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Revelation and Ancient Views of Dominance

In my previous post I discussed whether the fact that Revelation is filled with symbolism and not to be taken literally should affect our evaluation of its presentation of violence and domination.  Now I move on to ask whether its views reflect those of Jesus himself.   I resume where I left off: ****************************** To say that this is all “just a story” is to miss the point rather spectacularly.  The story conveys a message, an understanding of right and wrong and of what really matters before the Almighty.  The book celebrates judgment, bloody vengeance, and divine wrath – not love, mercy, forgiveness, or reconciliation.  In the end, the Lamb who was once bloodied avenges his blood a thousand-fold.  For John, Christ came the first time in meekness, but he is coming back in power.  History will be guided by the vengeance and wrath of God and his Lamb. Is this what Jesus thought?  I obviously cannot provide an analysis of the historical Jesus’ teachings in the time I have left.  But I will stress that [...]

Wanna join this month’s book club reading? Check it out!

Our COO and organizer of all things blog, Diane Pittman, has sent along this announcement of the upcoming Book Club event, a two-parter that sounds unusually interesting.  If it's interesting, are you interested?   Here it is! ****************************** It's BACK...It's BOLD...It's BIGGER than ever...(Well, not really, but it'll be as much fun as it usually is.)   It's the Bart Ehrman Blog Book Club #3 (BBC 3).   Click here to sign up and get the Zoom link.   If you've never had a chance to participate in one of our BBCs, this will be a perfect introduction. Every person, regardless of your beliefs, is welcome. In honor of the Passover/Passion week, we will be reading just one book: "The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach Us About Jesus's Final Days in Jerusalem" by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. This book was recommended for us by Bart. Click on link to order directly from Amazon; you may also be able to find it at your local library.   Because Passion week is the [...]

2022-04-05T14:39:57-04:00April 4th, 2022|Public Forum|

Understanding the Old Testament! Joshua – 2 Kings as the Deuteronomistic History

I recently received a question about the books of Joshua and Judges: when were they written?  They are fascinating books -- flat out GREAT stories in them -- and need to be placed in the historical context of their author to be understood.  But when was that, and what ideas were guiding his narrative? I discuss such issues in my textbook The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction, right after my coverage of the Pentateuch.  Here is what I say there. ****************************** As we move now beyond the Pentateuch, we come to another collection of historical writings in the Hebrew Bible.   Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings are usually thought of and treated as a group of books, probably all written by the same author (or group of authors).  These books narrate the life of Israel once it comes to the Promised Land, as it conquers the peoples already dwelling there, divides up the land, lives in the land as a group of tribes, comes to be ruled by kings, and eventually [...]

2022-07-03T16:14:43-04:00April 3rd, 2022|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Reader’s Questions|

Why I Am Not A Christian: Is Bart Ehrman a Christian?

A lot of people wonder why I am not a Christian? Is Bart Ehrman a a very popular question. Just now – fifteen minutes ago – I came to realize with the most crystal clarity I have ever had why I am not a Christian. Of course, as most of you know, I have not called myself a Christian publicly for a very long time, twenty years or so I suppose. But a number of people tell me that they think at heart I’m a Christian, and I sometimes think of myself as a Christian agnostic/atheist. Their thinking, and mine, has been that if I do my best to follow the teachings of Jesus, in some respect I’m a Christian, even if I don’t believe that Jesus was the son of God....or that he was raised from the dead, or even that God exists. In fact, I don’t believe all these things. But can’t I be a Christian in a different sense, one who follows Jesus’ teachings? Fifteen minutes ago I realized with startling [...]

If Revelation is All Symbolic, Why Would the Violence *Matter*?

I've been presenting a lecture I gave to a regional meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature recently on the violence of the book of Revelation.  In my previous post I talked about a passage that strikes me as excessively ugly, which discusses Jesus' treatment of the prophetess Jezebel (a Christian leader/teacher) from the church of Thyatira.   At this point in my lecture I move on from detailing aspects of the violence of the text to considering its significance. ****************************** Most of Revelation, of course, is not about what will happen to Christians that John considers wayward, but to those outside the church who suffer incomprehensible catastrophes and are eventually tossed alive into a lake of burning sulfur. But why would it have to be this way, even if God is just and decides to avenge his persecuted or even martyred followers and to wipe out the masses of the ungodly?  Couldn’t he simply give them a simultaneous and fatal coronary?  Or just disintegrate them with a cosmic ray gun?  Not for John.  The wrath [...]

2022-03-30T10:32:06-04:00April 2nd, 2022|Revelation of John|

A LOTTERY!! To CELEBRATE the Blog’s 10-Year Blogiversary!

I am very pleased to announce that the Blog's ten-year anniversary is on April 18!   We have been going at it this whole time, ten years, non-stop!  HA!   Tempus is fugiting.... We are celebrating the upcoming date in a variety of ways.  There will be at least one celebratory event,  special announcements, reposting of favorite posts from years gone by, and a couple of fundraisers.   Today I announce the first fundraiser.   A LOTTERY with prizes, with all proceeds going to disaster relief in Ukraine. As to the Lottery:  Each ticket is $10 and you can buy as many  as you like.  So if you want to have a shot (see prizes below), buy one!  If you want to increase the odds, buy more.  The limit to the number you can buy is ....  well, it is limitless. Tickets can be purchased UNTIL MIDNIGHT APRIL 18 (the anniversary date itself). ALL of the money will go to Ukraine relief, through one of the two charities we support that are doing amazing work in this most horrible [...]

2022-04-02T05:34:59-04:00April 1st, 2022|Public Forum|

Did Nazareth Exist?

One question I repeatedly get asked is about my opinion on whether the town of Nazareth actually existed.  I was puzzled when I started getting emails on this, some years ago now.  What I came to realize is that mythicists (i.e., those who think that there never was a man Jesus; he was invented, a “myth”) commonly argue that Nazareth (like Jesus) was completely made up. I still get the emails today – a couple within the past month.   I tried to deal with this issue at length in my book Did Jesus Exist?   But since I get asked the question still, apparently by people who haven’t read my book (!) – I thought I would repeat some of what I say there.  Here is an excerpt on the issue: Did Nazareth Exist - Jesus' Hometown One supposedly legendary feature of the Gospels commonly discussed by mythicists is that the alleged hometown of Jesus, Nazareth did not exist but is itself a myth.  The logic of this argument, which is sometimes advanced with considerable vehemence and force, [...]

2023-03-15T15:27:53-04:00April 1st, 2022|Historical Jesus, Mythicism, Reader’s Questions|
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