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Gold Members Only Audio Q&A

Dear Gold Members, As you know, one of your perks is a monthly audio version of a Q&A, designed and created just for you.  Only those with Gold privileges can participate and benefit..  You submit the Q's and I do the A's.  Interested?   Now we are set to do the first one. I will announce later the date on which it will be available, but first we have to make it!  For that to happen we need questions.   Want to submit one? Here are the rules.  You will be allowed to submit *one* question per month.  We will collect questions until Friday January 15.   Your question can relate to anything connected to the blog.  It should be relatively concise (not a page long) and an actual question, not a comment or disquisition on a topic you want the world to consider.   You should send you question NOT to me, and NOT as a comment on this post, but to my assistant, Diane Pittman <[email protected]>; she will collect and collate them, and we will decide which [...]

2021-01-11T21:55:37-05:00January 9th, 2021|Public Forum|

Platinum Members Webinar!

Dear Platinum Members, As you know, one of the perks of having Platinum membership is that I will be doing a Platinum-only webinar four times a year.   I now want to announce the first one, ever.   It will be held on Thursday, January 21, 7:00 pm EST.   Some of you will be rejoicing that day (from the previous one), some will be in mourning.  But we ain't gonna talk about it. Instead, we're gonna talk about something related to the blog.  The webinar will last 75 minutes: I will give a talk for 40-45 minutes, and after that I will answer questions.   The webinar is open to all Platinum members, and only to them. What should the topic be?   Below are three options.   I will let you vote!  If you would like to do so, please send an email to my assistant, Diane Pittman <[email protected]>; you don't need to say anything to her, just tell her which of these topics you would prefer hearing.  Majority rules! 1.  Does the Book of Revelation Predict Our Future? [...]

2021-01-10T18:37:34-05:00January 9th, 2021|Platinums|

One of the Most Significant Passages in the NT: Paul’s Christ Poem

In my previous post I began to speak about the “incarnation” Christology found famously in Paul’s letter to the Philippians, 2:6-11.  There are a lot of other things I want to say about this passage, all of them relevant to the issues I’ve been discussing.  The first and most important thing is that it has been widely recognized by scholars for a very long time that this passage is something that Paul appears to be quoting, that it is not simply part of the prose letter.  Moreover, it is frequently called (probably wrongly) a “hymn” (that’s probably wrong because – as I’ve been told by an expert in the field of ancient music, it doesn’t actually scan as music).   But in any event, it is highly structured in a balanced fashion and thus seems to be more like a poem than like prose.  The reasons for thinking that Paul is quoting rather than composing it are pretty compelling, and I will get to them eventually.  For now I want to point out the rhythmic structure. [...]

2021-01-28T10:30:58-05:00January 9th, 2021|Early Christian Doctrine, Paul and His Letters|

How the Trinity Got Into the New Testament: Part 2

I continue now with the story of how the doctrine of the Trinity as stated in 1 John 5:7 (the only passage in the entire Bible that states that there are three divine figures and “these three are one”) was actually not originally part of 1 John – or the Bible at all.  It was a later addition.  But how did it come into the King James Bible then?  Read on! This is how I explained it in my book Misquoting Jesus.  (If you haven’t read the previous post, it provides some background) (it also does even if you did read it).   ************************** Even though the Complutensian Polyglot was the first printed edition of the Greek New Testament, it was not the first published version.  As I pointed out, even though the work was printed by 1514, it did not actually see the light of published day until 1522.  Between those two dates a famous and enterprising Dutch scholar, the humanist intellectual Desiderius Erasmus, both produced and published an edition of the Greek New [...]

How the Trinity Got Into the New Testament

In my previous post I began to discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that the godhead comprises three distinct persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, all of whom are completely and equally God, with no one superior to the others, all of whom have existed forever, and all of whom are of the same essence/substance.  But these three are actually one.  So there is only one God, but he is manifest in three persons. I maintained in the post that this doctrine is not taught in the New Testament, but I pointed out there is one apparent exception, depending on which translation you are reading.  In the King James Version you will find the following passage in the letter of 1 John: There are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, and these three are one; and there are three that bear witness on earth, the Spirit, the water and the blood, and these three are one (1 John 5:7-8). That first part does [...]

2021-01-02T16:35:34-05:00January 7th, 2021|Early Christian Doctrine, New Testament Manuscripts|

Is the Trinity in the Bible?

I recently did a webinar discussing the origins of the doctrine of the Trinity.  It’s an issue that I am often asked about.  Where did the idea come from?  How does it work?  If God the Father is God, Christ is God, and the Spirit is God – how is it that Christians don’t have three Gods? And if they have three Gods, aren’t they polytheists?  On the other hand, if Christians want to insist there is only one God, and that they are monotheists, how can they say that Jesus and God are both God, let alone the Spirit?  If they are both, or all three, God, then there is not just one God!  So what’s going on with this Trinity business? It’s an involved question, and I’ve decided to make a series of posts on the question.  Let me start by making sure we are all on the same page when it comes to what the doctrine of the Trinity involves.  This is important because a lot of people assume that if they [...]

No Virgin Births? Then How Were Demi-gods Born In Antiquity?

In my previous post I pointed out that there do not appear to be any instances in the other religions of antiquity of a virgin birth – where a woman gives birth without having sex.  In this post I’ll lay out the more typical view of how a “son of God” came into the world.  It very much does involve sex.  Most of the post will deal with one (very funny) story in particular which is emblematic of the rest.  For this post I will quote a section from my recent book, How Jesus Became God.  ******************************  Even though Apollonius of Tyana was understood to be a pre-existent god come in the flesh, that is not the normal Greek or Roman way of understanding how a divine human could be born of a mortal.  By far the more common view was that a divine being comes into the world – not having existed prior to birth – because a god has had sex with a human, and the offspring then is in some sense divine.  [...]

2020-12-26T00:16:10-05:00January 5th, 2021|Greco-Roman Religions and Culture|

What About All Those *Other* Virgin Births in Antiquity?

I have devoted several posts to the issue of Jesus’ virgin birth, as recounted in Matthew and Luke.  As I pointed out, there is no account of Jesus’ virgin birth in the Gospel of John, and it appears that the idea is actually argued *against* (implicitly) in the Gospel of Mark. As happened last time I did a thread like this, several readers have asked me (or told me) about the similarities to the virgin birth stories in pagan texts, where a son of God, or demi-god, or, well, some other rather amazing human being, is said to have been born of a virgin.  Aren’t the Christians simply borrowing a widely held view found among the pagans, that if someone is the son of God (e.g., Hercules, or Dionysus, or Asclepius, etc.), his mother is always thought to have been a virgin? As it turns out, that’s not the case at all. I don’t know of any parallel to ... Want to be well informed?  Keep reading.  Not a member of the blog?  Join!  Costs [...]

With Respect to Others Who Did Not Like My Newsweek Article

When the editor at Newsweek asked me if I would be willing to write an article on the birth of Jesus, I was hesitant and wrote him back asking if he was sure he really wanted me to do it.  I told him that I seem to be incapable of writing anything that doesn’t stir up controversy.  It must be in my blood.  Still, he said that they knew about my work and were not afraid of controversy, and they did indeed want an article from me. What’s interesting to me is that I’ve been getting it from all sides. I don’t know why that should surprise me. It seems to be the story of my life. For years my agnostic and atheist readers were cheering me on from the sidelines as I talked about the problems posed by a critical study of the New Testament: there are discrepancies and contradictions, the Gospels are not written by eyewitnesses, and the stories they contain were modified over time, and many of them were invented in the [...]

2020-12-26T00:19:20-05:00January 2nd, 2021|Bart's Critics, Canonical Gospels|
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