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Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History & Legend

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  621 Ratings  ·  68 Reviews
Bart Ehrman, author of the highly popular Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code and Lost Christianities, here takes readers on another engaging tour of the early Christian church, illuminating the lives of three of Jesus' most intriguing followers: Simon Peter, Paul of Tarsus, and Mary Magdalene.
What do the writings of the New Testament tell us about each of these key f
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published April 2006)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,284)
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Sep 07, 2010 Mike rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: belief, world-history
Can Bart Ehrman even write a bad book? No. No, he can't. This book, like every other of his that I have read, is so beautifully precise in its scope, so judiciously edited and authoritatively sourced, that I was sorry to come to the end of it. Ehrman's prose is carefully chosen to convey exactly what he means to convey, and he makes his points while maintaining all the subtleties and caveats that come with writing about first century people.

This book is divided into three parts, dealing with th
Bob Buice
Jul 09, 2014 Bob Buice rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone with an interest in theology
Recommended to Bob by: History Book Club
Bart Ehrman, a Professor of Religious Studies, a fundamentalist Christian turned agnostic, and a highly published author, writes in a way that clarifies his own agnostic beliefs, but shows no contempt for the faithful. In fact, in many ways his writings might appear to encourage the faithful.

Dr. Ehrman’s justification of the need to understand history is quite convincing. He says, “That is to say, at the end of the day, no one has a purely antiquarian interest, an interest in the past for its o
Jun 07, 2014 Jc rated it it was ok
As usual, I find Ehrman somewhat frustrating due to his claims of academic scholarship (claims I do not generally doubt) mixed with a tendency to not separate himself completely from his former evangelical/born-againer home. But, I still read his works because he [mostly] has a good feel for the proto- and early-christian history of the first few centuries c.e. However, I was very disappointed by Peter, Paul and Mary as I don't feel he followed through with his promise to look into the legends t ...more
May 18, 2011 Dee rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion, non-fiction
When I started this book, I was skeptical. This historian from Univ. of NC Chapel Hill talks of legends and history, offers his own opinions, I believe calls himself an agnostic. However, he presents a good case of realism about Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene - the three famous followers of Jesus. He separates fact from fiction and backs up how he deciphers fact from fiction. He is well versed in the cultures of the early centuries C.E. (he prefers this over A.D.) He is recognized as a scholar o ...more
Paul Cool
Oct 03, 2013 Paul Cool rated it really liked it
Bought this in 2006 and finally got around to reading it. I wish Bart Ehrman's work was available when I was taking "religion" on high school and "theology" at university. The questions of what Jesus actually said and meant, and who PP&M actually were and what they might have said or done, become a lot more problematic when you deconstruct, unpack, break down and figure out that a lot of legend has been superimposed upon the original and no longer available New Testament texts. For example, ...more
Sarah's Book Nook
Jun 19, 2015 Sarah's Book Nook rated it it was ok
Shelves: religion
My Book Blog --->

I read Ehrman's books, not for his opinions but for the facts he presents in relation to the New Testament, of which he obviously knows thoroughly. However, our faiths differ greatly, again obviously.

His writing style is easy to follow, but there is so much background information here that he used word-for-word in other texts, that gets a bit tedious. And his habit of repeating himself also gets tiresome.

Here he presents Peter, Paul, a
Christopher Selmek
Jan 26, 2015 Christopher Selmek rated it it was ok
Erhman is definitely an expert on historical Christianity. As per the title, this book does not touch on Jesus at all, but instead expounds on the lives of three well-known figures associated with him. However, in the case of Peter and Mary, I wish he had cited the Bible more often.

Erhman makes the claim that he can say little about these historical figures, but instead aims to show how they were remembered in eras after their death. However, he does so by focusing almost entirely on extra-canon
José Monico
Feb 14, 2014 José Monico rated it really liked it
This was a very surprisingly entertaining read. Most of the information was not too new for me; but the conciseness of Ehrman's biographical depth on the Peter and Paul were absolutely fascinating. And there it goes to show that there is something always new to learn; even if it's just the opinion of the author.

Simon Peter, or "Rocky" to Jesus; an illiterate, poor, fisherman from the non-eventful village of Bethsaida. A fickle, curious and overstepping man to Jesus. Wholly devoted, nevertheless
Jul 28, 2014 Emily rated it really liked it
This book took me forever to read because it just isn't one of those books that you can sit and read for long periods of time. It is a thinking book, and it had to be chunked up. However, once I got to the part about Mary Magdalene, I really had a hard time putting it down, and I think it is the strongest part of the book. The author's thoughts and opinions about women show through clearly in this part, and his idea of how women are portrayed and used in the Bible and as part of Jesus's work is ...more
Jun 09, 2016 Kolumbina rated it it was amazing
What a good book. In my view an excellent explanation of Bible and Christianity. I loved it. It makes sense and a lot of information and interpretations by B. D. Ehrman made my understanding of Christianity and history behind Christianity more clear. Perhaps there are quite a few repetitions through his book but it is unavoidable in that kind of book. I really like the writer's historical comparisons with popular bestseller "Da Vinci Code". Also the style of writing and sense for humour make thi ...more
Jul 17, 2015 Colleen rated it really liked it
Having finished Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography not too long ago - and rediscovering my distaste for Bruce Chilton's approach to early church history, I wanted to refresh my palate with a reliable favorite.

Peter, Paul, & Mary Magdalene does that admirably, as I knew any book by Bart D. Ehrman would. Ehrman remains accessible and interesting throughout. Of particular interest in this book, Ehrman looks not only at what we know about the early apostles (precious little), but also what those
Nov 25, 2014 Hilary rated it it was ok
Two stars was about right for this book for me.

Bart D. Ehrman is probably my favorite author when it comes to New Testament scholarship, and his books never fail to hold my interest. That having been said, this book was a rather large missed opportunity in my opinion. Much of what is said is repeated from section to section, and later traditions are not treated at all. I understand the purpose of this book was to explain what historical figure lies behind the traditions, but the traditions could
Lee Harmon
May 07, 2011 Lee Harmon rated it it was amazing
This may be my favorite among Ehrman books. It details the legends of three of the most important followers of Jesus in the Bible.

Few of the stories told are considered historical; even stories that derive from the Bible are not considered literally true by Ehrman. For example, many of our stories come from the book of Acts, and about a quarter of Acts is made up of speeches by its characters, mostly Peter and Paul. But the speeches all sound about the same; Peter sounds like Paul and Paul sound
Nov 14, 2012 Ilya rated it liked it
After Jesus, Saint Peter, Saint Paul and Mary Magdalene are the most important figures in the history of Christianity. Jesus had twelve closest disciples, who traveled with Jesus, whom Jesus instructed separately, and who would sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the coming Kingdom of God. Of the twelve, Simon Peter, James the son of Zebedee, and John were the closest; they would go to places together with Jesus and witness miracles. Of these, Peter was the closest. A fisherman ...more
Oct 07, 2014 Andi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned all sorts of fun stuff that I was never told growing up in a Lutheran grade school. For instance, the apostles Peter and Paul didn't like each other and weren't on the same page with many of the things they believed/preached. That was certainly news to me! I'm fascinated by the differences present within the Bible itself, as well as just how different Christian religions are now from what they apparently started out to be.

As expected, the sections on Peter and on Paul were robust and f
C.C. Thomas
Jun 08, 2013 C.C. Thomas rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction, history
I have loved all the other Ehrman books I've read and so respect his writing style and research.
Hhe goes step by step through his research and thinking processes for each of the points he's trying to make, then he lets the reader decide for him/herself. He doesn't just beat you over the head with facts and his opinion.

The book is divided into thirds, about one third about each of the apostles Peter, Paul and Mary Magdalene, and the contributions each made to the formation of the church and orga
Nathan Dehoff
Dec 01, 2013 Nathan Dehoff rated it it was amazing
I quite enjoy Ehrman's books on early Christianity, and this one is no exception. Published in 2006, it discusses the historical data we have on three of the most significant early followers of Jesus, with six chapters devoted to each of them. It's clear that most of the materials we do have were not written by eye witnesses, and even works credited to them were sometimes forged by someone trying to cite a voice of authority to make a point. Two of the books in the New Testament are attributed t ...more
John Lamberth
Oct 01, 2012 John Lamberth rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, history
This is one of Ehrman's best. He goes into great detail about the lives of St. Peter, St. Paul, and Mary Magdelene, from the legends to what the Bible tells us. It is in depth and extremely comparative.
Folks that believe in the inerrancy of the Bible won't like it, since it points out continuity errors in the New Testament, but for everybody else, it should provide some interesting new ways of looking at the lives of Jesus' most "well-known" followers.
And if it doesn't at least somewhat change y
Jan 20, 2014 Amy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, history
The premise of this book seemed appealing... a look at the historical figures of Sts. Peter and Paul, and Mary Magdalene. Unfortunately, source material is hard to come by and the Ehrman was left repeating himself in chapter after chapter. Some of the assumptions he made about the reader's understanding of historical, biblical documents were off the mark and could have been fleshed out more descriptively. It was also very readily apparent that Ehrman has an axe to grind with Dan Brown's fictiona ...more
Feb 07, 2014 Steve rated it liked it
Bart Ehrman does his usual excellent job of differentiating fact from myth regarding these early Christian figures. He reports what we actually know from the sources and illustrates how later sources told stories to fit their author's theological viewpoints. The book does seem a bit padded--there is considerable repetition of some of the information.
Mar 03, 2015 Paul rated it really liked it
Bart Ehrman is by far my favorite writer on early Christianity, and this book has the same insight and logic that his others have had. Here he deals with a subject that is more legend than simple fact. He does a really nice job of explicating it.
Jan 15, 2016 Becky rated it liked it
This took me a lot longer to read than I would have liked. Ehrman is great at interpretations and bringing up questions and nuances I would have never considered and I did enjoy reading this, but it was hampered by the fact that this book often felt more like a long slog than light side reading. I wouldn't recommend it to someone unless they were already interested in the topic. Certainly will continue reading his books.
Andrew Obrigewitsch
I felt like this book covered much of the same ground that twas covered by another Ehrman book I read. However the last bit about Mary Magdalene was very interesting.
Aug 14, 2015 Robert rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Not Ehrman's best. His "just a historian" persona limits the breadth of his analysis and leads him to a lot of repetition and unnecessary jibes as conspiracy and popular writers. His How Jesus Became God is a better analysis of the meaning of the historical record embedded in the scriptures. Here, he avoids any serious exploration or speculation as to how and why the stories got (re)told the way they did. Finally, his dismissal of the gnostic tradition without seeing how it reflects the mystic t ...more
Peter Swenson
May 23, 2014 Peter Swenson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good history of New Testament figures. A little repetitive if you're familiar with Ehrman's many other works on the New Testament, but still good.
Oct 31, 2011 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've enjoyed a number of Bart Erman's books, despite his hobbyhorse about Biblical literalism (on which I agree with him, but am less obsessive). But this book leaves that in the background, as he explores not just what we know historically about the three most important apostles of Jesus, but also how their images shifted and were reinterpreted in different flavors of Christianity over the first few centuries. It also shows how the ideas of Jesus and salvation changed in those years, until they ...more
Kathy  Petersen
I was disappointed, but I didn't hate it. What I definitely disliked was the repetition of often inconsequential and unsubstantiated—by the author's admission—details of these three important persons in the history of Christianity. After all these centuries it is difficult to pursue and define them, so Ehrman had to pad what would have been quite a good, solid article into a book-length publication. (And why, oh, why does the most assuredly fictional DaVinci Code have to rear its silly head in e ...more
Michael Murphy
May 04, 2013 Michael Murphy rated it really liked it
Terrific piece of work - liked it a lot more than I thought I would. Does a nice job of bringing in the noncanonical material (like the gnostic gospels), and pointing out areas of inconsistency, and sorting out some persnickety authorship issues (like which bits Paul likely did and did not write). Some readers may find his sense of humor a bit too biting. My main reason for not giving it 5 stars is that his section on Mary Magdalene duplicates a lot of stuff that he's previously published (or at ...more
Jun 08, 2016 Edward rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobooks, religion
This book is a very illuminating look at what is known, speculated and disputed about its three subjects. Ehrman does a great job at sticking to the topic and really diving into the detail on these figures. And as usual he treats the subject with historical and scientific rigor and does not give undue deference to tradition. My one criticism is that this, like some of his other books, contains a fair amount of repetition and could easily be cut down for a more condensed and streamlined read.
William Crosby
Jul 09, 2013 William Crosby rated it really liked it
Attempts to give historical and legendary accounts of these three and to explain why certain legends developed.

Also explains how accepted as scripture may have legendary and not historical accounts. Most N.T. books (except letters of Paul and some of those may not have been written by him) were written centuries after the events.

Gives perspective.

Does a lot of mind reading of ancient characters supposed thoughts. Sometimes is repetitive.
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Bart D. Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He came to UNC in 1988, after four years of teaching at Rutgers University. At UNC he has served as both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

A graduate of Wheaton College (Illinois), Professor Ehrman received both his Masters of Div
More about Bart D. Ehrman...

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