What do I think of Bart Ehrman’s newest book published by Simon and Schuster? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
We’re going to take a break from KJV-onlyism to look at Ehrman’s newest book which came out yesterday. This is a book about end times, but it mainly focuses on the book of Revelation. A number of people will hear that and think “Obviously. Where else would you go?” There are a number of other places in Scripture to go and we will see if Ehrman deals with any of these.
As it stands, I am only on chapter 3 of this book right now, but I want to cover it in sections seeing as it could be too much to cover in just one big review. However, as I say that, part of the problem is as I went through these chapters, there were a few minor problems, but overall not much I disagreed with.
Let’s start at the beginning, a naturally good place to start. Ehrman talks about moving to North Carolina, the Bible belt, in 1988, and shortly after receiving a call from a reporter asking if it was true Jesus was going to return soon. This was based on a book by Edgar Whisenant offering 88 reasons why the rapture would take place in ’88. Of course, Ehrman isn’t a Christian so he said no, but at that time, many Christians would have said, “Yes.”
Ehrman is then critiquing a rapture idea, though at the same time, he doesn’t really say much about eschatological systems. A word search of the book, and only for this word, shows that Dispensationalism isn’t mentioned until page 65. I have not yet searched for Preterism though like his last book related to eschatology.
Unmentioned at the start is “If a Christian does not hold to this eschatology, what do they hold to?” Ehrman does talk about the rapture scares that took place in the time with young Christians being terrified of being left behind. Naturally, he talks also about the novels of the same name. The technique was effective. Many people did become Christians because of a fear of being left behind. (Which I have as much a problem with as people becoming Christians just because they want to go to Heaven.)
I did disagree with the statement he made about how Paul converted the people of Thessalonica and was convinced Jesus was returning soon. I contend that he was hoping Jesus would, but he had no sure knowledge. Then why does he say “We?” It’s an editorial we. If Paul says “They” then he is making a statement that it will definitely be after his time, which again, he didn’t know. If he says we, it can be used to refer to any in the body of Christ. If someone thinks there is a better way to phrase the text Paul wrote, they are free to suggest it.
However, I did agree that people in his generation were thinking they were the last one and reading the Bible this way since really, it’s all about us. Unfortunately, that continues even to this day. Many of us consider it unthinkable that we will face death someday. Forget that the first generations of Christians and many today face that constantly.
The second chapter is more an overview of the book of Revelation. Ehrman says he will go into more detail on certain aspects of that, like the Beast and the Great Harlot in later chapters. I will save my comments for when we get to those then.
Until then, at this point, the book appears rather tame. Will orthodox Preterism be mentioned and will Ehrman have anything to say about that? I’m not doing a word search for it yet as I don’t want spoilers, but we will see.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)