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About the Blog

I have now finished with my extensive comments on Jesus’ burial.  Some of you may be relieved to hear that.  I know I am!   That was the most intense thread that I’ve done on the blog since its inception over two years ago.   It was really more like producing scholarship than anything else I’ve done.   And I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

So now I can move on to other things on the blog.  If you weren’t really into that more hard-core kind of thing, then I hope that the sorts of things that I’ll be doing now for a while will strike your fancy.

I thought this would be a good time to pause and think a bit about the blog, and to hear your ideas and suggestions for it.   As probably everyone on the blog knows, I have two major objectives in doing it, one far more major than the other.

The one that is *less* major for me is the one that is *more* major for virtually everyone else.  I think it’s safe to say that virtually everyone who has joined the blog has shelled out their hard-earned dollars for the privilege in order to hear more (and more and more) about the various topics that I focus on here.

The emphasis, of course, is on early Christianity: hence the name of the blog, “Christianity in Antiquity: the CIA.”    But I have defined that topic very broadly, and have tried to provide a good balance to the various posts that I make – as you can see simply by looking at the Member Categories and seeing the various posts under them.   In my 28 months (count them, 28) of doing this blog I’ve covered a range of topics from the Greco-Roman world of the New Testament, ancient Judaism, the historical Jesus, the Gospels, the apostle Paul, early Christian apocrypha, manuscripts of the New Testament, and lots of other things, including some areas farther afield, such as the Hebrew Bible and Religion in the News.

I enjoy being able to cover so many different topics.  It keeps things lively for me and keeps the blog from stagnating into being just about one thing.  It’s about a ton of things, but all of them related to early Christianity in one way or another.

The other major objective that I have – the one that is *more* important to me, and less important, I would judge, for everyone else – is to raise money for charity.  That is the very raison d’être for the blog, and it’s what keeps me going at it.

It’s not that I don’t want to provide all the content that I provide.  I absolutely do.  But at the end of the day, that’s not why I do the blog.   My sense is that *most* people who have blogs put in the effort because they want the wider world to know what they are thinking.   That’s certainly true, I think, of most blogs involving the New Testament, early Christianity, the historical Jesus and … well, probably religion generally.   But that’s not what drives me.   If it were up to me, by myself, I’d be happy not to do the blog, and just to write books.   But doing the blog is a way for me to raise money for charities that I  believe in and want to support.

My view is that everyone who is able to do something for charity (which would include most of us here) should do *something* — volunteer, give money, lend moral support, whatever.   When I decided to start this blog is was because it seemed to me that this was a way for me to use whatever talents I have for a good cause, something that not everyone else, with their unique gifts, could do.

We’ve done a lot of good on this blog, raising money for charities dealing with hunger and homelessness.   And I want us to do more and more.

And so that’s the point of this post.  Most of you are on the blog for one reason and I’m doing it, ultimately, for another reason.   I need to make sure that both needs are being met, since the more attractive the blog is for you, the users, then the more attractive it will be for others so that they too will join up, and that will achieve my own aim.   I think users get very good value for their money.   A year’s membership comes down to just over $2 per month.  And for that sum one gets 5-6 posts a week, at an average of a 1000 words per post (these posts on Jesus’ burial were often longer, sometimes much longer).   So, let’s say that’s 5500 words a week, or 22,000 words a month.   For $2.    You can’t get a  Big Mac for $2.  You can barely get *half* of a Big Mac for $2.  And this blog is SO much better for you than a Big Mac.

As I indicated a couple of months ago, the blog has already earned over $100,000.  Every penny has gone to charity.   I want it to do more.  My immediate goal is to make it early $100,000 per year.  That’s a way off, but it’s doable.

And so, the short story:  I want the membership on the blog to grow (and grow and grow).   To that end, I would like your suggestions.  What can I do to make it more attractive (the members’ main interest) so that even more will join at an even faster pace so that it raises even more money for charity (my main interest?)

Make your comments to this post.  I won’t be able to respond to them all.  And I won’t be able to implement them all.   But many of you have many good ideas, and I would like to hear them.   Among other things I’d like to know whether you think that I’m posting too much.  Or if posts are too long.  Or if they are too technical.  Or if there is not enough variety.  Or if there are other kinds of broad topics that I should be addressing.   Or if there are technical features of the blog itself that could be improved.  Or if there are other ways that I can advertise and attract new members.   Or use my resources to raise more money through the blog.   (Everyone, btw, should feel free to make a donation, as generous as you can!  It’s easy to do, and always extremely appreciated.)

In your comments to this particular post, I’d rather that you not get into specific questions you’d like me to address (“What does ‘Iscariot’ mean?  Was the Life of Apollonius modeled on the Gospels?  Was Paul gay?  or whatever….).   I’ll ask for those questions in a subsequent post.  For now I’m thinking more big picture.  What can we do to improve?  If the answer is “Nothing – it’s perfect in every way” – that’s fine too!

Let me conclude just by thanking everyone for supporting the blog and the charities that it is designed to help.  I very much appreciate all the active, and passive, participation.


My Debate with Dinesh D’Souza on the Problem of Suffering
The Skeletal Remains of Yehohanan and Their Significance

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Comments

  1. Avatar
    rwbower  August 4, 2014

    Maybe something along the lines of the affects of Hellenism on 1st Century Christianity.

  2. Avatar
    rwbower  August 4, 2014

    Also another interest of mine was the Persian influence (Zoroastrianism) on Judaism and the trickle down affect that it had on Christian thinking.

    • Avatar
      BrianUlrich  August 6, 2014

      I, too, am interested in this, as it seems a contentious yet important topic that even rises to the level of being something I like to address in my world history surveys as well as contributing to my personal knowledge. Part of the difficult, of course, is probably figuring out what Zoroastrians believed when.

  3. Avatar
    Joseph  August 4, 2014

    How about inviting some of your colleagues to join. I’m thinking colleges who also teach, like
    Dr. Dale Martin, for example. With all their students and additional expertise, I think you could potentially get a lot more subscribers.
    Ps… For what its worth, the more scholarly the blog the better!
    Thanks for asking for input!

  4. Avatar
    mdw91170  August 4, 2014

    As one of those former students of 20 years ago (Class of ’92, Go Heels!), I definitely know (but better yet understand) these topics more than I did back then precisely due to my own interest in study after your classes and access to materials such as this blog. I enjoy it immensely. I think the length, variety, and number of posts per week is perfect, unless you wanted to reduce the posts by one per week to respond to member comments a little more. Not sure of the number of members and where they’re located, but certainly additional money could be raised by hosting a member “Sit in with Bart” once a year maybe where money could be contributed and we could meet and talk with you in Chapel Hill or somewhere else. Besides talking about questions we may have about the issues discussed in the blog, we could discuss how to get the word out, etc. Just a wacky thought.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 5, 2014

      Interesting idea. Write me a private note and tell me what you’ve been doing since ’92. Go Heels!

  5. Avatar
    PamelaOConnorChapman  August 5, 2014

    Please do not change anything about the Blog – it is so significant to me – increasing my knowledge and encouraging me be to explore deeper. However, I would like to see a few posts on the Book of Revelation and some of the other books in the NT outside of the 4 gospels. The Revelation ( along with the Book of Daniel) are foundation books for SDA which is the 12 largest religious body in the world.
    I am most impressed with you Dr. Ehrman using the Blog proceeds to give to charities and in some small way I want to do more. I am 8 days into my 30 day Starbucks “detox” and plan to donate my $5.50/day to to the Bart Ehrman Blog. I only share this as a challenge to someone else to do the same with whatever they can give up for 30 days.

  6. Avatar
    dragonfly  August 5, 2014

    Can I get the posts emailed directly to me? And/or make the blog more readable on a mobile?

  7. Gary
    Gary  August 5, 2014

    I love the blog. I have some suggestions that might increase revenue and (hopefully) would have minimal costs.

    1. I’d like to give “gift” subscriptions to the blog. Right now I’ll need to register my gift recipient by creating a new user name and password for them and pay for the “gift” through PayPal. (Then remember to go back to PayPal and take if off the auto renew list!) I suggest creating a “GIFT” button that takes me straight to PayPal where I pay for the membership. You or the blog then send a nice (automated) welcoming e-mail back with a coupon code and a link to the registration page. I can then forward the “welcome to the blog” e-mail to my recipient for them to register using the coupon code. The gift membership shouldn’t auto renew.

    2. I donate monthly to the foundation. The DONATE button takes me to PayPal and I enter the amount I’m donating. There is a check box if I want to make it a monthly recurring donation. The DONATE button COULD take me to a page like the register page where options like $5.00 Monthly, $10,00 Monthly, $25.00 Monthly or “OTHER Amount” are displayed. I check the donation I want to make and proceed to the PayPal payment page to complete the process. I wouldn’t be offended by the suggested amounts. It might yield more monthly donations.

    3. Place the “DONATE” and new “GIFT” Membership buttons on the toolbar at the top of the blog page next to the RSS and Facebook icons.

    Would you consider posting and updating monthly a statement or graph showing the total donations the blog has made to help reduce suffering?

    Thanks for all you do. I’m glad I can help at least a little.

  8. Avatar
    JudithW.Coyle  August 5, 2014

    Dr. Ehrman,

    As much as I enjoy each of your posts (and look for them daily!), two or three posts a week would be alright. That would cut down on my concern for your not allowing enough time for YOU.

    Please do not change anything. It’s perfect just as it is.

    Your membership is going to grow without your doing anything. I say this because even I – in a small southern town – am spreading the word. It’s just natural to want to share the good things.

    Judy

  9. Avatar
    willow  August 6, 2014

    Just one suggestion: Don’t mess with perfection!

  10. Avatar
    dragonfly  August 6, 2014

    How about having the current yearly total on the screen, and maybe a link to a description of where the money is going and what that much will do? Maybe if it got to something like $99,000 we could all rush to bump it over the line.

  11. Avatar
    MarianAllen  August 7, 2014

    When I log in, I would like to be redirected to the page I was reading, not to the Members Landing Page. Then I have to search and dig to get back to where I was. It goes without saying that I appreciate your scholarship and your generosity with your mind and the money that you could earn from the blog, but it *doesn’t* go without saying — I’m saying it. 🙂 Thank you.

  12. Bethany
    Bethany  August 12, 2014

    My biggest peeve has already been fixed… the two separate posts for members and non-members, so that if I accidentally clicked the wrong one, I had to go back and find the other. It would be nice if it could be done retroactively so that we didn’t have two posts listed for everything on the Member’s Landing Page. (Actually, why are the non-member posts listed at all on the Member’s Landing Page? It’s the *Member’s* landing page, after all…)

    Agreed with the preceding poster that I’d like it if logging in took me back to the page where I was at.

    One big thing I’d really like is a “previous post” and “next post” button on the posts, including retroactively. It’s frustrating to click on a post via the Member’s Landing Page and realize you’ve stumbled onto a middle post in a series and now have to try to find “yesterday’s post” or “tomorrow’s post” mentioned in the entry, which is not always straightforward since they’re not always in the same category on the Landing Page (or there at all, see next point).

    One thing I’ve noticed occasionally when I use the website search function: there are posts on the blog that aren’t listed on the Member’s Landing Page. I don’t know if that’s intentional or not, but it does make those posts easy to overlook.

  13. Avatar
    sleonard  August 13, 2014

    1. I liked samchahal’s idea about tiered memberships. Not sure what the tiers would get you. But the top tier could be something along the lines of what mdw91170 mentioned: a one day a year afternoon with Bart on campus or something like that.

    2. Agree with Adam0685 and others that fewer posts per week would be ok. I can usually keep up with your current posting schedule, but occasionally have fallen quite far behind.

    3. Agree with Bethany (and not with Wilusa) that having a single post for members and non-members is great. So happy when this went live.

    4. Technical suggestion – better tools for you to moderate comments. I often see comments from you responding to someone’s comment saying “I don’t know what your comment is in reference to,” but while reading the comment thread, the context is obvious. When you see the comments, do you see them by themselves, or within a comment thread?

    Cheers

  14. Avatar
    Ronhenn  August 14, 2014

    I’m new to the blog, but am VERY pleased with the content so far. The only thing I would like to see more of might make the others gag a bit, but I’ll mention it just in case i’m wrong! I used to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses and we would be constantly arguing with other groups about the proper translation/interpretation of various verses, largely having to do with the divinity of Christ. John 1:1 is the best example. Was Jesus God or was he ‘a god?’ Well, I imagine that background has left me with an interest in problem texts and controversies of translation/interpretation. I’d be happy to see an occasional blog on this or that controversial passage in Greek along with your opinion on its best interpretation. As I said, that might chase more suscribers off than it attracts, and I can’t afford the whole $100,000 if I end up as the the only suscriber! But that’s the only addition that occurs to me to make.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 15, 2014

      Yes, several people have asked me this over the past couple of years. I think “God” is the better translation, but it’s for technical reasons involving Greek grammar. I’ll think about devoting a post to it some time.

  15. Avatar
    Ronhenn  August 15, 2014

    I only mention John 1:1 as an example. Witnesses, being non-trinitarians, naturally are fixated on verses that imply Christ is God. I’d be just as interested in hearing your opinion of the underlying grammar of verses, the interpretation of which, leads to theological disagreements among other denominations.

    • Bart Ehrman
      Bart Ehrman  August 16, 2014

      The normal view among scholars is that since the word for God, THEOS, is the predicate noun, rather than the subject, of the sentence, and that it precedes the subject (“the Word”/LOGOS) which *is* definite, it, THEOS, does not need the article also to be definite, so that it is “God” rather than “a god.” But it is debated, as another lengthy and insightful comment on the blog has shown.

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