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My New Testament Syllabus

  The new semester started today.   Here I am, 58 years old, and still organizing my life around semesters…. In any event, I’m teaching my regular two-course load this semester.  My undergraduate class is the Introduction to the New Testament that I teach every Spring, with 240 students; my graduate seminar is a graduate level course basically about the same thing, covering (at a graduate level) the major issues in New Testament studies and the history of the discipline, all with an eye toward pedagogy (i.e., how to teach this material to undergraduates).  It will have about ten students. I’ll have more to say about each course anon.  For now, here is my syllabus for the undergraduate class, for your amusement and reading pleasure. INTRODUCTION TO THE NEW TESTAMENT    Reli 104   Spring, 2014 Instructor:  Dr. Bart D. Ehrman Teaching Assistants: Candace Buckner, Brian Coussens, Shaily Patel, Nathan Schradle Course Description This course is designed to help you (a) learn about the New Testament writings and the history of earliest Christianity and (b) develop [...]

2017-12-25T12:41:54-05:00January 9th, 2014|Public Forum, Teaching Christianity|

Final Loose Threads on the Zealot Hypothesis

I think I’ve gone on about Aslan’s Zealot long enough. Maybe more than long enough, many of you may think. My plan is to make this the last post. Let me reiterate that I think it is an exceptionally well-written, engaging book, and we can all be thankful to Aslan for bringing important historical issues about Jesus to the public attention. I may think that he’s wrong about his central thesis, and I may recognize a lot of errors in his book (about history, about the NT, about early Christianity). But I appreciate very much that he has gotten people talking about Jesus from a historical perspective – something that I think is of utmost importance, especially in our American context where Jesus typically is only spoken of by believers who do not appreciate the importance of history for knowing, well, about the past! In this final post I want to speak about a couple of threads, loose traditions that are sometimes used to argue that Jesus was most likely a zealot, someone who was [...]

2020-04-03T17:36:17-04:00January 8th, 2014|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus|

Jesus’ Crucifixion as King of the Jews

It is often said that one of the best pieces of evidence that Jesus is to be understood as a political insurgent who favored the overthrow of the Roman empire by means of (human) force is that he was crucified on charges of political insurgency. If he was charged with insurgency, he was probably an insurgent. There is, of course, a powerful logic to this view, but it has its flaws, and an alternative explanation actually works better. In terms of flaws, it needs to be noted and emphasized that in our sources the other two people crucified with Jesus were called lestai (sometimes translate “robbers” – but Josephus uses it to refer to someone engaged in guerrilla warfare against the ruling authorities, an armed insurgent). So too in the Gospel of John, Barabbas – the one the crowds preferred to Jesus – is also called a lestes. But – here’s the *big* point: Jesus is NOT called a lestes in these accounts. Ever. And he is not condemned to death –as are these others [...]

2020-04-03T17:36:30-04:00January 6th, 2014|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus|

Jesus and the Temple

Back to Aslan’s Zealot. I will not be going on forever, but I do want to make a few final posts. So far I have shown that the book is filled with mistakes, some of them important, about the ancient world, about the New Testament, and about early Christianity. These are simply errors, things (I tried to show) that Aslan just got wrong. After that I tried to show why the thesis itself was highly problematic by taking on his lead chapter and showing just why the claims he makes don’t “work” historically. And then, most recently, I’ve shown why scholars have widely opted for a solution that differs from Aslan’s view that Jesus is best seen as one totally zealous for the law and the land of Israel to the extent that he favored a military overthrow of the Roman empire as foreign occupiers. The alternative is that Jesus instead was a preacher of apocalyptic doom. It was not by military force that the enemy would be defeated, but by an act of God, [...]

2020-04-03T17:36:41-04:00January 3rd, 2014|Book Discussions, Historical Jesus|

Looking Ahead to 2014 on the Blog

I’d like to take the opportunity of the New Year to look ahead with you on matters related to the blog.   My idea for this post is to tell you what my goals for the coming year are and what challenges we are (or that I am) facing, and then to ask a couple of questions from you, the members, about how best to proceed. Goals and Challenges I have several different goals for the blog this coming year. Financial.   This past year, as I indicated in my past post, we pulled in $61,000.   That is a significant increase over the previous year.   I would like to keep the increase going, and have as a target $70,000 for 2014.   This will obviously mean acquiring significantly more members; keeping the members we have; and hopefully increasing the number of donations from people who are already members.  On that final point, there are some people who generously give everything from $25 and up.  I appreciate more than I can say, from each and every one of your [...]

2014-01-03T23:38:20-05:00January 2nd, 2014|Public Forum|

End of the Year Blog Reflection

  Here at the end of the year, on this New Year’s Eve, I’m reflecting on the blog and how it has gone over the past 12 months.   I’d say this has been a fantastic year.   Every now and then (like, every ten minutes) I wonder if it is really worth all the time and effort.  I’ve continued to post five or six times a week (usually six), and each post is about 1000 words long.   But in addition, I need to approve all the comments that come in, and respond to the ones that have asked for a response.  Altogether it takes about an hour of my day.  On one hand, that doesn’t seem like much – hey, it’s only an hour!   On the other hand, I already don’t have enough hours in the day.   We need longer days and more days in the week!  I’ve often wished there could be some kind of trade-off system, where people who are bored with nothing to do, for whom the hours and days drag on and [...]

2014-01-01T00:56:39-05:00January 1st, 2014|Public Forum|
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