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The Accuracy of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians

 

I’m a couple of days behind on my Weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I’ve been so caught up in talking about the conversion of the Roman empire to Christianity that I forgot all about it!  So here is last week’s a day late.  IN it I deal with one question which turns out to be three questions, all of them related to the the historical accuracy of Paul’s letter to the Galatians..

 

QUESTION:

 

Bart, quick question that’s bothering me. You often say that we ...

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How Many Churches? How Many Letters?

In his important and stimulating article, “Christian Number and Its Implications,” Roman historian Keith Hopkins next begins to think about the implications about the size of the Christian church at different periods.  One point to emphasize is that there was not simply one church.  There were lots of churches in lots of places, and it is a myth to think that they were all one big cohesive bunch.  On the contrary, they were often (as we see in our records) ...

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How Significant Was Early Christianity?

I return now to Roman historian Keith Hopkins’s fascinating and influential article “Christian Number and It’s Implications.”   As I pointed out, for the sake of his article, and after checking it out for plausibility, Hopkins accepts the calculations of Rodney Stark that if Christianity started with 1000 believers in the year 40 CE, and ended up being 10% of the empire (60 million believers) by the time of the Emperor Constantine, you would need a growth rate of about 40% ...

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Whom Do We Consider a Christian?

Who counts as a Christian?   When I was a hard-core evangelical at Moody Bible Institute, we had a pretty clear and straightforward answer:  if you have not been born again and accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you were not a Christian.  No matter what you believed or where you worshiped or how you lived.

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Playing with the Numbers (of Christians)

I have been musing on the rate of growth of the Christian church during the first three hundred years, and have pointed out some problems with Rodney Stark’s discussion.   I won’t go over all that again here.   I will say that his argument tends to be very convenient for his … argument.  What he points out is that a growth rate over time of about 40% grows the church from about 1000 Christians in the year 40 (that’s a number ...

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How Many Christians Were There?

There are a lot of things that I’m really very interested in that I’m not very good at.  As a kid I was passionate about baseball.  I was an All Star every year up to high school, but I really wasn’t all that great.  I was just better than most of the other kids, who *really* weren’t great.  It was a rather low bar.  Same with tennis.  Same with a lot of things – even into adulthood.

As an adult I’ve ...

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The Rate of Christian Growth

I have been discussing the fascinating article by Keith Hopkins, “Christian Number and Its Implications,” about how many people converted to Christianity at certain points of time (say, from ten years after Jesus’ death to the time the emperor Constantine converted in the year 312).  As we have seen so far, the first problem Hopkins deals with is how to count – that is, who counts as a Christian?  Hopkins takes the (in my opinion) justifiable and sensible view that ...

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Paul in a Nutshell and NT Views of Crucifixion: Readers Mailbag May 13, 2016

In this week’s Readers Mailbag I will deal with two rather massively significant questions, one on the life and message of Paul and the other on the different understandings of Jesus crucifixion in the New Testament.

If you have any question(s) you would like me to address in the future, let me know!

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QUESTION:

I am wondering what you would consider the most important things to know about the Apostle Paul.   Sometimes when I am forced to give a succinct answer to a ...

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Trolling Advice!

Dear Readers and Fans of the Blog:

I have gotten a number of comments/complaints about trolling and thought I should just tell you my policy in case you think I should change it.   I have two competing principles that I try to keep in balance on the blog.  On one hand, I want readers to say what they really, genuinely think and to have a chance, then, to air their views.  On the other hand, I don’t want simply to post ...

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Help!!

Is anyone on the blog a professional mathematician or statistician?  (I’m not looking for someone who’s good with numbers but with someone who makes a living out of it.)  If so, and you’d be willing to help me out with a question that probably any sophomore in high school could handle, could you send me a private email at behrman@email.unc.edu ?

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