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Jesus the Half-Nabataean Prince, a Platinum Post by Serene

Serene has been an active member of the Platinum Corp, and here has written her first Guest Post; it's informative and, I bet, controversial!   Let Serene and the rest of us know what you think (and why)!   ****************************** Hi fellow Platies! Today, I present the case for Jesus as the son of a handmaiden and an Abrahamic divine king. This would be under the right codified in the Babylonian Talmud that gives foreign officials access to engaged Jewish virgins: "Rabba said: The baraita is referring to a period where the government said that a virgin who is married on Wednesday will submit to intercourse with the prefect [hegmon] first." And also in accordance with an Arab tradition attested to in the 7th C, and likely existing earlier, of royalty freeing a handmaid after first birth to marry.   The Why To reboot Jewish lineage. Lineage Nabataean-Edomite King Herod the Great had eliminated all of his lineage-Jewish children heirs by 4 BCE. Civil unrest ensued because as the saying goes, “representation matters”. [...]

2023-07-31T23:47:11-04:00July 31st, 2023|Public Forum|

Alleged “Proof” That Crucified Jews Were Allowed Decent Burials

Now that I have restated my views about the burial of Jesus by citing passages from How Jesus Became God (HarperOne, 2014) and emphasized one particular general point – that it is of utmost importance to remember why Romans crucified people, and in particular why they crucified those who were guilty of insurrection, the threat of insurrection, or high treason (a point that I cannot stress enough: Jesus was executed for calling himself the King of the Jews – a political charge of treason against the state) – I can now begin to summarize the counter-arguments that Craig Evans has made in his relatively long response, “Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right.”   Despite this title, and despite the respect I have for Craig as a scholar, I have to say that in my judgment he gets virtually all the evidence precisely wrong. He focuses his counter-argument on two of my main points: the Roman practices of crucifixion and the character of Pontius Pilate in particular.  I will respond to all of his major claims – [...]

New Insights into the New Testament: An Event You DON’T Want to Miss!

I am very pleased to announce an upcoming event that surely *anyone* connected to the blog will be deeply interested in: a two-day remote Bible conference for non-scholars, called "New Insights into the New Testament," consisting of ten lectures, on the canonical Gospels, delivered by some of the most highly recognized New Testament scholars in the country, in terms accessible to layfolk. There's never been anything like this. (But there will be again, since we're planning on making it an annual event!) The conference is not connected with the Blog per se, apart from the facts that the issues are all directly related to what we do here and that I'm the one organizing and moderating the event. Check out this video description (and look at the site: New Insights into the New Testament: A Biblical Conference for Non-Scholars (   *****

2023-07-28T04:05:43-04:00July 29th, 2023|Public Forum|

A Proposition That the First Greek Converts to Jesus Were a Few Ascetic Pythagorean Philosophers. A Platinum Post From Omar Robb

Another deep dive into an interesting question with a new suggestion, with Platinum member Omar Robb! ****************************** In this article we will propose a solution to the following puzzle: How did Jesus teaching pass and flourish from its local limited domain (the Jewish community in Palestine) to a foreign domain (the Greek-Roman world) in less than 20 years? But we need first to discuss the Pythagorean Movement: Pythagoreanism originated in Greece from about the 6th century BC. However, I am going to argue here that Pythagoreanism didn’t really have much influence on the communities. They did have a huge influence on knowledge and wisdom through history, and the current human knowledge and wisdom can be related back to the first Pythagorean Philosophers (including Socrates and Plato), but my argument here is about the influence of these philosophers on the daily life of the masses at ancient times, and my assumption here is that they had little influence over the life of the ordinary people at that time. Now ... I don’t have a solid proof [...]

2023-07-26T08:27:11-04:00July 28th, 2023|Public Forum|

Does It Even Matter If Jesus Was Given a Proper Burial?

Now that I have devoted a few posts to presenting my argument for why I think Jesus was probably not given a decent burial – the posts were portions of a chapter lifted from How Jesus Became God (HarperOne, 2014)– I am in a position to begin to respond to the counter-arguments of Craig Evans, my evangelical friend and naysayer, whose essay “Getting the Burial Traditions and Evidences Right” is widely seen – at least by people who have said anything to me about the matter – as the best contribution in the response book How God Became Jesus.   In my replies to his arguments, I will call him “Craig,” hoping that this does not smack too much of over-familiarity.  But, well, we’ve known each other for thirty years, have worked together on various film projects (documentaries that we have both in), and have had a number of cordial public debates.  Referring to him as “Evans” might seem a bit contemptuous. And truth be told, I’m not at all contemptuous of his scholarship or of [...]

2023-07-24T19:19:26-04:00July 27th, 2023|Public Forum|

More Reasons for Thinking Jesus was Not Given a Decent Burial

  So far in this thread I have been laying out the argument found in my book How Jesus Became God of why I do not think Jesus was given a decent burial by Joseph of Arimathea on the day he was crucified.  This will be the last post on the question. After this the fun begins.  My friend, New Testament scholar Craig Evans, laid out a detailed argument for why he thinks I am very wrong, as one of the essays in the response-book, How God Became Jesus.  Starting in the next post, in a new thread of a number of response-to-the-response posts, I will respond to Craig's arguments one-by-one, to show in turn why I don't find his arguments at all convincing. In my post yesterday I talked about one specific reason for doubting the tradition of Jesus' burial by Joseph of Arimathea.  Now I give two more reasons. ****************************** Greek and Roman Practices of Using Common Graves for Criminals My second reason for doubting that Jesus received a decent burial is that – [...]

Did Romans Allow Decent Burials for Crucified Criminals?

  In considering whether Jesus was buried on the day of his death, does it matter what Roman typical practices were?  Or should these just be overlooked, not taken into consideration? In addition to the rather general considerations I have given in my previous post for calling into question the idea that Jesus received a decent burial by Joseph of Arimathea, there are three more specific reasons for doubting the tradition that Jesus received a decent burial at all, in a tomb that could later be recognized as emptied.   Roman Practices of Crucifixion Sometimes Christian apologists argue that Jesus had to be taken off the cross before sunset on Friday, because the next day was Sabbath and it was against Jewish Law, or at least Jewish sensitivities, to allow a person to remain on the cross during the Sabbath.  Unfortunately, the historical record suggests just the opposite.  It was not Jews who killed Jesus, and so they had no say about when he would be taken down from the cross.  Moreover, the Romans who [...]

2023-07-25T12:10:00-04:00July 25th, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus|

Literary Problems with the Gospel Accounts of Jesus’ Burial

Here is a section from my book How Jesus Became God  (HarperOne, 2014) that deals with the question of whether Jesus was actually given a decent burial by Joseph of Arimathea.  At this point of my discussion I am not looking into the question of whether it is plausible that Jesus would be buried on the day of his execution given what we know from other historical sources, about Roman practices, but at general problems with the reporting in the Gospels. ****************************** According to our earliest account, the Gospel of Mark, Jesus was buried by a previously unnamed and unknown figure, Joseph of Arimathea, “a respected member of the council” (Mark 15:43) – that is, a Jewish aristocrat who belonged to the Sanhedrin, which was the ruling body made up of “chief priests, elders, and scribes” (Mark 14:53).  According to Mark 15:43, Joseph summoned up his courage and asked Pilate for Jesus’ body.  When Pilate learned that Jesus was already dead, he granted Joseph his wish, and he took the body from cross, wrapped it [...]

2023-07-17T17:54:22-04:00July 23rd, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus|

Reminder: Why I’m Not a Christian — tomorrow!

In case you missed this -- I'll be doing a FREE four-lecture course tomorrow (with long Q&A) on "Why I Am Not A Christian."  In it I will talk about my faith journey not for the sake of autobiography per se, but to explain one story of a person who came no longer to believe and decided to leave the faith.  The course will include discussions of my scholarly endeavors but also of my wider struggles with the question of the existence of God and with the fears when I started wondering if I could continue to believe, the difficulties associated with leaving the faith, and, most important, the ways I and others have found meaning and purpose in a world without God. I hope you can come!  The first 3000 get in!   But the course will later be available to anyone (with the lectures, q&a, questions for reflection, etc.)   See the promo below; for more information and registration, go to    

2023-07-22T13:20:01-04:00July 22nd, 2023|Public Forum|

Back to Whether Jesus Was Really Given a Decent Burial

Was Jesus actually given a decent burial the afternoon he was crucified?  Almost every Christian in the known universe, and almost all New Testament scholars, don't ask the question and if they do they don't ask it seriously:  of *course* he was.  Just read the Gospels!  Why wouldn't he be? For years now I've taken a different stand, as pointed out in my recent post on Monty Python's Life of Brian (see: The Life of Brian and Jesus: Was Jesus Really Buried on the Day of the Crucifixion? - The Bart Ehrman Blog)   After that post, and for years before that, blog readers have asked for a fuller explanation of my views, and for my responses to scholarly rejections of it.  Most everything I talk about on the blog comprises views held either by a majority of scholars or by a respectable minority.  Not this one.  So why do I find it convincing? My fullest discussion of the matter came not in a scholarly publication but here on the blog, nine years ago.  I've decided [...]

2023-07-17T14:43:16-04:00July 22nd, 2023|Bart's Critics, Canonical Gospels, Historical Jesus|

Is the USA the Antichrist of the Book of Revelation? Slavic Views of the Apocalypse. Guest Post by Mikhail Abakumov

A few months ago I was invited to do a remote interview with a podcaster from Ukraine, Mikhail Abakumov, who has emigrated to Poland because of the war.  Mikhail is a Christian scholar, working with Ukranian refugees, and writing a dissertation on the famous German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, famous for being involved with, and eventually executed for, an assassination plot against Hitler.  Bonhoeffer has been an inspiration to many Christian seminarians, pastors, theologians, and thinkers at large ever since. During my interview with Mikhail I learned something that blew my mind.  I knew full well that many American fundamentalists had long identified the Soviet Union, and then Russia (or one of its leaders) as the "Antichrist" (the "evil empire"); I had no idea that conservative Slavic Christians returned the favor and thought the same of the USA.  Particularly today.  That in fact the war in Ukraine was a fulfillment of Scriptural prophecies, especially the book of Revelation, which showed how the conflict would end and what world order would emerge from its ashes. I asked [...]

2023-07-17T14:34:31-04:00July 20th, 2023|Revelation of John|

Male Superiority in Antiquity

Why did ancient Greeks and Romans think that "men" were inherently superior to "women"?  Many people (and entire cultures) think that still today, of course, but for now I ain't goin' there.  I'm interested in understanding this understanding in the ancient world out of which Christianity grew, on the assumption that modern ideas have been handed down to us over the centuries so that most people simply think their views are "common sense," which, I suppose, they often are, since they are the sense commonly held. They often think, as a consequence, that they are therefore "naturally right," and with that I heartily disagree.  A majority opinion is not necessarily right or true.  The fact that for most of western history a majority of people thought the world came into existence just some thousands of years ago and would last 6000 years does not mean the view was right.  Just that it was widely held.   Both what is actually "true" and what is truly "natural" is not established by a show of hands. In any [...]

More on Love: Why Were Greek Men Especially Attracted to Prepubescent Boys?

What is it with Greek pederasty?  How could this be a thing, the widely accepted practice in classical Athens (at least) of an adult man taking an adolescent boy under his wing and into his bed, providing an education into the culture, social world, and politics of the city in exchange for sexual favors? I’ve given two posts on it to this point, and in this one I want to reflect on what it was all about – at least what one particular of it was all about.  My question:  Why were adolescent boys seen as particularly beautiful – rapturous – and desirable sex partners, apparently far more then women, even among men who were heterosexually active, including with their wives ?  Some of us today (who know a lot of teenagers) just don’t see the attraction.  But reading the ancient texts, it’s pretty clear that at least among the Athenian social elites, it was not even much debated:  Of *course* boys are greatly to be (especially) desired, sexually.   Not just to one older fellow [...]

2023-07-17T14:25:50-04:00July 18th, 2023|Greco-Roman Religions and Culture|

An Important Difference in John–a Platinum Post by Ryan Fleming

How different is John from the Synoptics?  You may you think you know the answer, but this thoughtful post by platinum blog member Ryan Fleming should surely make you think.  And it all leads to a rather startling question at the end.  So what do you think?   ****************************** The partial narrative in the Gospel of John has a few important differences compared to the three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke). The Synoptic Gospels are not identical, but in general they have reasonable agreement regarding the chronology of events in Jesus’ ministries. If one carefully tracks the chronology in the first three gospels, and then attempts to compare them with the Gospel of John, one quickly notices the differences. However, there are several other important differences worth noting. With each difference, a list of possible explanations follow: As discussed above, a different chronology – a timeline of too many events to list here. A long period of time from the writing of the other three (several decades?) with the word-of-mouth sequence of stories naturally [...]

2023-07-27T11:29:31-04:00July 17th, 2023|Public Forum|

The Narrow Road to … Hell? Guest Post by Glenn Siepert

A final guest post from Glenn Siepert, on his recent book! ****************************** Here's my last post about my book, "Emerging From the Rubble" - a reflection on Matthew 7:13-14. If you've read the posts, thank you. As you can imagine, this book means the world to me. And if you find yourself navigating through your own loss and demolished Temple, my hope is that it can become a friend to you. Whether you believe in God or not or consider yourself a Christian or not ... I don't think it really matters because I think that whether it's God or the Universe or our own inner knowing - I think that small inner voice can speak to us through these stories and leave us challenged, encouraged, and full of ideas about how to move forward. May it be so. -- A Threat? A while back someone told me that I was walking down the wide road to hell. I don’t remember why or the context of the comment … Was it the podcast episodes about [...]

2023-07-16T06:44:44-04:00July 16th, 2023|Public Forum|

Radiocarbon Dating of the Qur’an. Has It Solved the Problem? Guest Post by Stephen Shoemaker

This is an unusually important post on how to solve the problem of the date of the Qur'an, by my colleague Stephen Shoemaker, connected with his earlier scintillating discussion based on his recent book Creating the Qur'an, which you can check out here: Creating the Qur’an: A Historical-Critical Study eBook : Shoemaker, Stephen J.: Books The question is: can't you just do a scientific dating of the Qur'an manuscripts and quickly solve the question: when were they produced?  The answer may surprise you.  It enlightened *me* ****************************** Radiocarbon Dating and the Origins of the Qur’an: The Perils of Scientism and Internet Sensationalism   Bart invited me to make another post or two about studying the origins of the Qur’an from a historical-critical perspective, and right off the bat I knew that I needed to write something about attempts to radiocarbon date early Qur’anic manuscripts. It turns out that over the last ten years this topic has become the 800-pound gorilla in the room (to mix metaphors), and much like an actual 800-pound gorilla in [...]

2023-07-06T11:24:11-04:00July 15th, 2023|Public Forum|

Questions about Dating the Gospels

How do we know when the Gospels were written?  I have recently received two questions about this matter on the blog (from two different people, within minutes of each other!); I answered the questions as usual in the Comment section, but thought the issues were important enough to present as a post as well, both the questions/comments and my responses (which I’ve expanded a bit here). ******************************   QUESTION:  With all this discussion of the early non-canonical gospels, I need some clarification. By reading multiple scholars, I think I am confused. As far as the canonical gospels, I had thought that the earliest copies were from the late second and early third century. By copies I mean those that are recognizable as Mark, Matthew, Luke and John. I thought that scholars had dated them by indirect means to the last quarter of the first century. How are the canonical gospels dated in this manner as most scholars claim? Do they have fragments with carbon dates from first century CE? Are there references by independent sources [...]

2023-07-06T22:59:55-04:00July 13th, 2023|Canonical Gospels, Reader’s Questions|

Why Discrepancies and Contradictions *Enrich* Our Understanding of the Gospels

This will be the last post in the hiatus I have been taking from responding to Craig Evans’s critique of my view of Jesus’ burial. In the last post I argued that the two portrayals of Jesus going to his death in Mark and Luke are radically different, and that recognizing this radical difference is of utmost importance for understanding what each author is trying to say.   The in-shock, silent Jesus of Mark, who is betrayed, denied, abandoned, and mocked by everyone, who wonders at the very end why God himself has forsaken him, simply is not the same as the calm confident Jesus of Luke, who knows God is on his side, who understands what is happening to him, and who knows what will happen to him after it happens to him: he will wake up in paradise. A deeper understanding of each Gospel seeks to understand the portrayal of Jesus found in each and every one of the Gospels, but also asks what each account is actually trying to *teach* by making that [...]

2023-07-30T09:47:38-04:00July 13th, 2023|Canonical Gospels|

Our Inner Herod. Guest Post by Glenn Siepert

Here is a second post from blog member and blog volunteer Glenn Siepert.  Lucky us, it includes an extract from his new book.  Enjoy! ****************************** Our Inner Herod In my last post I shared the background of my book, Emerging From the Rubble and over the next couple of posts I want to share some excerpts with you so as to give you a taste of what to expect in the book. There are 30 chapters that explore 30 stories from Matthew's Gospel and each chapter ends with a couple of reflection questions to get you thinking about how the story might encourage you or challenge you as you face your own modern day Temple collapse. Here's chapter 4 of the book, "Our Inner Herod" - a reflection on Matthew 2:1-12. --- Dis-Star Herod was pretty ticked off, right? He was a man of unbelievable power and (in his mind) no one was ever going to replace him. He was the man. He was the myth. He was the legend. … King Herod the Great, the [...]

2023-07-11T15:12:47-04:00July 12th, 2023|Public Forum|

The Life of Brian and Jesus: Was Jesus Really Buried on the Day of the Crucifixion?

Here is the third and final section of the paper that I read at the Life of Brian conference.  The entire paper tried to argue that parody can be an effective historical method.  By providing a caricature of a narrative or an alleged historical event, the film was able to highlight some very important historical realia that otherwise are too easy to miss, or that have not been given enough prominence by biblical scholars and historians. This third part of my paper is the really controversial one (although part 2 raised some concerns as well!).   Here is where I argue that Jesus was not given a decent burial, and I use the film to explain why. I should say that in a few days I am going to be devoting a sustained thread to just this issue, of why I think the story of Joseph of Arimathea in the NT is legendary, that Jesus was almost certainly not given a decent burial on the day of his crucifixion.  My thread will be a response [...]

2023-07-10T21:38:09-04:00July 11th, 2023|Historical Jesus, Jesus and Film, Public Forum, Video Media|
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