I'm excited that I finally finished the 24-lecture course offered by The Teaching Company on "The Historical Jesus" by Professor Bart D. Ehrman. Over the last couple of days I polished off the final two lectures:
Lecture Twenty-Three "The afterlife of Jesus" - 30 mins
Lecture Twenty-Four "The prophet of the new millennium" - 30 mins
This was an excellent, highly informative course. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in history and the historical origins of Christianity. There was a ton of stuff I was never aware of regarding Jesus' life and his teachings. This is just one example of dozens of eye-opening moments for me. The context is a discussion of the difficulties that Jesus' early followers had in convincing other Jews of their claims.
"Jesus’ death showed most Jews that he was not the messiah. Most considered the idea that he was the messiah to be blasphemous.
1. Christians today tend to think that Jesus was crucified, because that was what the messiah was supposed to do.
2. Before Christianity, we have no indication that any Jew anywhere thought that the messiah would suffer and die, even for the sins of the world. Not a single reference exists to any such idea in any Jewish text—including the Hebrew Bible—before Christianity.
3. Why then do Christians assume that that is what the Jewish messiah was supposed to do? Because that’s what the early Christians concluded based on what they already knew about Jesus.
1. The Hebrew Bible did not discuss the messiah’s suffering. Some passages refer to the suffering of a righteous man (cf. Isaiah 53), who feels abandoned by God, but whose suffering is accepted as a sacrifice for others.
2. Some passages, such as the Psalms of Lament (e.g., Pss. 22, 35, 69) and the songs of the Suffering Servant of the Lord in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 53), were taken to refer not just to any person who was suffering, or even to Israel as a whole (cf. Isaiah 49:3), but to the future messiah of Israel."
-Course notes, Lecture Twenty-Three
Next I'll be tackling a few books on the same subject, as well as some documentaries.