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An Equally Strange View of the Crucifixion

Yesterday I posted about the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter, which clearly differentiated between the man Jesus and the spiritual being, the Christ, who inhabited him temporarily – leaving him at his suffering and death since the divine cannot suffer and die.  That understanding of Jesus Christ is sometimes called "docetic," but strictly speaking that's not quite right.   The term docetic comes from the Greek word DOKEO which means “to seem” or “to appear.”  It refers to Christologies in which Jesus was not a real flesh-and-blood human but only “seemed” to be. In reality, what they saw, heard, and touched was a phantasm. That is not what is going on in the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter.  Here there really is a man Jesus – flesh and blood like the rest of us.  But he is indwelt by a divine being who leaves him at his death, abandoneding him to die alone on the cross.  That is similar to a docetic view, but also strikingly different.  I call it a “separationist” Christology because it separates Jesus from [...]

August Gold Q&A

Dear Gold Members, Yet again, it's time for our monthly Gold Q&A.   Have a question?  Ask it!  It can be anything related to the blog. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] The DEADLINE for your question is this Sunday, August 14 midnight (whenever midnight is where you live).   I will record the session soon thereafter and, if all goes to plan (does it ever?) have it released by August 18. Questions that are relatively short (a sentence or two) are more likely to be chosen; and feel free to trip me up!   Bart  

2022-08-10T15:28:57-04:00August 10th, 2022|Public Forum|

The OTHER Apocalypse of Peter (Stranger still…)

In a previous post I discussed the Apocalypse of Peter that was considered by a number of early Christians to be an inspired book of Scripture.   There is another early Christian book with the same name, which is differentiated from the "proto-orthodox" one I've already discussed by being normally referred to as the "Coptic Apocalypse of Peter."   It is intriguing both because it has a view of Christ completely different from what became the orthodox view (here the man Jesus and the divine Christ are actually different beings who are temporarily united up to the point of Jesus' death), and because it claims those with a different view (e.g., the view that "Christ died for the sins of the world") are the heretics! Here is how I discuss it in my book Lost Christianities: ****************************** Among the gnostic attacks on the superficiality of proto-orthodox views, none is more riveting than the Coptic Apocalypse of Peter discovered at Nag Hammadi.  This is not to be confused with the proto-orthodox Apocalypse of Peter in which Peter is given a [...]

Ask Me Anything! Mark Your Calendar.

We will be holding a blog fundraiser, donations voluntary, on Wednesday August 17, 8:00 - 9:15 PM Eastern Time.   It will be an Ask Bart Anything.  Any question on any topic is welcome.  If I am unable to answer, I won't.  I can only think of a few things I'd be unwilling to answer, and I'm not going to tell you what they are. We are raising money for the people suffering in Ukraine, and will split the proceeds between two of our charities: Doctors without Borders and CARE.   We are asking for voluntary donations of $30.  We would LOVE it if you could give more for this worthy cause.  Anyone who comes up with $30,000, I'll buy you a Happy Meal.  But if you can't afford $30, or can't afford anything, we completely understand.  Give what you can, if you can, and come anyway!  All are welcome. I will personally match the amount of donations we bring in up to $5000. Moreover, if there are any individual donations over $1000, I will be happy [...]

2022-08-09T18:09:16-04:00August 9th, 2022|Public Forum|

You Don’t Think Peter Wrote 1 and 2 Peter?

In my previous post I indicated that I didn't think Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter.  One of my main reasons for thinking so is that I'm pretty sure Peter could not write.  These books were composed in highly literate Greek by someone skilled in Greek composition.  To be able to compose a book took years and years of training starting with childhood.  Everyone we know like that was elitely trained and connected with a wealthy family, almost always in an urban area.  Not, for example, a rural Aramaic-speaking daylaborer from a remote part of Galilee. But couldn't Peter have "written" these books some other way -- e.g., by having a secretary or scribe do it for him?  I dealt with that question many years ago on the blog (based on much fuller discussions in my books Forged and Forgery and Counterforgery, if you want to see more of the evidence and logic) and still think the same thing.  As it turns out, there is New Testament evidence about Peter’s education level.  According to Acts [...]

A Major Forgery in the Hebrew Bible? Platinum Guest Post by Dennis Folds

I am pleased to publish this insightful and intriguing Platinum guest post by Dennis Folds, for all you fellow Platinum members.  Many of you are interested in Christian pseudepigrapha (= forgeries), especially those in the New Testament.  But what about the Old Testament?  Now *here* is a bold thesis!  Read it and remark! Remember: you too can submit a Platinum guest post.  It does not have to be sophisticated, learned, or novel.  Just write something you'd like to share with all of us, on anything at all connected to the blog and send it to me! ******************** Jeremiah Versus the Deuteronomist Forger   Dennis J. Folds, Ph.D. Given the interest in potential forgeries of NT books and other early Christian writings, I’d like to describe what may have been the most consequential forgery in the history of our Judeo-Christian faith:  the “discovery” of the long-lost book of the law of Moses, which purportedly contained the original covenant between YHWH and the Hebrews. The discovery is described in 2 Kings 22, during the renovation of the [...]

2022-08-08T12:55:40-04:00August 8th, 2022|Forgery in Antiquity, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Why Do Some Smart People Just Not Think?

I was recently contacted by a conservative Christian theologian who was interested in doing a public back and forth with me, not necessarily a debate but an exchange of ideas on the issue of theodicy – how to explain evil in a world over which God is sovereign. What puzzled me was his explanation for suggesting the event.  He said he had followed my work for years and had read my books, but was surprised recently to find out that the reason I no longer believed in God not “for historical reasons” but because of the problem of suffering. I have to say, I found this comment to be completely mystifying.  I still do. Not for the rather obvious reason that, contrary to what he said, he clearly had *not* been following me for many years or read my books.  A constant theme of my work (blog, books, interviews) is that I became an agnostic because of the problem of suffering.  One of my books, God’s Problem, is devoted specifically to the issue, and it [...]

2022-07-25T17:31:24-04:00August 7th, 2022|Bart's Critics, Reflections and Ruminations|

Reading Genesis—Are You Lost in Translation? Anniversary Guest Post by James Tabor

Several scholar-friends and colleagues graciously have written guest posts for the blog to celebrate our tenth anniversary.  I am posting one a week and we will gather all of them together down the line to make them available as a group.  This week's contribution comes from James Tabor, retired Professor of Christian Origins and Bible from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (a scholar many of you will know) who has written a large number of popular books, along with serious scholarship, and most recently his own fresh translation of the book of Genesis. This post is especially interesting: James deals with problems of translating the Hebrew Bible that I bet you don't even realize are problems. ****************************** What is the best-known verse in the Bible—one that millions could quote immediately by heart? Christians might say John 3:16—after all, one even sees placards and signs reading “John 3:16” at sporting stadiums! But I think the very first verse of the Bible—Genesis 1:1—most likely would win the universal familiarity content: In the beginning God created the [...]

2022-08-08T10:06:43-04:00August 6th, 2022|Public Forum|

A Writing of Peter that *Barely* Got Into the New Testament

  In my previous posts I’ve talked about writings that claimed to be written by Peter, the closest disciple to Jesus – a Gospel, and Apocalypse, and an Epistle . These are not the only Petrine writings floating around in the early church.  Among other things, we have two other (different) apocalypses, one of them unusually fascinating that was discovered only in 1945 (a Gnostic writing). None of these was actually written by Peter, and I don’t think there’s a biblical scholar on the planet who seriously thinks it was.  It appears that writing books in the name of Peter was something of a cottage industry in early Christianity. That should give us pause.  There are two books that also claim to be written by Peter that actually are in the New Testament.  If we know that such pseudepigrapha were floating around, on what grounds should we think these two were authentic? Of all the books of the NT that have been thought to be forged – written by an author falsely claiming to be [...]

2022-07-25T17:09:11-04:00August 4th, 2022|Public Forum|

A Letter from Peter to James … Against Paul!

I have been discussing my thoughts about a future book on the canon of the New Testament for a broad reading audience, a book that explains why we got our 27 books, why other books didn’t get in, who made the decisions, on what grounds, and when.  To introduce some of these issues I’ve already discussed two books that claimed to be written by the apostle Peter (but weren’t), the Apocalypse and the Gospel of Peter.  Neither of them made it into the NT, obviously, but both were thought by some Christian leaders to be bona fide texts of Scripture. That may be true for the third example I’ll be giving here (of a book allegedly written by Peter), but in this case it is difficult to know if anyone took it as inspired Scripture.  Whether they did or not, it never really had much of a chance to make it in.  Even so, it’s a fascinating book whose author almost certainly wanted it to be granted apostolic and canonical authority.  It is a letter [...]

2022-07-25T17:03:45-04:00August 3rd, 2022|Public Forum|

Why Do I “Trash” the Gospels??

Every now and then I get emails from people who are, well, not exactly fans.  They have heard that I've said this that or the other thing, and have no interest at all in reading anything I've written, but genuinely want to know:  Why are you trashing the Gospels? It’s a fair question, and deserves a fair answer.  I dealt with it years ago on the blog; this is what I said then. ****************************** The short story is that I’m not *trying* to trash the Gospels.   In my view, what I’m doing is showing what the Gospels really are and what they really are not.   And that is not a matter of trashing them.  It’s a matter of revealing their true character, rather than foisting a false character on them. I'd agree, of course, that by arguing that the Gospels are not historically accurate I am contesting and challenging views of the Gospels that many Christians unreflectively have (and that some Christian scholars reflectively have).  But urging a different understanding of the Gospels is not [...]

2022-07-18T15:18:45-04:00August 2nd, 2022|Bart's Critics, Canonical Gospels|

Anyone in/around Asheville NC in August?

BE Bloggers! I'm going to be in the Asheville NC area (Waynesville, actually) August 9-28 or so.  I'm out there a good bit, but not usually for this amount of time.  If any of you are in the area, let me know: if there are a few of you, maybe we could work out a blog dinner.   It would be for blog members only; each person would pay for him/herself; and we would spend an evening engaged in interesting discourse! Let me know -- not here but on my private email -- and we'll see what, if anything, can happen!  [email protected]     

2022-08-02T11:12:42-04:00August 1st, 2022|Public Forum|

Reminder about My Gospels Course This Weekend

This is a reminder (or a minder, if you missed it the first time) that I will be doing an eight-lecture online course this coming weekend, four lectures on on Saturday and four on Sunday, with Q&A following each, on the four canonical Gospels. Here was the original announcement from a couple of weeks ago. ******************************   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 [...]

2022-08-02T11:10:07-04:00August 1st, 2022|Public Forum|
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