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Jesus, the Supernatural, and the Historian: Guest Post 2 by James Tabor

Here is the second half of James Tabor’s guest post; for the first, see yesterday!   I think you will agree, the two parts are very stimulating.  If you want to hear more of James’s thoughts on all sorts of topics connected to the New Testament and Early Christianity, he too has a very helpful blog where he discusses all sorts of relevant topics.  Give it a look!  It’s at https://jamestabor.com/

James will be happy to address questions you have in your comments.  Please keep them short and to the point, if possible!   Happy reading.

James Tabor’s most popular books are The Jesus Dynasty and Paul and Jesus.


The public has been geared to think of the suppression of evidence, usually with the Roman Catholic church being the culprit, but such grand “conspiratorial” theories have little basis in fact. What is most characteristic of early Christianity, or more properly, “Christianites,” is a competing diversity of “parties and politics,” each propagating its own vision of the significance of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. All sorts of interpretations are offered of Jesus, but the question finally comes down to…

To see the rest of James’s intriguing post, you’ll need to be a blog member.  It’s easy and inexpensive to join, and everything you pay goes to important charities.  So give it a shot!

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A “Newly Discovered” “Gospel”: Was Jesus Married with Children?
Guest Post by James Tabor: The Historian and the Supernatural



  1. sschullery
    sschullery  January 28, 2020

    Do we know (or suspect) the order in which the epistles of Paul were written? If so, can his theology be seen to evolve in any important way, as his view of resurrected bodies was “evolved for him” in the Gospels?

    “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.”
    I received this puzzling alert the first several times I clicked on ADD COMMENT for the above questions. What is the rule on this?? I had, a few minutes earlier, posted another comment on a different thread; could that be the problem, I wonder.

    • Bart
      Bart  January 29, 2020

      Don’t know — someone else has just asked, and we’re looking into it.

      It’s usually thought that 1 Thessalonians is first, Romans last, and the other five — possibly in teh order they now appear in the canon? It’s a good question about development of thought. I should post on it. Short answer: very hard to know, but in my new book I do argue he did change his view of what happens to a person after death and before the second coming.

  2. Avatar
    Fernando Peregrin Gutierrez  January 30, 2020

    I think that many times the approach of Christian historians who are experts in the Bible is not the most appropriate or the most complete.
    As an example, when Christian historians want to study the burial in the “ad hoc” grave of Joseph of Arimathea and the subsequent resurrection of Jesus, some assumptions are taken that are highly doubtful and improbable.
    In this case, it is the whole doctrine of atonement through the shedding of the blood of the son of God — which, moreover, is the same God as the Father of whom he is a son — which, well analyzed, is unfounded.
    The first is because it is with a very high probability a myth, a legend, because there was no such original sin to atone for since those who supposedly committed it, Adam and Eve are two fictional characters, as we know with very high certainty for the modern population genetics and the mathematical models that detect the population bottlenecks that were in the evolution of the human species, never less than about 2,000 individuals.
    And even assuming that the legend was true history, the result would be much worse for Christianity, since their God is an unjust and cruel character. Unfair to consider Adam and Eve’s disobedience a sin when they were supposedly more innocent than a small child, for they did not know that this disobedience was morally wrong since they had not yet eaten from the tree of science of good and evil. Cruel, because to forgive that sin that was not, he finds himself in need of sacrificing his only son because he feels so offended that only spilled blood will calm his divine anger.
    Therefore, if there is no atonement, the whole story of the death of Jesus for the redemption of the sin of Adam and Eve and of all those of future humanity, the necessary bespoken tomb and his triumphant final resurrection, lack historical foundation and even, theological.
    Most likely, Jesus died for simple human reasons and historical circumstances, surely revolutionary or due to intrigues and fights between Jews, and that he was buried in a common grave, along with others executed by Roman soldiers. After all, he was a simple human being who believed himself to be a special being, an enlightened Messiah avant-la-lettre at the wrong time and in the wrong place. Therefore, there was no rational historical reason for his incredible resurrection.

  3. Avatar
    MikeV2020  February 12, 2020

    The Hebrew Bible contains mysticism that led 2 Jews erroneously to believe they knew the timing of the Kingdom of God and their roles in the hoped for overthrow of evil which cost one his head and the other to suffer death on the cross. Another Jew had a “vision” as a result of these actions and used mysticism as a basis for starting a religion. If one rejects the reality of the trinity and divinity of Jesus mysticism that became a cornerstone of that religion then one must reject that religion. Further, since it is the mysticism of the Hebrew Bible that triggered the event how does one accept its validity? Does one reject the Jewish religion since burning bushes do not talk? How does the historian objectively view the events that are so intertwined with the mysticism and yet remain a theist?

    • Bart
      Bart  February 14, 2020

      My sense is that serious historians who remain theists often do not rely on a literal interpretation of the Bible. There could obvously be a God involved with the world if the Bible is completely problematic — or even if the Bible didn’t exist! The nature of the Bible and the existence of God are two completely different issues, in my opinion.

      • Avatar
        MikeV2020  February 14, 2020

        Professor Ehrman,

        Duh, thank you. I am staring at a tree while ignoring the forest. Slowly the pieces fall into place. The books/articles/posts you and Professor Tabor have written have been very educational and helpful.

        BTW, do you remember a Bill Bailey from your college days? Your name has come up in our discussions as someone very knowledgeable.

        • Bart
          Bart  February 16, 2020

          I don’t think I do. Which college? Probably would remember eventually! Possibly?

          • Avatar
            MikeV2020  February 16, 2020

            Princeton Theological Seminary — it has been a while. Just a passing thought.

          • Bart
            Bart  February 17, 2020

            Ah, makes sense.

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