An excellent companion to Reza Aslan’s Zealot. Where Aslan is more general in the presentation of textual evidence, Ehrman delves into the details. He spends an appropriate amount of time educating the reader on how textual evidence is weighed and investigated by biblical scholarship, which is fundamental for the reader to grasp the evidence he later presents. After this introduction to textual exegesis, Ehrman spends time presenting the various personalities of the “Mythicist” position and their major arguments. He then proceeds to discuss the evidence for the historical Jesus. In the next section he dismantles the Mythicist position systematically.
While many readers will find Did Jesus Exist much drier reading than Aslan, those with a more academic bent, and those wanting a more detailed examination of the evidence for the historical Jesus will find it here. I was suitably impressed with Ehrman’s detailed analysis and his willingness to approach the Mythicist position, if not with sympathy, evenhandedly. The introductory material where he discusses how textual criticism is used by biblical scholars was, for me, not necessary, however those with little familiarity with these techniques will find it invaluable.
I recommend reading both Did Jesus Exist and Zealot together as companion pieces. They compliment each other very well.