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Don’t Wanna Be Left Behind? An Upcoming Lecture on the Rapture!

Interested in the "rapture"? Want to be sure you're not "left behind" when the Antichrist arises and all hell breaks out on earth?   Then come to my lecture:  April 15, 3:00 pm:   "Will You Be Left Behind? A History of The Rapture"  Check it out here.   Will You Be Left Behind? » Powered by ThriveCart If you don't know about the rapture, this is the lecture for you.  It's believed by many millions of Christians in our world.   If you do know about the rapture, this lecture is even more for you.  I bet you don't know where the idea came from!  (Well, some of you maybe might.) Please note: this lecture is not connected with blog per se; it is part of my enterprise of online lectures and courses for the Bart Ehrman Professional Services (BEPS; you can learn about it at my personal website: BUT: blog members can get a nice discount.  Enter the code BLOG5 for $5.00 off the purchase price ($14.95). If you can't come to the lecture itself,  you can still [...]

2023-04-10T15:07:17-04:00April 10th, 2023|Video Media|

How Does An Author Write a Bestseller?

Almost everyone has the wrong idea about how a book becomes a bestseller.   In the crowd I run around with, the term “bestseller” tends to have a technical meaning: a book on the New York Times Bestseller List.  Every week the NY Times receives data from all the major book-selling outlets – from Amazon to Indies – and crunches the numbers for their various lists (Fiction Hardbacks, Non-Fiction Hardbacks, paperback fiction, etc.).  There are 25 books in each category that make the list, but they *print* only the top 15. To put that list in a bit of perspective, there are about 700 – 800 new books published in the U.S. every day (not counting self-published books).   To make the top 25 in a given week is … well, not easy. As many of you know, a non-fiction “trade book” is one written for a broad, general audience rather than for scholars in a field of study (an “academic” book or a “monograph”) or for classroom use for students (a textbook).   Normally, the point of [...]

2023-04-10T11:50:25-04:00April 10th, 2023|Book Discussions, Reflections and Ruminations|

The Quest for the Legendary Jesus. Platinum Guest Post by Robert Droney

Now *here* are some smart and interesting reflections about a topic most of us think is rather crucial: the quest for Jesus.  But which Jesus?   And which quester?  Here Robert Droney discusses the search for the "legendary Jesus" by one who is questioning his faith. It should generate some feedback!  So comment away! ****************************** I “accidentally” listened to the audio book of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. I intended to check out H.G. Wells’ The Invisible Man. My disappointment grew when I realized Ellison’s novel focused on racial issues. Not because I consider racial issues unimportant. Rather, I consider racial issues and racial justice very important. In fact, I believe that, in the same way that the Colosseum stands as an icon for Imperial Rome, slavery and racial tensions will epitomize the American Republic. However, I find the cacophony of ideologies, rhetoric, and the partisan bickering about racial issues in the media tiresome and, in my opinion, these don’t do much to change people’s minds or resolve the problem. Nevertheless, I continued to listen to Ellison’s [...]

2023-04-05T11:22:27-04:00April 10th, 2023|Historical Jesus|

The First Actual Account of the Resurrection (Hint: It’s Not in the New Testament)

On this Easter Sunday I thought it would be appropriate to repost a blog from several years ago on a Gospel not in the New Testament -- a Gospel that gives us an actual narrative of the resurrection.  I often say that there is no story of Jesus' resurrection in the the New Testament -- and people think I'm nuts.  Of *course* there is!  No, there's not.  In the New Testament, Jesus is buried on a late Friday afternoon.  The action picks up, then, on the third day when the women arrive at the tomb, only to find it empty. The resurrection happened *between* these two events.  It is never narrated.  We have no account of Jesus being revived and coming out of the tomb. But we do from *outside* the New Testament, in a book that some early Christians considered canonical Scripture, the Gospel of Peter.  This was an account that was lost for many, many centuries.  It deals not just with Jesus' resurrection (though that is clearly the highlight), but with his trial [...]

What If I Commit the Unforgivable Sin? Can It Be Purged in Purgatory?

In my previous post I discussed one of the passages of the New Testament that has traditionally been used to support the idea of Purgatory, the place that most of the “saved” go after death to be purged of their sins (Matt 5:26  “you won’t get out of there until you have paid the last penny”).  In my judgment this passage is not talking about what happens in the afterlife, even though it has been read that way.   With another passage, the matter is not quite so clear. In a famous passage, again in Matthew, Jesus talks about the “unforgivable sin”:  “Therefore I tell you every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven people, but the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven; and whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit it will not be forgiven, either in this age or the ages to come.” As you might imagine, over the Christian centuries there have been numerous interpretations of what that [...]

2023-03-26T13:06:30-04:00April 8th, 2023|Afterlife, Historical Jesus|

 Yahweh and Moses. Platinum Guest Post by Omar Abur-Robb

For those of you interested in Hebrew Bible, the (existence of the) historical Moses, the Hebrew language (you don't have to know it!), and... so on -- here's the post for you!  This is a Platinum offering for other Platinums only.  Omar will be happy to address your comments and questions! ******************** The name “Yahweh” might be a good indicator for the “Scientific Historical” existence of Moses [By scientific history I mean the historical data without the metaphysics]. Yahweh is a “sentence name” and this is really rare. We might find a full name (the first name and the surname) that represents a sentence, but it is very rare for the ‘first name’ to be a sentence. We need here to differentiate between compound names and sentence names: Ismael is as compound name that consists of two words: ‘Isma’ and ‘El’, which means The hearing of El. The Semitic people are famous with the compound-names, for example In Arabic we have Abdullah (Abd-Allah) which means ‘The Servant of Allah’, Nasrallah (Nasr-Allah) which means ‘The victory [...]

2023-04-03T20:08:14-04:00April 7th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Blog Volunteer Needed!!

As you may know, a number of Volunteers devote their time and talents to the blog, making  it work, succeed, thrive, and grow.  And an important position has now opened up. We have a special need for someone who is skilled in social media of all kinds.   For some time now we have been highly fortunate to have a skilled volunteer taking on this task,, more or less behind the scenes.  She needs now to move on to other things.  Life calls! And now the blog is calling in response.  We need to expand our blog horizons and develop our potential, with the  goal of significantly increasing our membership so as to achieve our dual objectives of spreading expert knowledge about the New Testament and Early Christianity to a wider world and, concomitantly, raising more funds for charity. Our ideal volunteer would be someone experienced, skilled, and creative in posting to social media:  Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more!  Among other things, the ability to create short clips from existing videos and post to Reels would [...]

2023-04-06T18:16:23-04:00April 6th, 2023|Public Forum|

Did Jesus Believe in Purgatory?

The topic I’m dealing with on this destined-to-be-a-very-long thread seems to me to be particularly important.  Most of my scholarship is of interest mainly to people concerned about the life and teachings of Jesus, the New Testament, the history of Christianity, and so on; but this is of interest to *all* of us.  What happens when we die?  Or more specifically, what happens to *me* when I die? My current discussion of purgatory may be of little interest to people, until they think about it for a second.  Do most people have to go through horrible suffering after death, even if they are not destined for the eternal flames of hell?  I for one don’t look forward to getting a tooth ache or ending up in the hospital.  What if there are years, decades, centuries of physical torment ahead for me?   Shouldn’t I want to know about that and, well, make some preparations? But it’s a topic most of us don’t think about.  Those of us raised in a Protestant tradition simply don’t buy it [...]

2023-04-06T11:10:59-04:00April 6th, 2023|Public Forum|

Purgatory Before There Was a Purgatory

As I said in my last post, the definitive doctrine of Purgatory did not exist before the 12th century, even though the basic *idea* had been around for a long time – the idea that even though Christ’s death brought salvation to the world, most people, except for the most holy saints, such as those who had been martyred for their faith, had still to pay for their sins.   By the 13th century Purgatory had become an actual place of torment.  Before then it was not so much a place as a condition of suffering to purge away sins. The question is how early this idea existed.  How long had Christians maintained that suffering was necessary for the sinner – even the believing Christian sinner – before they would be allowed into their eternal bliss in heaven?   The idea is not part of the New Testament, although as we will see in a later post, there are some passages that could be used in support of the view. The first place we find any reference [...]

2023-03-26T13:16:17-04:00April 5th, 2023|Public Forum|

The Origins of Purgatory

As I indicated in my previous two posts on the Martyrdom of Perpetua, I'm interested in the question of where the idea of purgatory came from.  Ths idea of purgatory is *widely* misunderstood today; in fact, just about everyone who mentions it to me (including two days ago), doesn't know what it actually is -- including friends who have been Catholic for the entire 70 years of their lives!  (Not to mention the Protestants...) This is how I discussed the issue some years ago when I was working on my book Heaven and Hell: ****************************** Roughly speaking purgatory is a kind of third place, between heaven and hell.  The abject sinners (or those who reject Christ, or whoever you think is destined for punishment) go to hell; the righteous saints go to heaven.  But what about those who will ultimately be saved but who have not lived a good (enough) life?  They go to purgatory.   This has been the standard teaching of the Catholic church since the 12th or 13th century. The classic study of the [...]

2023-03-26T13:23:24-04:00April 4th, 2023|Public Forum|

April Gold Q&A: Submit your questions!

Dear Goldies, Time to crank up another monthly Gold Q&A.  Have a question?  ASK IT!  DEADLINE for your question(s):  this coming Friday, April 7, midnight your time. I'm more likely to answer questions that are relatively short and to the point than those that go on for a long paragraph.  So be concise. I'll answer as the spirit leads. To enter your question on to the list: send it to Diane at [email protected] My plan is to record the session soon after that, probably on the weekend.  I will probably send out a note indicating when that'll be a day or so ahead of time in case any of you want to listen in live. So, let me hear what you're curious about and I'll do my best to respond! BDE  

2023-05-01T16:11:28-04:00April 3rd, 2023|Public Forum|

Dreaming of Purgatory

Yesterday I began to talk about the Martyrdom of Perpetua, one of the most interesting and moving texts to come down to us from early Christianity.  It is an account of a 23-year old Roman matron who is willing to die a gruesome death for her Christian faith.  Among other things, the text shows that her faith is far more important to her than her family.  In particular, she is shown in conflict especially with her father (no husband is mentioned, which has led to considerable speculation: Divorced? Widowed? Unwed mother? Something else?).  And even though it is with regret, she is willing to leave behind her own infant child by being martyred. Family figures prominently in the two excerpts here.  In the first her father begs her to avoid martyrdom, to no avail.  In the second (chs. 7-8) we have an account of her dream and intervention on behalf of her dead brother Dinocrates.  This is the part that I will be most interested in for the next post.  Is it an early adumbration [...]

The Martyrdom of Perpetua and the Rise of Purgatory

I was recently asked about "purgatory, a concept misunderstood by most people I've ever met, including nearly every Protestant (!) but also some lifelong Catholics.  I had done a series of posts on the issue years ago, while I was doing research for my book on Heaven and Hell.  I had just read an interesting book that dealt with the “Rise and Function” of the idea of “Purgatory” by Adreas Merkt, Das Fegefeuer: Entstehung und Funktion einer Idee.  Purgatory itself did not become as solid idea until the 12th and 13th centuries, but there were antecedents to it in much earlier times, including in one of the most intriguing accounts of a Christian martyrdom from the early 3rd century. That is how I started my thread: ****************************** Purgatory never made it big in Protestant Christian circles.  But it is an age-old doctrine, the idea that a person needs to suffer for their sins before allowing into heaven for a blessed eternity.  It is kind of a temporary hell.  No one can get off scot-free.  But [...]

2023-03-22T14:07:09-04:00April 1st, 2023|Afterlife, Women in Early Christianity|
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