Bart Ehrman, about: how we know Jesus existed and was crucified; how these questions are different epistemologically from those about Jesus’ resurrection and the claim that he died for our sins; how Christians deal with the trinity problem: How can God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit be one and the same and yet separate and different? (“God sacrificed himself…to himself…to save us from himself.” How is this possible?); How Christians answer these questions: Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? Why couldn’t God just forgive us for our sins?; Why was the virgin birth so important to early Christians? Why was the resurrection so important to early Christians? Anti-Semitism in the early Christian church (“the Jews killed Jesus” or “the Jews killed God”) and why it makes no theological sense (Jesus was Jewish, and if he had to die to save us from our sins, whoever killed Jesus should be thanked); why Jews and Muslims do not believe that Jesus was the messiah; how Jesus became God and how Christianity grew from a few dozen followers at the time of Jesus’s death to over two billion followers today; theodicy and the problem of evil: Why does an all powerful, all knowing, all good God allow people to suffer?

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