Hardcover | 288 pages | April 2006 | $25.00
ISBN13: 9780195300130 | ISBN10: 0195300130
What do the writings of the New Testament tell us about each of these key followers of Christ? What legends have sprung up about them in the centuries after their deaths? Was Paul bow-legged and bald? Was Peter crucified upside down? Was Mary Magdalene a prostitute? In this lively work, Ehrman separates fact from fiction, presenting complicated historical issues in a clear and informative way and relating vivid anecdotes culled from the traditions of these three followers. He notes, for instance, that historians are able to say with virtual certainty that Mary, the follower of Jesus, was from the fishing village of Magdala on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (this is confirmed by her name, Mary Magdalene, reported in numerous independent sources); but there is no evidence to suggest that she was a prostitute (this legend can be traced to a sermon preached by Gregory the Great five centuries after her death), and little reason to think that she was married to Jesus. Similarly, there is no historical evidence for the well-known tale that Peter was crucified upside down. Ehrman also argues that the stories of Paul's miracle working powers as an apostle are legendary accounts that celebrate his importance.
A serious book but vibrantly written and leavened with many colorful stories, Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene will appeal to anyone curious about the early Christian church and the lives of these important figures.
Part I: Simon Peter
1. The Quarry: Our Sources for Peter as the Rock
2. Peter: Solid Rock or Shifting Sand?
3. The Rocky Beginning
4. Peter at the Passion
5. On This Rock I Will Build My Church
6. Peter: Christian Author and Martyr
Part II: The Apostle Paul
7. Polling Our Sources
8. Paul the Convert
9. Paul the Apostle
10. Paul 's Proclamation According to Later Sources
11. Paul's Impassioned Allies
12. Paul's Embittered Allies
Part III: Mary Magdalene
13. Mary Magdalene in Popular Culture and History
14. Mary During the Ministry of Jesus
15. Jesus and Mary in Conversation
16. Mary at the Passion
17. Mary and Her Revelations
18. Mary: The Residual Questions
Conclusion: Peter, Paul, and Mary in Perspective
Credits and Permissions
"Bart Ehrman offers a startlingly fresh look at three of the prime early followers of Jesus--startling in its emperor's-new-clothes intelligence and Ehrman's envigorating dare for his readers to confront him with the fact that he's often skating merrily on thin ice, but ice all the same. I read him always with addictive pleasure in his brilliance and his generous-hearted eagerness to tell us all he knows, which is very much indeed."
--Reynolds Price, author of The Good Priest's Son: A Novel, A Serious Way or Wondering: The Ethics of Jesus Imagined , and Kate Vaiden
"With penetrating insight, backed up by first class scholarship and communicated in comprehensible English, Bart Ehrman examines in a new light the interpretive process that gathered around Jesus and his followers both before and after the gospels were written. In so doing he opens new wide vistas into the origins of Christianity and sets the stage for a dramatic rethinking of the Christian creeds. It is a terrific book for open minds seeking truth in ancient religious formulas, but a frightening book for those who think they already possess infallible or inert truth."
--John Shelby Spong, author of The Sins of Scripture: Exposing the Bible's Terrible Texts of Hate to Reveal the God of Love , and Bishop, The Episcopal Church
"Bart Ehrman has done it again! He has marvelously succeeded in producing a riveting but historically credible account of three of the most important early followers of Jesus, shedding important new light on the very foundations of early Christianity. Ehrman is a master at telling his story, at separating fact from fiction, and carefully weighing all the evidence. He has done more than any scholar of our time to share the fascinating results of responsible historical investigations with the wider public."
--James D. Tabor, author of The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity
"Drawing widely from history, scripture and extra-biblical writings, he studies the many stories of the lives of the first-century 'Peter, Paul and Mary,' arguing that inclusion of some accounts in the canon should not elevate these texts above the others, some of which were accepted early on by the church but later excluded from the canon. As with his other works, Ehrman presents his case clearly and succinctly."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Provides intriguing information on these New Testament personages. One will read accounts, for instance, in which Peter brings a smoked tuna back to life and in which Mary Magdalene travels to France to become an early missionary. Both stories are fictional but, Ehrman emphasizes, help show something of the ideas present in the early church period."
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