One of the first bearded images of Christ, late 4th cent.; Catacomb of Commodilla, Rome
NOTE: This program has an updated location.
Scholars of the New Testament and early Christianity continue to debate a number of crucial issues that matter not only to people of faith, but also to anyone interested in the history of the world’s largest religion. Following the success of last year’s “great controversies” seminar, Bart Ehrman, a leading authority on early Christianity, the New Testament, and the life of Jesus, returns to explore four more intriguing questions.
9:30–10:45 a.m. Did Jesus Believe in Hell?
New Testament readers have long assumed Jesus believed in hell and warned his followers about it. Modern scholarship has called that view into question. Who is right? Ehrman explores Jesus’ teachings about life after death.
11 a.m.–12:15 p.m. Was Paul the Real Founder of Christianity?
Christianity teaches that salvation comes from the death and resurrection of Jesus. This was the focus of Paul’s missionary message, but in the opinion of many investigators it is not what Jesus himself taught. For them, Christianity is about Jesus, rather than the religion of Jesus. Is this right? Is Paul the one who actually started Christianity?
12:15–1:30 p.m. Lunch (participants provide their own)
1:30–2:45 p.m. Jews, Christians, and the Battle for the Bible
Leaders of the early church claimed that the Old Testament was a Christian book that had long been misunderstood by the Jews to whom it had been given. Jews obviously disagreed. A long history of antagonism between the two sides ensued. Ehrman explores the battle for the Bible in its early stages.
3–4:15 p.m. Does the Book of Revelation Predict Our Future?
No book of the New Testament has more excited and befuddled Christian readers than Revelation. But is it really a blueprint for our own future, with the imminent coming of Armageddon and the end of the world?
Ehrman is the James A. Gray distinguished professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
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