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A Blog Anniversary! Seven Years!

Today is the seven anniversary of the blog.   My first post (which I reposted a few days ago) appeared on April 3, 2012.  I never thought it would last this long.  I figured I would run out of things to say in about six months.   Hasn’t happened yet!   There’s so much interesting material back in ancient Christianity, starting with Jesus and the New Testament, and going on up through the next three hundred years, that it seems inexhaustible.  And readers have so many interesting and important questions, many of them that take numerous posts just to answer (without even getting into the weeds).

When I started the blog I was really not sure what it would be or become.  In *principal* I knew what I had in mind.  The idea was guided by two desiderata: (1) to disseminate scholarly knowledge about the New Testament and early Christianity to a wider reading public of non-scholars, in terms that were intelligent and sensible, but not overly technical or loaded with jargon or requiring extensive background information; and (2) by doing so raise money for charity.

The entire idea of the blog – suggested to me by a friend in a late-night bar, as it turns out – was to figure out a way to use my unusual (translate: weird) skill-set in a way that would benefit someone other than myself and fellow scholars.  Most of us who become scholars do so because it is a passion we have to pursue (if we didn’t *have* to do it, we’d be crazy to try.  It’s way, way too much pain getting a PhD in a field like this.).   In short, it’s about us.

And we write our scholarly articles and books for others who share our passion and think it’s important for the world at large.  But rarely do we, as scholars, give a ton of thought to that world at large, except – this is a huge exception – in our undergraduate classes, where we pass along our knowledge to 20 year olds who need to be educated in important topic.  But what about people who are no longer in college?

Some of us publish trade books for general audiences, and for a lot of authors that’s all about disseminating their knowledge for the public good.  For a lot of others it’s about fame and money.  For most, I suppose, it’s a combination of the two.   So that’s a benefit to the world at large.  But in high-level academic circles, that kind of publishing is looked down upon – this will surprise a lot of readers – as “selling out,” and not being “serious,” and “sensationalizing,” and “being all about the money and not about the scholarship,” and …. and lots of other negative and minimizing things.  No professor in a major research university who writes trade books for general audiences is rewarded by her or his institution for doing so.  More often they are looked down upon.  No way in the world a book like that will help for tenure, promotion, or salary.  And many, many colleagues really do kind of smirk at it and think you’ve given up on anything serious.  Oh boy do they.  “You’re just a popularizer.”

But some people do see the need to reach broader audiences, and I’d say it’s a growing trend.  Or maybe it’s just that it’s the part of the stream that I find myself often (not always) swimming in.  And there are other trends throughout society to make scholarship known to the wider public, most noticeably in venues such as the Great Courses, which, if you don’t know about, you really should!

In any event, this friend of mine over a glass of wine suggested that start a blog about the New Testament (he was a non-scholar, but deeply interested in reading and learning) for interested normal folk (as opposed to abnormal scholars) and pointed out I could charge for it.  I thought he was crazy.  For one thing, who would join?  For another thing, I don’t need the money.  I’d rather spend my time working on scholarship.  But he pointed out that I could give the money away to good causes.

That got me seriously to thinking.  Maybe I *could* do that.  I’ve always had a soft spot for charities helping the poor and needy, the hungry, the homeless, the outcast.   (I’m one of those people who can’t believe that *everyone* doesn’t have that soft spot.)   And so I put the idea in the back of my mind and every now and then would think about it, what it would entail, how much of my life it would take, how it could actually be pulled off.   It took a couple of years before I thought seriously about pursuing it.

As I recall it (this would be eight or nine years ago) Steven Ray, the computer whiz, website designer, and skilled administrator who has been with me from the beginning and keeps this ball rolling on both the macro and micro level, contacted me out of the blue (he maybe had read one of my books?) to see if I needed any computer / website / social media assistance.  I looked into his work, decided to start talking to him about the possibilities of some kind of blog (or app or whatever) to raise money for charity.  He was gung ho.  We worked it all out over the course of months and months.

There were all sorts of administrative headaches: I had to apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS, get a lawyer involved, draw up documents to make us official, etc. etc.

And then there was the problem of how to structure it: what to post on, at what level (not high-level scholarly obviously; but where to pitch it?), with what tone (how to avoid Internet rudeness and vitriol!), and how often?   I figured that if people were paying, they needed constant content.  And so I determined to make it 5-6 times a week, about a thousand words a post, on a range of topics over Christianity’s first four centuries.   It’s pretty much turned out that way.  Now seven years later it is five times a week, roughly 1200 words a post.

My initial thought was that we could raise $20,000 a year after we got established, and that seemed like a good goal to me.  But I wondered if I would want to sustain it for more than a couple of years.  It turns out that I no longer seem to have a choice!

So, the very, very good news.  The blog continues to grow.  We have over 7100 paying members.   The revenue has grown steadily, massively beyond my original expectations, moving into what seem to me to be fairly whopping numbers.  During this past year (as of this morning) we raised and distributed $158,000 to charity.  That’s an increase of more than 13% over the year before, 34% over two years ago.    Altogether, we have now raised and distributed over $700,000.   That’s some serious money.   As an ambitious and driven fellow (I try to think of this as a good thing, so long as it’s under control), I continue to set higher and higher goals.   I’d like us to do even better next year.

The blog seems very healthy in every other way as well.  Posts come out regularly; we get lots of comments; I try to answer all the questions.   Over the past seven years I have made 2013 posts (this will be 2014); that is over five and a half per week, each and every week.  Haven’t missed a week yet!   And we have received from all of you, and posted, 80,459 comments!   Over eleven thousand a year, 220 a week.  Yikes.  And growing

There’s a lot more that can be said, but that’s basically where we are.  A couple of final comments:

  • If there are things we think we can improve, *please* let us know, whether involving either content, conception, lay-out, customer service, anything.
  • We very much want to grow both in membership and revenue. Two ways you can help us out.  We would appreciate both very, very much.
    • If you are really happy with the blog and want to show your appreciation, please consider making a donation to the blog. We have received donations from $5 to $5000.   We will take anything you can give and will be forever thankful.  None of the money comes to me.  It ALL goes to charity.  But it is the reason I keep this thing going, even though it consumes a chunk of my life that I could be devoting to other things I really long to do as well.  But who can turn a back on all the good things connected with the blog??   All donations, whether one-time shots or set up as ongoing periodic contributions are very, very welcome.
    • Also, please spread the word about the blog. That doesn’t cost you a penny.  There are lots and lots and lots of people who would be interested in joining, if they only knew about it.  Tell anyone who is potentially in that crowd: family members; friends; neighbors; members of your church; synagogue; or civic group; your dentist, lawyer; or plumber.   And consider giving GIFT memberships (easy to do: just click the button on the homepage) to some of these.

In conclusion I’d like to thank Steven for his incredible hard work and dedication to the blog.  It wouldn’t happen without him.   He is skilled, sensible, and savvy.     And thanks to all of you as well.  You are not just the paying members; you are the raison d’être!

Fund Raising Event on the Blog: Contradictions in the Gospels??
Secular Versions of the Coming Apocalypse



  1. Avatar
    Drmagana  April 3, 2019

    Congratulations Bart.
    And thank you for share all your knowledge.
    Best wishes
    Dr Magaña Urzua

  2. Avatar
    RonaldTaska  April 3, 2019

    Many thanks to Steve and you. I have no suggestions except to keep going and don’t wear yourself out. Repeat blogs are a good thing so do that when your schedule gets too hectic.

  3. Avatar
    jeffmd90  April 3, 2019

    Happy Blog Day to you,
    Happy Blog Day to you,
    Happy Blog Day Dear Bart,
    Happy Blog Day to you!

    For he’s a jolly good scholar,
    For he’s a jolly good scholar,
    For he’s a jolly good scholar.
    And so say all of us!

  4. Avatar
    JohnKesler  April 3, 2019

    Thank you, Bart, for all that you do for charity and teaching about the New Testament. Are there any scholars of the Hebrew Bible that you know who might be persuaded to start a similar blog? Perhaps the amount of money raised to help the less fortunate would open eyes about a blog’s potential.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2019

      I wish someone *would* take that up.

      • Avatar
        JohnKesler  April 7, 2019

        1) What about your friend Amy-Jill Levine? 2) Do you know Richard Elliott Friedman, Shaye J.D. Cohen, Mark S. Smith, or John Day? Any of them would be an excellent blogger on the Hebrew Bible.

        • Bart
          Bart  April 8, 2019

          Amy-Jill would be great, but she’s principally a New Testament scholar like me. Yes, the others would be great.

          • Avatar
            JohnKesler  April 8, 2019

            I know, but she is also a scholar of the Hebrew Bible. I own VHS (yep, VHS) tapes of her lectures on the Hebrew Bible: https://www.thegreatcourses.com/courses/old-testament.html It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

          • Bart
            Bart  April 9, 2019

            I’d be happy for someone to do this on the OT, though I suspect it will need to be someone who has it as their deep and primary expertise. Others will have to plead for them to do it though!

  5. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  April 3, 2019

    I think it’s pretty obvious what the blog needs: More Cowbell


    • Avatar
      kqn  April 5, 2019

      A serious LOL. Nearly spilled my coffee. Classic SNL.

  6. Avatar
    fishician  April 3, 2019

    Congratulations! I don’t think scholarship is really much good unless eventually in some way, directly or indirectly, it filters out to the public at large and has some effect on how people think or behave. You have done an excellent job of getting what might otherwise just be insider knowledge out to the public. Keep it up!

    • Avatar
      Bewilderbeast  April 30, 2019

      Right. Came here to say that, plus advance a theory: Putting your stuff out there in user-friendly format (‘popularising’) is scary and opens one to criticism and embarrassment when occasional mistakes are made. Hiding is easier. Sunlight and air is good for – or needed for – almost all ventures, and I think the braver scholars venture out. And thank goodness for them.

  7. JMJ
    JMJ  April 3, 2019

    Congratulations on this anniversary of your blog. 🎉 I am very appreciative of your ‘weird’ skill set. Many years ago I read Misquoting Jesus and mentioned to a Christian friend that the gospels were not written by the disciples of Jesus and she became so upset she said she would not believe it. Then I mentioned the same thing, as well as your name, books, and skill set, to people in a different Christian group last year and they vehemently denied that the disciples of Jesus (or anyone that wasn’t a disciple of a disciple of Jesus) didn’t write the gospels, and they very strongly said Peter was the first Pope and he knew he was the first Pope. Sigh. Christians need to know the historical truth about Jesus and Scripture so our faith can be based on truth, not fiction, but unfortunately many people think you have an ax to grind against Christianity and automatically disregard anything with your name on it, and those of us who have a desire to spread the historical truth you reveal could be considered the ‘enemy within’. It’s unfortunate many Christians are so closed-minded. Your books and blog with the knowledge of the historical truth has strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ and someday I hope and pray for at least a handful of open-minded Christians in my church interested in getting together to start a home group discussing your books/blog and how to reconcile the historical truth with our faith in Jesus Christ. Anything is possible with God!

  8. Avatar
    godspell  April 3, 2019

    Something of a rarity these days–an anniversary I’m pleased to celebrate.

    It is not, perhaps, a virtual classroom, this blog of yours, but it has provided a place for learning about one of history’s most important topics.

    And a place for charity–fittingly so! Since the word and indeed the very concept is of Christian origins, if not the emotions that give rise to it, which are universal.

    I had to get that in there. 😉

  9. Avatar
    gbsinkers  April 3, 2019

    Well done!!! When I first read your trade books and then your blog I was amazed at how little I knew about the Bible, and particularly the New Testament and I had been a Christian for 35+ years and in many “Bible Studies”. That’s a misnomer if ever there was one! Of course I didn’t take your word for it, I dug deeper, found other respected academicians who said mostly the same thing and truly began to study the Bible like never before. I found that your writing style was by far the easiest to consume and so I joined the blog around 2.5 years ago and read every post as they come out and continue to learn more. I tried to read every post from the beginning but only got to about the 3 year mark before I gave up. (I would have continued but for some reason my browser quit highlighting the posts I had read and I lost my place.) Thanks for doing this and especially for the charities you support. I’ve always wondered though, why $24.95 and not an even $25 for the annual membership, care to enlighten?

  10. Avatar
    dennislk1  April 3, 2019

    Dr. Ehrman,

    Happy 7th anniversary and congratulations on the success of your Blog!

    You are generous with your knowledge and generous with your resources and it is appreciated by those (like myself) who would be worse off without it.

    Thank you,
    Dennis Keister

  11. Avatar
    Ask21771  April 3, 2019

    the beginning of 2 timothy 3 describes what people will be like in the end times, how long have people been like what 2 timothy 3 describes

  12. Avatar
    prairieian  April 3, 2019

    Congrats on your anniversary – well done indeed. I am quite amazed at your output week in, week out. However, you know your stuff inside out and backwards and I suspect you write fast. You’d have to just to get the blog done as well as your other duties.

    One comment regarding scholarly work vs popular or trade work. I am of the view that scholars absolutely need to write for the intelligent lay community or their work is restricted to an incestuous echo chamber. In particular, those in the Liberal arts have a special obligation. We live in a word of made up facts and uncritical thinking that needs a corrective. Those in the Liberal Arts have the skills and capacity to counter this problem. All the specialties in the broad field of Liberal Arts need to present their patch to the wider world. The denigration of this by some in the Ivory Tower is entirely misguided.

    Keep it up.

  13. Avatar
    chixter  April 3, 2019

    Congratulations on 7 years!!! An anniversary donation has been sent. Thank you for all of the information I have learned from your work. I have to ask…do you or any other readers here sometimes wonder if the Gnostics were correct on this whole thing? It is a question I ponder from time to time.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2019

      Not so much. What I’ve come to see is that different Gnostics had very, very different views of things — so that there wasn’t just one view that we can label Gnostic. And if one group was perfectly right, then the other groups….

  14. Avatar
    rivercrowman  April 3, 2019

    The fact that you publish many interesting trade books and maintain a successful and very active blog demonstrates that you possess altruism.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2019

      Thanks! But my personal sense is that it demonstrates that I wish I did!

  15. Robert
    Robert  April 3, 2019

    I will strenuously resist the temptation to allude to Yosef ben Yacov’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams as doubly predicting 7 fat years to be followed by 7 lean years in order to avoid frightening your tender recovering-fundamentalist soul.

    I first learned of your blog 7 years ago through Larry Hurtado’s blog post here:


    At the time, I think I only knew second or third-hand of your popular works* and was not inclined to give you a second look as a genuine scholar, but Larry assured me you had indeed made scholarly contributions, despite his otherwise rather denigrating tone toward your popularist books.

    Glad he did and doubly glad I took a second look and joined your blog! In dust and ashes, I will continue to try and restrain my European-bred arrogance toward American popularists.

    *Maybe I had already skimmed your book on Jesus the apocalyptic prophet at that time.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2019

      How funny. Yes, for the first fifteen years of my academic career I was interested *only* in scholarship, not in reaching a general public. My first couple of books … no one wants to go there!

  16. Avatar
    AstaKask  April 4, 2019

    It’s too bad that public outreach is looked-down upon by the academic community. An academic institution should not only generate knowledge and train new academics, it should also strive to disseminate that knowledge among the general public. Sean Carroll has said the same thing about his book-writing and the price he has paid professionally for teaching the public what the public actually paid for.

  17. John4
    John4  April 4, 2019

    On the seventh anniversary of your blog you wrote this:
    “In *principal* I knew what I had in mind.”

    I think, Bart, you here intended “in *principle*”.

    From dictionary.com:

    in principle , in essence or substance; fundamentally:
    to accept a plan in principle.

    on principle ,
    a. according to personal rules for right conduct; as a matter of moral principle:
    He refused on principle to agree to the terms of the treaty.
    b. according to a fixed rule, method, or practice:
    He drank hot milk every night on principle.


    Thanks! 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  April 4, 2019

      Ha!! You’re right! But then again, this was my principal principle….

  18. Avatar
    Hickman777  April 4, 2019

    Question: Have you signed a contract with the Great Courses for a new course yet?
    One of the unintended benefits of your blog is that you have a “base” of 7100 people who are going to buy every book and course on the day of release! Your publishers should be interested in that.
    Congrats on your anniversary. P.S. My wife and I have read 20 of your books and have watched all of your Great Courses at least once. Your influence is GREAT!

    • Bart
      Bart  April 5, 2019

      Yup, I’m scheduled to do a course on The Triumph of Christianity; the Great Courses is working closely with the publisher of my book, Simon & Schuster, for marketing etc.

      20? Wow….

  19. Avatar
    madmargie  April 4, 2019

    I have a question I haven’t seen addressed, Bart. Where did the idea of “personal salvation in a heaven” come from? Jesus seemed to teach taking care of the poor and helpless in THIS life. Of course, I could have missed such a post but I usually read all of them.

    • Bart
      Bart  April 5, 2019

      Yup, that’s what I try to discuss in my new book, due out next year about this time!

  20. Avatar
    Bewilderbeast  April 4, 2019

    I LIKE your pub friend! And for what it’s worth, scientists, scholars and experts who disseminate ‘for the public understanding of science, etc’ are the real menschs and good guys. Sniffy ivory tower scientists who look down on ‘trade books’ and ‘popularisers’ are part of The Problem – and they play into the hands of the anti-science populists.
    I would ask the high and mighties only one question: When your grandkids ask: “Grandad, what do you do?” do you tell them to p*ss off!!!!!?? Grrr

    • Avatar
      Bewilderbeast  April 30, 2019

      I’m adding to the above post:
      And I would say to the high and mighties: Of course you don’t, because you are a good and decent Grandparent. You would carefully explain to your grandchild in layman terms what you do. NOW: Write down what you say to them. Embarrassed? Good. So now, write it down again and work on it and improve it until – FINALLY – you are comfortable with letting the world see how you explain to a layman what you do (or are currently doing). THERE!! You have risen to the level of a ‘populariser!!’

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