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Another Book by “Peter” That Could Have Become Scripture

In this thread I’m discussing several Christian books that were considered by some early groups of believers and church leaders to be bona fide Scripture – written by apostles and inspired by God.  All of the books I’m discussing were written by authors who were claiming to be Jesus’ closest disciple, Peter.  But eventually church fathers became convinced otherwise, and the books were relegated to the trash heap of Christian curiosities. Here’s one that has become known only in modern times and that has intrigued readers – both scholars and lay folk.  What exactly did church leaders find objectionable about it?  It was an account of Jesus’ life, a Gospel.   ******************************   The Gospel of Peter:  A Book That Had Some Supporters One of the other books found in the small anthology discovered in Akhmim also claimed to be written by Peter, and it too was considered a book of Scripture by at least some Christians.  But, like the Apocalypse, it also lost favor and disappeared from sight.  This one, however, was a Gospel. [...]

2022-07-18T15:11:21-04:00July 31st, 2022|Book Discussions, Christian Apocrypha|

Does God Create People to Roast in Hell? Anniversary Guest Post by Jason Staples

I am publishing a series of guest posts that have been generously contributed to the blog in honor of our ten-year anniversary.  Each post is written by a recognized expert in our field who has previously made guest posts for us.  This one comes from Jason Staples, my erstwhile PhD student who now teaches at North Carolina State and whose (long!) dissertation has turned into TWO separate monographs, the first already published by Cambridge University Press (The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism), and the other now forthcoming from Cambridge (focusing on Paul). Here, after some much-appreciated kind words, Jason deals with an unusually important and little-understood topic, of ultimate relevance to us all! ****************************** Thanks to multiple best-selling books, Bart is one of the few widely recognized names in the field of biblical studies, and when people learn I did my training under his guidance, I invariably get asked, “so, what was that like?”  Many of the more conservative-leaning Christians are surprised when I tell them the truth: it would be difficult to [...]

2022-07-18T15:05:00-04:00July 30th, 2022|Paul and His Letters, Public Forum|

A Book That Nearly Became Scripture: The Apocalypse of Peter

As I indicated in my previous post, I’m planning to write a book (after the one on charity in early Christianity) explaining how we got the canon of the New Testament.  Who choose the books?  On what grounds?  And when? I continue the thoughts I’m laying out in my prospectus here, in the first of four case studies – a book that almost made it in.   ******************************     Four Vignettes to Explain the Issues To illustrate some of the major issues, to show how the process worked, to give a sense of the historical disputes, and to show their inherent interest, I here provide four vignettes, all involving books that explicitly claim to be written by the apostle Peter.  Peter is Jesus’ closest disciple and confident in the Gospels.  No one could carry more authority for explaining Jesus’ teachings and his plans for his followers after his death.  It comes as no surprise, then, to find a number of early Christian books that claim to be written by Peter.  Two of them are [...]

2022-07-18T14:52:55-04:00July 28th, 2022|Book Discussions, Christian Apocrypha, Public Forum|

And Then My NEXT Book Project: How Did We Get the Canon of the NT?

In my most recent thread I laid out my thoughts on my next book (what I *think* will be my next book) on how Christian views of charity helped revolutionize ancient (and as a consequence, modern) society. Now I will begin a series on my thoughts for my book after that.  Throughout the past ten or fifteen years I’ve always thought two books ahead; that way when I’m writing a book, in my down time I can be thinking a bit about the next one.  It’s kind of pleasant, actually, since there is no pressure on my thoughts – I haven’t even starting to work on it yet! As I may have mentioned already, I will probably propose a two-book deal to my publisher, that is to have a contract for two books instead of one.  That way my thinking can be even more serious about #2.   I’ve done that a couple of times before.  The first time, it happened (Triumph of Christianity and Heaven and Hell) and the second time, the publisher didn’t go [...]

2022-07-18T14:46:42-04:00July 27th, 2022|Book Discussions, Christian Apocrypha|

Is It Even Possible to Follow Jesus’ Teaching? What Do You Think?

Here is a post where I raise a fundamental question that I find very hard to answer.  I will not be able to respond to all your reflections, but I will read them all and am very eager to see what you have to say. In connection with my next book I’ve been reading a lot of writings by the church fathers from the 2-5th centuries to see what they have to say about giving away wealth.  A big issue for some of these writers was whether committed Christians should give away *everything* to the poor, or rather keep most of their wealth but still be generous in their giving. Throughout history, of course, most Christians have been (and still are) attracted to the second option.  I’ve argued in previous posts, however, that Jesus appears to have taken the first, urging his followers to divest completely and live lives of abject poverty.  It’s not an attractive option, and very few see the point of it – to the extent that most people simply say that [...]

2022-07-27T10:33:15-04:00July 26th, 2022|Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

Specious Arguments for the Truth of the Bible

Professors who have taught the same subject for decades often get tired with covering the same material time after time and, as a result, answering the same questions time after time.  I've had friends who teach New Testament tell me: "If I have to teach the Synoptic Problem ONE MORE TIME I am going to SCREAM…." I've never felt that way. It's probably just a matter of personality and brain chemistry.  For me, teaching someone who doesn't know something that I’ve taught for many years just means they haven’t had the chance to learn it. It’s the same outside the classroom with questions/comments I get – the same questions all the time. I’ll admit that often in the first nano-second I sometimes think: Why don’t they just GET IT?  But then I remember: Wait a second.  This person hasn't heard the answer.... Here is a question that comes to me all the time.  I got it again a few days ago.   QUESTION: I have a brief question. I was a biblical studies major in college [...]

2022-07-27T10:26:09-04:00July 24th, 2022|Bart's Critics, New Testament Manuscripts|

Doing Critical Scholarship as a Committed Christian: Anniversary Guest Post by Jeffrey Siker

As part of our ten -year anniversary on the blog, we requested special anniversary posts from scholars who had, over the years, made guest contributions; our instructions were that they could post on any topic of their choice for the event.  We had a gratifying number of scholar-colleagues-friends of mine graciously respond.  I'll be posting one of them a week, and then at the end figure out a way to combine them into one big kind of anniversary blog post e-book for distribution. Here is the first in line, written by one of my closest friends Jeff Siker, Professor Emeritus at Loyola Marymount University, an expert in New Testament studies publishing in international venues since our graduate student days oh so many decades ago.  Jeff is an ordained Presbyterian minister who, like me, has trouble understanding why so many people seem to think that critical scholarship is necessarily inimical to being a Christian.  On the contrary, as he says, he has one foot in the academy and the other in the church. Here are some [...]

Did Christians Invent Hospitals?

This will be the last of my posts on this thread, connected with what I hope is my next book, that I’m calling tentatively, The Creation of Charity: How Christianity Transformed our World.  Here I talk about one of the lesser-known aspects of early Christianity – a surprising one to most people. Arguably the most important development in the Christian history of charity came in the institutionalization of giving, not on the governmental level but through extra-mural ecclesiastical organizations.  Of these, none proved more historically significant than the invention of the hospital. Most health care in the Greek and Roman worlds took place in the home, with families bearing the responsibility of nursing the sick.  That, of course, is not the most effective mode of health care, but even simple nursing often produces salubrious results.  Certainly, there were doctors trained in medical science who attended the sick, but these were private initiatives and as a rule benefited only with those of means.  Doctors worked as individuals, out of their homes or through home-visitations to those who [...]

2022-07-11T14:33:45-04:00July 21st, 2022|History of Christianity (100-300CE), Public Forum|

Were Early Christians Really Charitable? Or Was It All Talk?

In this thread on “charity” in early Christianity I’ve been discussing what the Christian writers said about the importance of giving money to those in need.  But did all this preaching have any real-life effect on anything? In his classical discussion of wealth in antiquity, Paul Veyne pointed out that it is important to “distinguish carefully between the ethic that a society practices…and the ethic that this society professes.  The two ethics usually have little in common.” (Bread and Circuses, p. 25)  To this point I have been discussing early Christian rhetoric.  But what about its practice? There is solid evidence that the rhetoric had at least some effect on the ground, and I will be arguing that over time the effect was highly significant.  I have already mentioned Paul’s collection for the poor in Jerusalem.  This was a real action in real time, and it set a pattern for times to come.  Some fifty years after Paul the ... Blog membership gives you the chance to read this entire post -- and all [...]

2022-07-11T14:05:22-04:00July 20th, 2022|History of Christianity (100-300CE)|

Did Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Write Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John? Free video.

As you may know, I have started producing a series of online courses that consider in a systematic way how historical scholars understanding the Bible.  These are not connected with the blog, but are a separate activity I have for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services (BEPS; website:   In June I did a freebie as part of the series and invited all blog members to come.  Many did!   If you missed it, or would like to see it again,  just click this link! It's a 50 minute talk, with Q&A following, on one of the important issues confronting readers of the New Testament:  were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John written by Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John?   When did the Gospels start being called that?  Why don't the authors actually identify themselves?  Is there evidence for these attributions?  In short, how would we know.   Take a watch, and let me know if you have more questions!

2022-07-05T10:55:52-04:00July 19th, 2022|Canonical Gospels|

Announcing a New Live Course on the Gospels! Interested?

I am pleased to announce that I will be doing another online course, the second in the series: How Scholars Read the Bible.  The first, if you recall, was a six-lecture course on Genesis.  This one will be an eight-lecture course called:  The Unknown Gospels:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As with all the courses I do online, this one will NOT be in connection with the blog per se – it is part of my separate venture (Bart Ehrman Professional Services) that you can find at my personal website   I am announcing it here on the blog because I know some of blog members will be interested (and some would be rather aggravated if I didn’t mention it….). I will be giving the course live on Saturday August 6 and Sunday August 7 (four 30-minute lectures each day; each day’s session followed by a live Q&A).  You don’t need to come to the live sessions to purchase the course; those who do come will also receive the recorded version. I see this [...]

2022-07-22T19:08:54-04:00July 18th, 2022|Public Forum|

Our Platinum Webinar! Tuesday July 19.

I'm looking forward to our re-rescheduled Platinum-Onlies Webinar on Tuesday!     Topic:  Peter and Paul: The Dueling Apostles     Time:  7:30 - 9:00 pm.     Link: Meeting ID: 834 5746 3872 Passcode: 334283         Hope to see you there! = Bart

2022-07-19T12:02:37-04:00July 17th, 2022|Public Forum|

How Could Jesus Be BOTH Divine and Human at Once? An Intriguing Ancient View

This now is my tenth and final April 18 anniversary post.  The blog started on April 18, 2012, and with this post I will finish all the previous posts from April 18.   This one, from 2021, is especially interesting for anyone intrigued by early Christian attempts to figure out who Christ was.  God?  Human?  Half of each?  Both at once?  How's *that* work??? ****************************** In this long thread on the Trinity I have been trying to explain how Christians came to the view that Jesus was God but that he was separate from God the Father – that both were God, but they were two different persons, and yet there was only one God.  I will have far less to say about the Spirit, since he/she/it got added to the mix more or less because Christ was already in it, as we will see. So far I have taken us up to the early third century, where one view had come to be widely rejected even though earlier it had been prominent: that Jesus actually [...]

Christians Who Reversed Jesus’ Teachings: Wealth is GOOD!

In this thread I’ve been giving a short history of ancient Christian views of giving to charity – a matter of real interest for the blog itself, but of bigger interest for the world at large.  Surprisingly, before Christianity started to take over the Roman world, no one apart from Jews appeared to think that the “poor” mattered enough to do much of anything to help them.  Jesus, though, as a Jew, stressed the importance of taking care of those in need.  That’s what God does and it’s what his people should do – give everything to help those without resources. After his death his followers moderated Jesus’ views and began to stress that wealth was not necessarily evil or opposed to God.  Those who had it could keep it, as long as they were generous with it when it came to helping out those who were poor, hungry, homeless, ill, and so on. Eventually Christian leaders started actually to celebrate wealth, a rather serious change in the views promoted by Jesus.  But how could [...]

“Redemptive Gifts”: Can Giving to Charity Save Your Soul?

In my previous post I began to show that after Jesus’ death, his followers started to soften his message that it was necessary for his followers to give up all their material goods.  In fact, Christian leaders started seeing the virtue of wealth in their communities and began to claim that wealthy people who gave of their goods generously (without getting rid of them all) could help provide salvation for their souls. Such views become standard within the Christian tradition, creating two intriguing ironies for the religion, one related to the proclamation of Jesus during his life and other connected to the proclamation of the salvation he brought by his death. Jesus’ own views of wealth came to be reversed by his later followers, making it possible for them to increase their numbers in a world not at all likely to follow his example and message of voluntary poverty for the sake of the kingdom. On the other hand, precisely these missionary successes led subsequent generations of Christians to modify the original Christian understanding of [...]

Rescheduled (and RE-scheduled!) Platinum Webinar July 19

It's past time for another Platinum webinar; as you know, this is a four-time a year event, for Platinum Members only.  Apologies for having had to reschedule this one twice--I'll have a few words to say about that during the Zoom. Our topic is TBA. The date:  Tuesday July 19; 7:30-9:00 (EST)  No need to register; just show up. I will talk on the subject for 40-45 minutes, and then take questions for 30-35 minutes.  Interested?  It's for Platinum members only.  Here's the link:   Meeting ID: 834 5746 3872 Passcode: 334283 One tap mobile +13017158592,,83457463872#,,,,*334283# US (Washington DC) +13126266799,,83457463872#,,,,*334283# US (Chicago) Dial by your location +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 646 931 3860 US +1 929 205 6099 US (New York) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 669 444 9171 US +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) Meeting ID: 834 5746 3872 Passcode: 334283 Find your local number: I hope you can come!! I [...]

2022-07-13T10:29:29-04:00July 13th, 2022|Canonical Gospels|

July Gold Q&A

Dear Gold Members, These monthly Gold Q&A's have been a lot of fun to do.  Time for another one!  Have a question?  Ask it!  Anything related to the blog! To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] DEADLINE for your question. Saturday July 16, midnight (whenever midnight is where you live).   I will try to get it recorded soon after that, with a goal of releasing it on or around the 20th. Sorry for the short notice.  July has been a killer--more on that another time! Questions that are relatively short (a sentence or two) are more likely to be chosen; and feel free to ask a zinger!   Bart  

2022-07-13T10:01:11-04:00July 13th, 2022|Public Forum|

Softening Jesus’ Message on Giving up (Literally) Everything

In my previous post I showed that Jesus himself appears to have taught that his disciples (not just one or two of them) had to give up *everything* in order to be his followers.  Most likely this insistence on voluntary poverty was related to his message that the Kingdom of God was to arrive soon, so people needed to devote themselves entirely to it and to spread the message before it was too late. It is difficult to imagine that the Christian mission would have become massively successful if an entrance requirement was the complete divestment of property and a life of itinerate beggary.  It is no surprise that after Jesus’ death (most of) his followers modified his discourse on wealth: what mattered was not voluntary abject poverty but generosity.  That view came to be endorsed in later Gospel traditions – sayings placed on Jesus’ lips by story tellers and Gospel writers– and became the standard view among Christians down till today. Already in Luke’s Gospel we find Jesus’ encounter with the fabulously wealthy Zacchaeus [...]

Early Christianity and War. Guest Post by Dan Kohanski

As you may know, Platinum level members of the blog are allowed to make guest posts to their fellow Platinum members, and periodically they vote on one to be posted for all blog members.  Here is the most recent winning post, by Dan Kohanski.   (You may want to check out the benefits that accrue to the different levels of membership, and consider moving to a different level!  Just go here:  Register - The Bart Ehrman Blog )! In this post Dan treats a perennially important topic: how ancient people (including biblical authors) understood the legitimacy of war, particularly in light of their specific historical and cultural contexts.  What could be of more on-going relevance? Dan will be happy to address questions and comments. *******************************             The history of how religions approach war is evidence that theology is a product of reaction to events rather than the application of eternal and unchanging laws. Look at the ancient Israelites, who lived in a period of endemic local wars, in which one petty kingdom after another (including those [...]

2022-06-26T15:00:16-04:00July 12th, 2022|Public Forum, Reflections and Ruminations|

Did Jesus Insist on Voluntary Poverty?

I am returning now to my discussion of understandings of wealth and charity in the early Christian tradition, as I think through how I want to draft my prospectus on a book on that topic for my publisher.  If you want to see the earlier posts on views of wealth and giving in the Roman world (which stand in stark contrast with what arose in Christianity), just do a word search for “wealth” on the blog and you’ll see all the recent articles. Now I move to the views of the historical Jesus and his followers; after that, in subsequent posts, I’ll talk about how these views changed significantly over (Christian) time, and consider the real life practical effects they had in understanding the importance of helping the poor in the Western world. ************************ The later Christian discourse appealed to such traditions as found in the Hebrew Bible, but it found yet greater impetus in the recorded teachings of Jesus. For the purposes of my analysis, it is important to remember that historical scholars can [...]

2022-07-15T11:25:11-04:00July 10th, 2022|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus|
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