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My New Teaching Company Course

This weekend I am heading back up to the Washington D.C. area to do some consulting for my Teaching Company (also known as the Great Courses) course on “How Jesus Became God,” a course more or less based on my book of the same name due to be released at the end of March. I will be taping the course in February, over the course of six days spread over two long weekends. My normal procedure for doing these courses has been to record six lectures a day. That’s a killer, but on the upside, it’s over much faster! This time we couldn’t book the studio for that amount of time each day, so I’ll be doing four lectures a day, over six days. This will be my eighth course for the Teaching Company. Of the other seven, six have been, like this one, twenty-four lectures (each 30 minutes) in length. The other was twelve. By my math, that means I’ve done 156 lectures for them so far; by the end of this course it [...]

2020-04-03T17:39:48-04:00December 12th, 2013|Reflections and Ruminations, Teaching Christianity|

Jesus Final Exam

I have just finished grading my final exams for my undergraduate first-year seminar, Reli 070, “Jesus in Scholarship and Film.” I don’t ever recall teaching an undergraduate class that I enjoyed more. This was an amazingly bright and engaged group of twenty-one first-year students. The exams were superb – the best bunch I’ve ever seen. Some of them were stunningly good. (A few of the students are on the blog: you done good!) For the exam, I gave the students the following questions two weeks in advance, and told them I would choose two of them for the final. They would not know which two I would choose. They had three hours to write their essays. This year I rolled the dice, and chose questions #2 and #6. So –- how would *you* do? :-)   FOR THE REST OF THIS POST, log in as a Member. Click here for membership options. If you don't belong yet, GET WITH THE PROGRAM!!!  ***************************************************************************************** Reli 070 Potential Final Exam Questions For your final exam you [...]

2020-04-03T17:39:56-04:00December 10th, 2013|Historical Jesus, Jesus and Film, Teaching Christianity|

Infancy Gospel of Thomas: The Technical vs. the Interesting

A couple of days ago, in my post on my talks at the Smithsonian, I indicated that my first lecture included a discussion of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, and that in that kind of setting I have to choose carefully what I talk about. What I said in the post was: There are all sorts of things about this book that scholars are interested in that I won’t be going into, principally because they are things that non-scholars, frankly, are *not* all that interested in, and it’s impossible, in my view, to *make* them interested in them because, well, the issues are detailed and scholarly and not at all sexy…. A couple of readers indicated that they’d like to know what sorts of things those might be. So the following is what I say about this Gospel in my Introduction to the text in the scholarly version, Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations that I wrote, edited, and translated with my colleague Zlatko Plese. Some of you will be interested in this kind of detail; [...]

2020-11-24T19:01:25-05:00December 9th, 2013|Christian Apocrypha|

Taking Jesus the Wunderkind Seriously

I had a great time giving my lectures at the Smithsonian yesterday. Terrific crowd, very attentive, highly intelligent, great questions. And a completely exhausting day. Four lectures back to back is tough. So I came back to my room and did football, pizza, and beer all night, which was just what the doctor ordered. (I am a Dr., after all) The first lecture, as I indicated in my previous post, was on the Infancy Gospels, or at least on two of them, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Proto-Gospel of James (Protevangelium Jacobi). I have already summarized some of the stories of the Infancy Gospel, and have pointed out the obvious, that on a casual reading Jesus certainly seems to be a bit of a brat. Or at least a miracle-working son of God who as an immature boy does not seem to have his powers under control and behaves with a real mischievous streak. But I also indicated that there are scholars who call that understanding of the text into question. I’m not [...]

2020-04-03T17:40:14-04:00December 8th, 2013|Christian Apocrypha|

Jesus: L’enfant terrible?

I just (now) flew into Washington D.C., to give four lectures tomorrow (count them, four) on “The Other Gospels” at the Smithsonian. Each lecture is about an hour, followed by 15 minutes of Q & A. It’ll be a grueling day. I do these Smithsonian things once or twice a year on average. They’re great – 160 adults who have paid good money and devoted an entire day to hearing lectures on a topic important to them. It’s a terrific audience, wide-ranging, highly intelligent, educated, and curious -- real a shift from teaching 19-year old college kids. I enjoy both kinds of audience very much – but (some) more things can be assumed in this setting and, well, the humor has to change. :-) I normally do these Smithsonian talks when a new book has come out, and so this is to be about the new edition of The Other Gospels that just appeared. I’ve decided that my lectures will be on four different Gospels/types of Gospels, and maybe I’ll blog a bit about them. [...]

2020-04-03T17:40:26-04:00December 6th, 2013|Christian Apocrypha|

Video: Ehrman & Evans 2012 Debate – Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I posted a debate that I had with Craig Evans, an evangelical Christian New Testament scholar.   That debate was held at Saint Mary's University in Nova Scotia.   The next night we had a second debate -- on the same topic (!) but in a different location, at Acadia University, where Craig currently teaches in the Acadia Divinity College.   The topic, again, was "Does the New Testament Present a Historically Reliable Portrait of Jesus." I was hesitant to post this debate on the blog, since it's on the same topic as the other one.   But I watched it and saw that I actually make my case differently this time, as does he.   So, what the heck -- you can start watching it and if it sounds like old hat, you can stop!  But in a way it's interesting how we changed our presentations, in no small measure because we had heard the night before what they other guy was going to argue.... Please adjust gear icon for 720p High-Definition: See first video [...]

2017-09-16T22:16:57-04:00December 5th, 2013|Bart's Debates, Historical Jesus, Public Forum, Video Media|

Jesus the Magician

Some of you will be familiar with the work of Morton Smith, especially on the “Secret Gospel of Mark.” I may have posted a few bits on it at some point. Smith was a brilliant scholar, always the smartest guy in the room. And he knew it. He had a rapier wit and was not afraid to use it. He regularly bloodied people – even internationally famous scholars – who disagreed with him. I met him only a couple of times, when I was a lowly graduate student and he was a mighty professor at Columbia. He really was the real deal. Unbelievably learned and uncanilly knowledgeable about all things antiquity. One of his “popular” books was Jesus the Magician. A great book, even if you disagree with it. A new edition is coming out (it was published in 1978 – 35 years ago now!). And the publisher has asked me to write a brief Introduction to it. I was honored and flattered. Here is a draft of what I have in mind for it: [...]

2020-04-25T18:33:03-04:00December 5th, 2013|Historical Jesus|

The Giving Season

  The season of giving has come upon us!   I have to admit, even though I am not a Christian, I absolutely love the Christmas season.   I know there are a lot of things wrong with Christianity, just as there are with every religion.   The harm, the evil, done in the name of Christ is enough to make my skin crawl.  But at the same time, there is a lot of good, and I see no reason to deny it.   At its very best, Christianity is all about giving:  God giving his son, his son giving himself, his followers giving themselves to one another, and even to strangers in need -- giving of themselves and their worldly goods for the sake of  others.    This is the part of Christianity – which I consider to be true Christianity at its heart – that I completely resonate with and cherish, even though I no longer consider myself to be among the faithful….. The Christmas season is a giving season.  I completely detest the crass materialism.  But the [...]

2017-09-16T22:22:37-04:00December 4th, 2013|Public Forum|

A Third View of Jesus’ Body at the Resurrection

This will be my final post on the early Christian understandings of the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body. I have tried to show that Paul believed that Jesus’ actual body came out of the tomb, but as a spiritual, immortal body – completely transformed; other Christians, including groups of Gnostics, maintained that Jesus’ spirit lived on even though his body decomposed and ceased to exist (like all other bodies) In this final post I deal with another extreme in the opposite direction, one found already in the New Testament, possibly in order to oppose the idea that Jesus was raised only in spirit but not in body. Again, this is an extract from my forthcoming book How Jesus Became God. ************************************************************************************ The Raising of the Mortal Body We don’t know how early such full-blown Gnostic views came to expression in the Christian movement; they were certainly in place by the middle of the second century, and possibly earlier. But there were tendencies toward such views already in the New Testament period. If my reconstruction of [...]

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