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Controversial Me….

I am having a ten-week long celebration of our ten-year anniversary, from this past April 18, by reposting all the previous April 18 posts, one a week.  Many of them I'd forgotten about.  This one is about how weird it is to me that people think I'm controversial....  (As usual, I'm a bit tetchy about it!) ****************************** In this post I am going to take a bit of time out to do some self-reflection.  An issue I’ve been puzzling over for some time is the fact that people keep referring to my work as “controversial.”  I hear this all the time.  And truth be told, I’ve always found it bit odd and a disconcerting.  This past week I’ve had two people tell me that they know that I “like to be controversial.”   That’s actually not the case at all.   One person told me that she had seen a TV show where someone had said that they didn’t believe that Jesus existed, and she thought that was right up my alley.  I didn’t bother to tell [...]

2022-05-30T03:29:02-04:00June 9th, 2022|Bart’s Biography|

Did Paul Write “Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians”?

Here's an important question I received recently from a blog member: Someone told me that “I should never listen to you” because you say Paul did not write six letters of the New Testament, even though the letters start with the claim he did:  "Paul, an Apostle of Christ to the Church at ….."  This person's main issue was: what is the evidence Paul did not write Ephesians? Your thoughts. Response This is an issue I dealt with directly in my book Forged: Why The Biblical Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2012).  Here's what I say there.  (If you are interested in the hard-core academic and detailed discussion of the evidence, I have a much fuller discussion in my book Forgery and Counterforgery) ****************************** When I was teaching at Rutgers in the mid 1980s, I regularly offered a course on the life and teachings of Paul.  One of the textbooks for the course was a book on Paul by a conservative British scholar named F. F. Bruce.[1]  I used the [...]

An Even More Unusual Story of What Happens to the Rich…

In my last post I began to discuss Jesus’ parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus from Luke 16) and I mentioned there is a very similar tale in ancient Egyptian lore, about a man named Setne and his adult son Si-Osire. In the story the two of them are looking out the window of their house and see the coffin of a rich man being carried out to the cemetery with great honors.  They then see the corpse of a poor beggar carried out on a mat, with no one attending his funeral.   Setne says to his son: “By Ptah, the great god, how much happier is the rich man who is honored with the sound of wailing than the poor man who is carried to the cemetery.”  Si-Osire surprises his father by telling him that the poor man will be much better off in the afterlife than the rich one.  He surprises him even more by proving it. He takes Setne down to the underworld, where they see how the unrighteous are punished, [...]

2022-05-31T10:52:29-04:00June 7th, 2022|Afterlife, Greco-Roman Religions and Culture|

Lazarus and the Rich Man: What To Do with Wealth

I’ve been thinking a good bit about the problem of wealth in the teachings of Jesus.  Among the passages that are obviously relevant is the famous parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man.  I talked about the story in my book Heaven and Hell (Simon and Schuster, 2020).  The following is a revised version of what I say there. The story appears in Luke 16:19-31 in the context of a number of parables and other sayings of Jesus.  In the parable Jesus contrasts the life and afterlife of an anonymous rich man and a destitute beggar named Lazarus.  The wealthy many is dressed in fine clothes and enjoys sumptuous meals every day.  Lazarus lies outside his gate, starving, desperate even to get the scraps off the rich man’s table.  The scene is pathetic:  dogs come up and lick Lazarus’s wounds. Both men die at about the same time.  Lazarus is Members of the blog get five posts a week in exchange for a small membership fee -- every penny of which goes to charity.  So [...]

2022-05-31T10:47:50-04:00June 5th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus|

Free Webinar on June 12! Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Actually Write Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?

Interested in a free lecture on who wrote the Gospels? As you may know, I’ve started doing some online courses on the Bible (and related topics) as part of my new venture, Bart Ehrman Professional Services (= BEPS).  This venture is not connected with the blog, but I do like to announce what is going on over there since a number of blog members have been interested. If you want to see what it all involves – and to see which courses are already available – you can find them on my personal website, The courses are for purchase, but I’ve decided to do a freebie for anyone interested.  It will be a live event on Sunday June 12, 2:00 pm ET; a recording of it will also be made available. The title of my talk:  “Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Actually Write Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John”?    Here's the link: If you'd like to officially register for the event (this is not necessary but if you do so, we will [...]

2022-06-07T20:01:09-04:00June 4th, 2022|Public Forum|

How Do You Get a Book Published??

I am celebrating the tenth year anniversary of the blog, this past April 18, with previous year's April 18 blog posts.  Here's the one from 2016 -- highly relevant to prospective authors.  How can you publish a book you've written? ****************************** I regularly get emails from people who want to break into publishing for the first time, who ask me “How can I get my book published?”  As I indicated in my previous posts, almost always what they have in mind is not a work of scholarship for scholars but a trade book for a general audience.  And so here is a weird fact about me: even though I have been publishing trade books for eighteen years, I’m not completely sure of the answer.  But I know some things, and in this post I’ll indicate what those things are. I absolutely know how one gets his or her first scholarly book published.  I help my graduate students, and other scholars just starting their careers, do that all the time.  There I’m an expert.  But a [...]

2022-05-26T12:16:59-04:00June 4th, 2022|Book Discussions, Public Forum|

You Mean Everyone (Except the Truly Destitute) Needs to Give? But How Much?

The Christians who began to say that (unlike in the Roman world) the rich ought to give to the poor did not come up with the idea themselves.  As we have seen, they were replicating (in a new form) what was found in the Hebrew Bible as taken up, as one would expect, by the historical Jesus.  But the Christians ran with the idea, and that ended up having a lasting effect on all of society and Western culture. The records of earliest Christianity are pretty clear:  everyone (not just the rich) needed to give in order to help those who were less fortunate.  According to the book of Acts, the members of the first community in Jerusalem sold everything and shared all things in common, so that no one was in need (Acts 2:43-45; 4:32-37).  This sounds like Jesus’ own vision, though whether Acts can be trusted to describe social reality soon after Jesus’ death is another question.  It is clear, however, that years later the churches of Paul, populated predominantly by those without [...]

A Christian NDE and the Problem with Being Filthy Rich

I have begun to describe the Acts of Thomas, the account of the apostle Thomas’s missionary journey to take Christianity to India.  After the author describes the apostle’s adventures en route to his destination, he gets to the heart of his story – which involves, among other things, an emphasis about what rich folk are supposed to do with their money if they want to be pleasing to God and have eternal life.  Again, this description is taken from my book Journeys to Heaven and Hell (Yale University Press, 2022). ****************************** When Thomas arrives in India he is introduced to King Gundaphorus, his new master, who has acquired him for his carpentry skills, which obviously run in the holy family.  Gundaphorus wants a new palace in a remote site and Thomas is perfect for the job: he works in wood and stone and has experience constructing regal dwellings. This Act is all about the distinctive kind of building he can make. The apostle draws a design for the structure, the king approves, bestows a hefty [...]

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