Thanksgiving Reflections 2015

I would like to pause in my other blogging pursuits to reflect a bit on the holiday that is now upon us.   Like, I suppose, a lot of people, there are a number of holidays that I one time enjoyed very much but am now almost completely indifferent to.  For me those would include Halloween (it’s just not that much fun for me without having kids or any real connection with kids), Fourth of July (I’m always in England on ...

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The SBL and the Blog

I just finished spending five days at my annual professional meeting, the Society of Biblical Literature, this year in Atlanta.   This is a very large conference, probably about 6,000 people here for it – not to mention another 6,000 here for the American Academy of Religion conference that is held jointly with it.

For both conferences this is a chance for professional academics in their various fields of religious studies (New Testament, Hebrew Bible, early Christianity, early Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Religion ...

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The Teaching of Jesus

I have been providing necessary background to the question of whether Jesus could have considered himself the messiah, and have done so by trying to situate him in the world of first century Jewish apocalyptic thinking.  We now need to move to a summary of Jesus’ teaching given that apocalyptic framework.

We could obviously have a year-long thread on the topic of what it was Jesus taught during his itinerant preaching ministry.  Many people have written very long books on the ...

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Fifty Ways to Forge a Gospel



Last month I attended a small conference on the early Christian apocrypha (that is, the Gospels, epistles, Acts, and Apocalypses from early Christianity that were not accepted into the canon of Scripture) at York University in Toronto.   The special topic for the conference was the use of forgery in early Christianity, and I was asked to give the keynote address.

This is a topic, of course, I have been long interested in.   I spent several years working on my (rather long) ...

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Readers’ Mailbag November 20, 2015

It is time for my weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I will be dealing with two questions this time.  If you have questions, about anything at all related to the historical Jesus, the New Testament, the history of early Christianity, or anything else that I may have a remote chance of knowing something about, please ask!  You can either respond with a comment/question to this post, or send me an email, or comment on any other post!


QUESTION:   An off-topic request: what are ...

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The Beginning and End as Keys to the Middle

In my last post I showed why it is so widely acknowledged that Jesus began his ministry by associating with John the Baptist, an apocalyptic preacher of coming doom.   The reason that matters for our purposes in this thread is that it shows that Jesus chose, of his own free will, to join an apocalyptic movement at the very beginning of his public ministry.  That certainly demonstrates that Jesus started out his public life as a fervent advocate of a ...

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The Baptism of Jesus as an Apocalyptic Event

Over the years scholars have adduced lots of reasons for thinking that Jesus – like many others in his day – was a Jewish apocalypticist, one who thought that the world was controlled by forces of evil but that God was very soon going to intervene to overthrow everything and everyone opposed to him in order to set up a good kingdom here on earth.  As I pointed out in my previous post, this is the view found in Jesus’ ...

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Albert Schweitzer and the Apocalyptic Jesus

In the current thread I’m trying to establish that Jesus believed he was the messiah.  I have pointed out that his followers would not have considered him the messiah because they believed he had been raised from the dead (since the messiah was not supposed to die and rise again) unless they had already considered him the messiah prior to his death.  But that, of course, does not mean that Jesus *himself* thought he was the messiah.  And so we ...

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The Apocalyptic Context for Jesus’ View of the Messiah

In this thread I am trying to argue that Jesus understood himself to be the messiah.  So far I have made one of my two main arguments, with the understanding that *both* arguments have to be considered in order to have a compelling case.  So the first prong doesn’t prove much on its own.  But in combination with the second argument, it makes a strong case.  The first argument is that Jesus’ followers would not have understood him as the ...

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Readers’ Mailbag November 13, 2015

It is time for the weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I am keeping a list of questions readers have asked, and I add to it all the time.  If you have a question you are eager to hear me answer in a couple of paragraphs or so, simply ask!  One convenient way to do so is simply to make a comment/question on this post.  Here are three questions for today.


QUESTIONThe Wikipedia entry on the gospel of the Nasorenes mentions your work ...

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