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They Ain’t Who You Think: Prophets in the Old Testament

One of the problems with blogs on the New Testament, and in fact in understanding the New Testament at all, is that it is very difficult to explain what’s happening in the New Testament without assuming a lot of knowledge about the Old Testament, but even devoted students of the New Testament don’t know much at all about the Old Testament.  So where do you begin? I wanted to have a couple of posts on the differences between the understandings about the very basic question of “salvation” in Jesus and Paul; then I realized to explain either one I’d have to go over the basic ideas of Jewish apocalypticism; then it occurred to me that it would be useful to address the historical roots and development of apocalypticism; then I realized I couldn’t really do that without talking about the classical prophets of the Old Testament (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.).  But then it occurred to me that to do that I’d have to explain what “prophecy” even was in the OT, before the classical prophets. I [...]

2021-12-27T10:51:44-05:00January 11th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

The Famous Short Stories about Daniel

Here I continue and conclude my discussion of short stories in the Hebrew Bible, with some of the favorite Sunday School stories of all time, found in the book of Daniel.  Again, I draw here on my college textbook, The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. ****************************** The book of Daniel is counted among the Major Prophets of the English Bible, but in the Hebrew Bible it is not one of the prophets at all; it is included in the Writings. This is almost certainly because it was the last book of the Hebrew Bible to be written (as we will see later), and when it came to be placed in circulation and more widely known, the collection of Latter Prophets was already considered to be a closed canon, containing, like the Former Prophets, four scrolls: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and The Twelve. In some respects it makes sense that Daniel is included as a book among the prophets in English Bibles, both because the main character is portrayed making prophetic [...]

2021-12-26T11:13:19-05:00January 9th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Jewish Indifference to Jesus and the Problems it Caused: Guest Post by Dan Kohanski

As you know, Platinum members of the blog are allowed to submit posts for other Platinum members, and other members vote on which of them should be provided to the blog as a whole (It's a nice perk. You should think about moving up to Platinum.  There are other perks too--one, of course, is that you are contributing a larger amount to the charities we support!)   The most recent winner is this intriguing post by Dan Kohanski, about why most Jews had no interest in joining the Jesus movement. Dan will be happy to respond to your comments and questions. ****************************** Why did only a fraction of one percent of all Jews in the empire or even in Judaea ever believe in the message of the Jesus Movement?[1] The answer starts with that message itself. The first members of the Movement were all Jews themselves, saw themselves as Jews, and argued that Jewish traditions and beliefs inevitably led to their version of Judaism. However, the way they used those traditions and beliefs to solve the [...]

2021-12-24T03:55:56-05:00January 8th, 2022|Public Forum|

A New Course to Watch (Live!) Remotely: “In the Beginning”

I am pleased to announce that I will be doing a six-lecture online (recorded) course called: “In the Beginning:  History, Legend and Myth in the Pentateuch.  Part 1.  The Book of Genesis.”   This will not be in connection with the blog per se, but there is an important connection worth noting for blog members (see below). The plan is to make this course the first installment of a rather long series of courses that I am calling, “How Scholars Read the Bible.”  (The next six-lecture course – no surprise! – will be the rest of the Pentateuch after Genesis).  Each lecture in this course, and the ones that follow, will be thirty minutes of length. We will later be announcing the release date of the course (it will probably in February).   But I want to let you know about it now, so that it can be on your radar screen.  And because there is a special opportunity connected to it.  I will be delivering the lectures to a live audience (remotely), and anyone who purchases [...]

2022-01-06T17:04:16-05:00January 7th, 2022|Public Forum|

Did you know that Gold Members can get the full audio feed in their favorite Podcast Player?

Most of you probably know that gold members have access to the audio version of each post, but did you know that gold members can subscribe directly to the feed in their favorite podcast player? This is a convenient way to keep up with the blog.  Your podcast app will notify you when there are new posts available, and it can be set to automatically download them for later listening such as in the car or while out for a walk.  It will keep track of which posts you have listened to already so you can easily find new content. If you are interested in trying it out, first make sure you are a subscriber at the Gold (or Platinum) level.  Then, just follow the instructions here!:  How to Subscribe to the Bart Ehrman Audio Feed  

2022-01-06T17:06:44-05:00January 6th, 2022|Public Forum|

How I Begin My Book on Revelation

I have finished a draft of my book on Revelation and am now having readers take a look at it, both layreaders and experts.  Once I get their comments back I'll make revisions and then get it sent out to the publisher; the plan is to have it published in the spring of 2022. I may change all this, but here is how at this point I'm planning to start the book, in ch. 1. ****************************** I was expecting a good deal of culture shock when I moved to North Carolina in 1988.  I had spent ten years in New Jersey, four of them teaching at Rutgers University in New Brunswick.  It was a position I loved: teaching New Testament to students who were curious but not, as a rule, particularly invested in the subject before taking the class. Most of my students there were Roman Catholic, at least nominally; others were Jewish or completely secular.  Not many were Bible-reading evangelicals.  I was pretty sure things would be different in the south.  The University of [...]

2022-01-07T17:52:50-05:00January 6th, 2022|Public Forum|

Did Abraham Actually Do It? Did He Sacrifice His Son Isaac? Platinum Guest Post by Douglas Wadeson

Do you like controversy?  Well HERE'S some controversy for you.  Maybe Abraham actually went through with it and slew his son.  What?  Read on.  Here's a scintillating guest post by Platinum member Doug Wadeson.  I'm sure he'll answer your questions.  I'm sure if I were you I'd have some! Remember: you too can submit a guest post as a Platinum member, for other Platinum members.  And it has the potential of going out to the whole blog.  You don't need to be a scholar of the Bible or an expert on early Christianity to do it.  It can be on anything of relevance to the blog.  Give it a shot, send it to me; I'm happy to give you feedback if you'd like. For now, here's Doug's post. ******************************* Most Jews and Christians are familiar with the story of Abraham taking his son Isaac and almost sacrificing him to God on Mount Moriah.[1] It is called "the Binding" or “Akedah.” The usual understanding is that God was testing Abraham’s faith, but that He stepped in [...]

2022-01-06T11:52:34-05:00January 5th, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

My Pet Peeve: Simplistic Answers to Explain Suffering

In my last post I discussed two things that get under my skin in professional contexts, making me blow my top (to mix the metaphor):  ignorance posing as expertise (not just in biblical studies but generally) and facile answers, by “experts,” to the biggest personal/philosophical/religious problem people have to face, why there is suffering in the world if there is an all powerful and loving God in charge of it. As I pointed out, I have no problem with people in general not knowing lots of things.  I don’t know massive amounts of things.  But I at least acknowledge it and try not to pretend to be an expert in something I have only a casual knowledge of. And I have no objection to people having answers that make sense to them, explaining why they themselves, or those they love, or the millions of people they don’t know experience such misery and pain, suffering in extremis.  I do object when people who claim to be experts spread simplistic answers to difficult questions without bothering to [...]

2021-12-24T03:55:40-05:00January 5th, 2022|Bart's Debates, Reflections and Ruminations|

Bart Behaving Badly: Podcasts on the Problem of Suffering

I’m getting much more mellow and much less feisty the older I get, but, well, I still have my moments.  I’ve always loved a good argument and for most of my life I could get pretty intense when having one – even when it was about something that really was quite immaterial.  These days, though, I pretty much have a live and let live attitude.  In part I imagine that’s because I realize that all of us are probably wrong about lots of things (most?) and usually it doesn't much really matter, as long as being wrong doesn’t do anyone much harm.  Let the one without error be the first to cast a stone. But I’ve had a couple of bad experiences in the past month on podcasts I’ve done, when I wasn’t my usual affable self and I’ve been trying to figure out what set me off, making me rather hyper-confrontational and – can you believe it? – possibly (probably) pretty rude. As I’ve thought about it I’ve come to realize (or at least [...]

2021-12-22T07:37:20-05:00January 2nd, 2022|Bart's Debates, Reflections and Ruminations|
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