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About BDEhrman

Ehrman is the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he has served as the director of graduate studies and chair of the Department of Religious Studies.

Of COURSE the Rapture is in the New Testament — There for all to see! Right?

In my new book Armageddon, which saw the light of published day just a few days ago, I talk about where the "rapture" came from, the evangelical belief that Jesus was soon to return to snatch his followers out of this world before a horrible time of Tribulation hits the earth. That too will be the subject of a lecture, with Q&A, that I will be giving (unrelated to the blog) on April 15.  For information about THAT, go to my website I left off yesterday with a bit of a tease, indicating that the following passage, one of the main prooftexts for a rapture, is in fact not about the rapture at all.  Here's the passage, and then my explanation: For we tell you this by a word of the Lord: we who are living, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not go before those who sleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God—and the [...]

2023-03-14T13:53:13-04:00March 25th, 2023|Public Forum|

Is The Rapture in the New Testament?

This post is immediately relevant for me in two ways.  My book on Revelation has now appeared (I kept *saying* it was "coming soon"!)  AND I will be doing a lecture soon, April 15, on the idea of the "rapture," the belief that Jesus is soon to return to take his followers out of the world before the Antichrist arises and all hell breaks out on earth.  You don't wanna be here for that.  You don't want to be "Left Behind"!   The lecture is not connected with the blog per se; you can find out more about it on my website, Here, to titillate your interest on both fronts, is a bit of what I say about the rapture in ch. 1 of my book (I say much more about it in a later section): ******************************** Almost everyone today thinks that Revelation provides a blueprint of what is to happen in the near future—at least those who think about it at all. There are, of course, some holdouts, even among conservative Christians, who maintain the [...]

Was the Roman Soldier Pantera Jesus’ Father? His Cousin? Platinum Guest Post by Omar Abur-Robb

As many of you know, one of the perks of being a Platinum member of the blog is that members are allowed to submit posts that go only to other Platinum members, and after four appear a vote is taken to see which one of them can go on the entire blog.  This time it is a controversial and interesting post by Omar Abdur-Robb.  If you have comments / questions, let him know! ****************************** A Summary of an article: Discussing the conclusion of James Tabor related to the relationship between Jesus Pantera and Abdes Pantera, and presenting a new model for this relationship (Jan 2023). Omar Abur-Robb Library:   James Tabor has a conclusion in his informative book “The Jesus Dynasty”. He noticed a reference for a tombstone in Germany that was dedicated to a Roman soldier from Sidon with the name “Abdes Pantera”. This immediately grabbed the attention of Tabor and he started studying it. One of his conclusions in the book was that this soldier might be the true biological father of [...]

2023-03-17T13:47:19-04:00March 22nd, 2023|Historical Jesus, Public Forum|

Armageddon Has Arrived!

Normally one would not welcome Armageddon with rejoicing, but in this instance ....     My book is published today:  Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End.  Now this is a book that has, in some sense, been in the works for 50 years, since the first time I started pondering the Apocalypse of John as a 17 year old, about to head off to Moody Bible Institute and realizing I better read the final book of the NT -- even though I was scared of it -- before taking the first-year Entrance Exam on the Bible possibly whiffing on a question about Revelation.j It took me a while to start figuring out the book -- say, grad school -- and about five years ago, as I began to study it really intensely, I changed my views of it.  Hence the book. For reasons I explain in it, of all the books I've written I think this is the one most relevant for our world at large.  And not because I think the apocalypse will [...]

2023-03-22T15:22:32-04:00March 21st, 2023|Book Discussions, Revelation of John|

Why Would an Atheist Be Obsessed with Jesus?

Some years ago, after I had written my book How Jesus Became God, I was asked to write an article for a journal to explain why, if I'm an atheist, I'm so interested in Jesus.   Some nine or ten years later, I still get asked that a lot.  Twice this past week! Here's the article I wrote, called  “Why I Am Obsessed with Jesus": ****************************** I finally figured out why I’m so obsessed with Jesus. It makes sense that Jesus mattered to me when I was young. I was raised in a Christian household, we went to church, we revered the Bible, and Jesus was God. It makes sense that Jesus mattered to me as a late teenager, when I had a born-again experience and became a conservative evangelical. (What I converted from to “become a Christian” continues to puzzle me.) At that point Jesus became not only my Lord and Savior, but also my best friend and closest ally. It makes sense that Jesus continued to matter to me as I moved away from the [...]

2023-03-20T12:32:38-04:00March 19th, 2023|Public Forum|

You Have No Right To Question Why You Suffer. What???

We come now to the conclusion of the dialogues of Job.   His friends have stridently insisted that he is suffering because he has sinned.  He vehemently argues he has not.  As it turns out, he's right.  Then why is God making him suffer?  Here God himself appears to explain.  Or rather, to insist that he is not going to explain and that Job has no right to ask him to. Is this an answer to suffering?  Or, well, a satisfactory one?  We can't even ask? Decide for yourself.  Here's how I explain the climax of the book of Job in my book God's Problem (HarperOne, 2008). ****************************** Job has no time – or need – to reply to this restatement of his friends’ views.  Before he can respond, God himself appears, in power, to overwhelm Job with his presence and to cow him into submission in the dirt.  God does not appear with a still, small voice from heaven, or in human guise, or in a comforting dream.  He sends a violent and terrifying whirlwind, [...]

2023-03-14T13:37:26-04:00March 18th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Creation Stories of the Ancient World (Part 1): On Enuma Elish and Genesis 1 Guest Post by Joseph Lam

My colleague Joseph Lam is an expert on the languages and texts of the Ancient Near East, including the Hebrew Bible.  In terms of languages, he not only teaches ancient Hebrew, but also (brace yourself), Ugaritic, Akkadian, Syriac, Semitic linguistics, and, well, so on.  He is particularly expert in the relationship of the texts and myths other Ancient Near Eastern religions with those of the Hebrew Bible. Joseph is also a superb teacher, and so he was invited to to a course for the Great Courses (Wondrium) called "Creation Stories of the Ancient World."  The course just came out, and so I have asked Joseph to do a couple of blog posts for us, to introduce all of you to the kinds of things he covers there.   Here are the links to his course and, then, his first post: Wondrium link: The Great Courses link: ****************************** Creation stories tell us who we are, where we came from, and where we are going. They not only describe the origins of the world in [...]

2023-03-16T15:48:46-04:00March 16th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Does God Punish Those Who Do *Right*?

In my last post I began discussing the dialogues at the heart of the book of Job, where Job's friends declare that he is simply getting what he deserves because he is so sinful, and he defends himself by saying he has done nothing to deserve this.  It turns out he's right.  But why then is he suffering?  Here is how the dialogue continues, as the "friends" intensify their attacks on his morals and Job stands firm in declaring his righteousness. ****************************** Sometimes the friends bar no holds in accusing Job, wrongly, of great sin before God, as when Eliphaz later declares:   Is it for your piety that he reproves you, and enters into judgment with you? Is not your wickedness great? There is no end to your iniquities. For you have ... stripped the naked of their clothing. You have given no water to the weary to drink, and you have withheld bread from the hungry... You have sent widows away empty handed, and the arms of the orphans you have crushed. Therefore [...]

2023-03-17T10:52:12-04:00March 15th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Pre-Pub Offer on My Book: ARMAGEDDON!

I am sending out to everyone who might want to know an incentive to pre-order my book Armageddon.  If you're gonna get it anyway -- how 'bout getting it now?  Even if you don't want the offer here -- pre-orders are much appreciated. Here's the offer as we're distributing it. ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ ‌ As you can imagine, authors become very excited when their book is about to be published.  As you might not imagine, they get equally excited about pre-publication sales – orders of the book before it’s available.  These end up mattering a lot. My new book, Armageddon: What the Bible Really Says about the End  (Simon & Schuster) is coming out on March 21 and I would like as many of you to PRE-ORDER it as possible.  To that end I am offering a major incentive. Anyone who purchases the book by midnight of March 20 can receive a 50% discount on any of my online courses – whether a single-lecture-with-Q&A or a full fledged eight-full-lectures-with-two-Q&As (from  – see below). Before explaining how the offer [...]

2023-03-16T11:54:10-04:00March 14th, 2023|Public Forum|

Job and His “Friends.” With Friends Like These…

I have been doing a series of posts on the views of suffering in the book of Job.  I quite intentionally use the plural “views” because, unlike what most people think or assume (those who have any opinion on the matter) the book of Job does not present a solitary view but several views that are at odds with each other.  One of those views is opposed by the author.  But two of them – that are at odds! – are embraced by the author.  Or, rather, we need to use the plural again: by the “authors.”   As I point out, there are at least two authors behind our book of Job, writing at different times, in different places, for different audiences, and setting forth different views.  Only later did some unknown third person combine the writings – one of them a narrative folk tale told in prose (chs. 1-2, 42) and the other a set of dialogues presented in poetry (chs. 3-42). If you haven’t read the previous posts, no worries.  This one and [...]

2023-03-07T13:22:23-05:00March 14th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Live Gold Q&A! Monday March 13.

Dear Gold Members, I will be   my Gold Q&A tomorrow evening, March 13, 7:30 pm -- and anyone who wants to watch is welcome to come!  I've got a great set of questions to deal with and am looking forward to it.  No charge for admission, just show up.  We'll meet and greet, I'll do my thing, and then we can chat for a few minutes after. Here's the link: Topic: Gold Q&A Meeting ID: 922 0749 0998 Passcode: 339508 One tap mobile +16469313860,,92207490998# US +19294362866,,92207490998# US (New York) Dial by your location +1 646 931 3860 US +1 929 436 2866 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 305 224 1968 US +1 309 205 3325 US +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago) +1 386 347 5053 US +1 507 473 4847 US +1 564 217 2000 US +1 669 444 9171 US +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 689 278 1000 US +1 719 359 4580 US +1 253 205 0468 US +1 253 215 8782 [...]

2023-03-12T17:35:08-04:00March 12th, 2023|Public Forum|

What Do the Apostles’ Deaths Prove? Guest Post by Kyle Smith.

This is the final guest post by Kyle Smith, based on his recently published book about martyrs and the cult of the saints in Christianity. There is a special bonus for this post! A significant discount offer to buy the book. Go for it! And whether or not you do buy the book, feel free to ask him questions or make comments on this post, on a widely misunderstood but important topic. Kyle is the author or coauthor of five books about Christian saints and martyrs, including Cult of the Dead: A Brief History of Christianity (University of California Press, 2022). As a special bonus for readers of the blog, you can buy Cult of the Dead today at 40% off the cover price! Click here to order directly from the University of California Press, then select “UC Press” under the “Buying Options” drop down menu and enter coupon code CULT40 at checkout. Offer valid until March 31, 2023. ****************************** The Christian passion for martyrdom began with the cross, but it is often forgotten that this [...]

2023-03-12T12:47:26-04:00March 12th, 2023|Public Forum|

Is the God of Job Worthy of Worship?

Is there any way to consider the God portrayed in Job as a morally upright being who deserves complete devotion?  Read the account yourself.  I have summarized the "folktale" of Job (found in Job 1-2, 42) in my previous post.  This is a tale that portrays God, Job, and the reason for human suffering very differently from the (different) composition of Job 3-42, a set of dialogues between Job and his friends and eventually God that I will discuss in my next posts.  For now I'm interested in the reasons God crushes the righteous Job with suffering in the tale. The overarching view of suffering from the story is clear: sometimes suffering comes to the innocent in order to see whether their pious devotion to God is genuine and disinterested.  Are people faithful only when things are going well, or are they faithful no matter what the circumstances?  Obviously for this author, no matter how bad things get, God still deserves worship and praise. But serious questions can be raised about this perspective, questions raised [...]

2023-02-27T11:13:48-05:00March 11th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

The Story of the Righteous Job and His Righteous God

In my previous post I explained how the book of Job comprises both a folk-tale written in prose about a righteous man named Job (chs. 1-2; 42) and a set of dialogues written in poetry between Job, his so-called friends, and eventually God (chs. 3-42).   These are two different compositions with two different authors living at two different times with two different understandings of why Job and people like him suffer. To unpack these understandings, I begin with the folktale as discussed in my book God's Problem (HarperOne, 2008). ****************************** The Folktale: The Suffering of Job as a Test of Faith The action of the prose folktale alternates between scenes on earth and in heaven.  It begins by indicating that Job lived in the land of Uz; usually this is located in Edom, to the southeast of Israel.  Job, in other words, is not an Israelite.  As a book of “wisdom,” this account is not concerned with specifically Israelite traditions: it is concerned with understanding the world in ways that should make sense to everyone living [...]

2023-02-26T12:34:23-05:00March 9th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Suffering in the Two Books of Job. Two Books?

  After I finished my short thread of posts about the problem of suffering a couple of weeks ago, I realized that it might be helpful for me to discuss one or two of the books of the Bible that deal with the issue head-on -- in part because many people don't read these books much, even if they know about them, and in part because many people who *do* read them don't know how expert interpreters have explained them. For no book is this more true that that gem in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Job.  Or rather those two books, the two books of Job. To talk about Job and what it is really about will require several posts.  This is the first, an introduction to the single most important issue connected with the book that most people have never heard and that completely affects how the book is to be interpreted. This is how I discuss it in my book God's Problem: How the Bible Fails to Answer Our Most Important Question [...]

2023-02-28T13:57:00-05:00March 8th, 2023|Hebrew Bible/Old Testament|

Platinum Webinar! Forgiveness vs. Atonement

Dear Platinum members, It is time (finally!) for our quarterly Platinum webinar, for you Plats only.  We have scheduled it for Wednesday March 15, 7:30 pm EST.  I have decided to delve into a topic that you (or at least I) almost NEVER hear about: the difference between forgiveness and atonement.  This difference plays a significant role in early Christianity, even though, so far as I know, no early Christian talks about it or even seems to recognize it.  And it marks a very big difference between the teachings of Jesus and the preaching of his followers after his death.  It matters a lot for understanding how "salvation" works AND for understanding interpersonal relations. All this will be part of the next book I'm working on, and I've never made a presentation on it!  I'd like to try my ideas out on you.  Wanna come?  Come! Here's the Zoom link.  I'm looking forward to it! Bart

2023-03-20T13:04:11-04:00March 7th, 2023|Public Forum|

Revelation — A Novel. Guest Post Announcing Publication, by Gary McCarragher

Just now published, here is a novel about a New Testament scholar named Bart, at a major university in the South, who comes from a fundamentalist background and continues running up against it.  But this Bart's story ain't mine.  As a novel, this is a fictional narrative, which does, however, deal with issues that I and many of you have confronted and dealt with at length: how to come to grips with a historical understanding of the New Testament when coming from an evangelical world, a world still inhabited by those we love. Gary McCarragher is a blog member, a physician, and award-winning author.  He contacted me a couple of years ago to see if I'd be willing to consult with him on his novel.  As some of you know, I run a writing consultation service off my website (unconnected with the blog)  for authors of fiction and nonfiction, screenwriters, and playwrights.  Gary and I had a number of sessions about his work, and it has resulted now in this novel, Revelation .  I found [...]

2023-03-06T11:30:48-05:00March 7th, 2023|Book Discussions, Public Forum|

March Gold Q&A: Submit your questions!

Dear Goldies, Our monthly Gold Q&A is coming upon us.  DEADLINE for your question(s):  this coming Friday, March 10, midnight your time.    Interested in anything I can deal with?   Now's your chance: Ask away! 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 sometime over the few days after that.  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  

2023-03-06T21:08:41-05:00March 6th, 2023|Public Forum|

The Voice at Jesus’ Baptism–An Intriguing Version in the Gospel of the Ebionites

Last week in my class on "Jesus in Scholarship and Film" we were discussing the intriguing little fact that when Jesus is baptized, the voice of God that comes from heaven to call him his Son says different things in each of the three Synoptic Gospels (there is no voice in the Gospel of John).  How does one explain that?  It made me think of the Gospel of the Ebionites, and I started wondering if I ever talked about it on the blog. It turns out the answer is yes.  Here is a post devoted to it, from years ago -- which begins with a general discussion of it along with two other "Jewish-Christian Gospels," and ends with a description of its rather clever way of reconciling the three accounts of the voice from heaven. ****************************** Yesterday in my graduate seminar we spent three hours analyzing the three so-called “Jewish-Christian Gospels.” These are very tricky texts to deal with. We don’t have any manuscripts of them – even small fragments. They come to us, instead, [...]

2023-02-21T11:05:21-05:00March 5th, 2023|Public Forum|

Is the Gospel of Mark in Papias Our Gospel of Mark?

Can we trust a source such as Papias on the question of whether our Gospel of Matthew was written by the disciple Matthew and that our Gospel of Mark was written by Mark, the companion of the disciple Peter? It is interesting that Papias tells a story that is recorded in our Matthew but tells it so completely differently that it appears he doesn’t know Matthew’s version.  And so when he says Matthew wrote Matthew, is he referring to *our* Matthew, or to some other book?  (Recall, the Gospel he refers to is a collection of Jesus’ sayings in Hebrew; the Gospel of Matthew that *we* have is a narrative, not a collection of sayings, and was written in Greek.)  If he *is* referring to our Matthew, why doesn’t he see it as an authoritative account? Here's the conflicting story.  It involves the death of Judas.  And it’s quite a story!  Here is my translation of it from my edition, The Apostolic Fathers (Loeb Classical Library, vol. 1; 2004). But Judas went about in this [...]

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