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

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  520 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Ehrman deals with three followers of Jesus who are the most significant: Peter, his closest disciple: Paul, his most important apostle; and Mary Magdalene, his most prominent female follower. This book explains what we can know about each of these figures as real people, and what legends emerged about them after their deaths.
Hardcover, 285 pages
Published April 28th 2006 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published April 21st 2006)
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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
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
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
Christopher Selmek
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
Antonio Monico
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
Bob Buice
Jul 09, 2014 Bob Buice rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Paul Cool
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
John Lamberth
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
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
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.
Peter Swenson
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.
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
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
William Crosby
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.
Silvia Iskandar

As other Bart Ehrman's book, it was easy to read for such a difficult subject. I'm a bit disappointed that he doesn't have enough things to say about Mary, although it is not his fault
Joe Paulk
This was during my DaVinci Code kick. Writing a review a few years later, however, makes me realize that Ehrman didn't quite do his job so well. How do I know? I don't remember enough of it and its impact was negligible. There was perhaps an illumination in understanding these three important figures, but he was pushing some of his ideas as inerrant facts when they were just well founded ideas.
It is bound to happen - the more I read of Mr. Ehrman the more his books start to overlap. This one had some pretty interesting stuff on Peter and Paul that I didn't know, so that was good. The stuff on Mary Magdelene was somewhat informative but mostly speculative. Interesting book and I'm glad I read it but it didn't have the impact on me as the previous books by him that I've read.
Mi piace questo autore perché affronta personaggi resi quasi mitici dalla religione con una storicità disarmante che li fa apprezzare davvero in quanto vengono messi sul nostro stesso livello. Un approccio illuminante per chi vuole approfondire la propria dimensione di fede, e la scrittura semplice e discorsiva ne facilita la comprensione.
Another really good one by Bart Ehrman that will aid your understanding of the development of the early christian church through a close examination of three of its key players: Peter- the Rock, Paul, and Mary Magdalene.

Again, if you are interested in this subject, you'll want to check this one out.
Not my favorite Ehrman read, probably because it took so long to finish. Not the books fault but my current life. Still not sure how this will affect my on-going re-evaluation of faith, spirituality, and religion. Didn't add anything new, but didn't take anything away either.
I found this book very informative of the Christian followers after Jesus' death. Who they were, what their philosophy and personal viewpoint of the religion was and how it shaped what we think of as Christianity today. Especially intriguing is the section on Mary Magdalene.
Jun 09, 2008 Dave rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in history of religion
Shelves: non-fiction-read
Another fascinating, well-documented book by Ehrman. A review of what historical information there is on each of three principals in the early Christian movement as well as identification of forgeries attributed to them and legends that grew around them. I like Ehrman's style.
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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...
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible (and Why We Don't Know About Them) Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question - Why We Suffer Forged: Writing in the Name of God

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