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So far Diane has created 146 blog entries.

A Remembrance of John Shelby Spong–Platinum Post By Ray Zubler

I am pleased to be able to post this post by platinum member Ray Zubler; it is a recollection/commemoration of John Shelby Spong, whom many of you know of as one of the great voices that spread criitical knowledge of the Bible and early Christianity to broader audiences.  Spong was a bishop of the Episcopal Church who nonetheless realized the deep problems posed by the Bible and traditional theological views for modern thinking people.  Spong discussed these issues *within* the context of the Christian church as a Christian church leader, and so he reached a large number of Christians who would pay no attention to critical scholars on the outside.  Ray has here presented some very helpful reflections on him and his work. Remember: you too can present a Platinum Post to Platnium Members as a Platinum yourself!  Anything related to what we do works!  Let me know if you're at all interested -- or just send us a post. ****************************** “Faith can never rest on perceptions that are intellectually unbelievable.” – John Shelby Spong [...]

2024-07-02T15:19:56-04:00July 12th, 2024|Public Forum|

The Evolution of Jewish Monotheism–Platinum Post By Daniel Kohanski

Were ancient Israelites and then later Jews actually monotheists?  What would that actually even mean?  Did their belief in the gods/God change over time?  Here is an intriguing and informed discussion by Platinum blog member Dan Kohanski.  What do you think?   ****************************** The Evolution of Jewish Monotheism[1] Monotheism—the idea that there is one and only one divine Being in the universe—is the underlying foundation of Judaism. Jews reaffirm this twice a day by reciting the Shema, the basic statement of the Jewish faith: "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One." This belief is said to have started with Abraham and established for all by Moses at Sinai as one of the Ten Commandments: "You shall have no other Gods besides Me" (Ex. 20:3). But is this really the way it happened in history, even in Biblical history? I suggest that the idea of monotheism evolved only gradually among the ancient Israelites, and even after it was generally accepted by their descendants the Jews, it was not completely so until Roman [...]

2024-07-07T15:21:01-04:00July 8th, 2024|Public Forum|

July Gold Q&A: Your Turn

Summertime, and Gold Q&A time! I'll be recording another Q&A for all Gold & Platinum members soon, so here's your chance to take advantage of this perk. Send me whatever question has been nagging at you (blog-related, of course!). Short, to-the-point questions of general interest are most likely to get answered. Send an email to Diane at [email protected], and she'll compile all your questions for me. DEADLINE: Please get your question in by Friday of next week (07/12/2024) at midnight (whenever midnight is in your time zone).  

2024-04-09T14:46:06-04:00July 5th, 2024|Public Forum|

Does God Have Chromosomes? Guest Post by Douglas Wadeson, MD

What happens when a modern physician starts asking difficult questions of familiar biblical stories?  Here is one answer:  an intriguing post covering a topic that will not have occurred to most of us.  Let's think about how a Virgin Birth works when (now, unlike antiquity) we have a pretty good idea of how Births work in general.  If God made Mary pregnant through the spirit, what does that have to say about the nature of Jesus' at the biological level and, well, the chromosomes of God? This Platinum guest post is delivered to us courtesy of Platinum member Doug Wadeson.  As I've mentioned, Platinum members can publish posts for other Platinum members, and they then vote on one to go to the blog at large.  Doug won *twice* recently, so here's the second one. I have to admit, HERE is something I never thought of before! But I don't know, does it sound controversial to you? ****************************** Does God Have Chromosomes? Dr. Ehrman has many posts discussing the technical difficulties of the two birth stories [...]

2024-06-29T13:18:20-04:00July 4th, 2024|Public Forum|

Did People Have Time for Jesus? – Guest Post from Platinum Member Doug Wadeson, MD.

There is nothing better than a guest blog post that flat-out disagrees with me!  And here we have one.  Is it plausible that Jesus could have had large crowds gathering together to hear his preaching in rural Galilee?  I say: Not really.   Platinum blog member Doug Wadeson says: Oh yes! As you may know, blog members on the Platinum Tier are allowed to write posts for other Platinum members.  (Nice perk!  If you're not a platinum member: take a look at it and see if you're interested.  Just click JOIN [even if you belong already] and scroll to Platinum Tier and see).  Every few weeks other Platinum members vote on which recent Platinum post should be posted on the blog at large.  Doug's won the prize.   Here's his post.  What do you think?   ****************************** On those few occasions when I have challenged something Dr. Ehrman has said he can usually shoot me down pretty quickly based on his range and depth of knowledge.  But I am going to try again. Dr. Ehrman has suggested [...]

2024-06-29T13:13:46-04:00July 3rd, 2024|Public Forum|

Platinum Webinar July 6

Platinum members, it's time for our quarterly Platinum webinar, where Bart and just Platinum members get together on Zoom. Because Bart is in a far time zone, we'll have to start early--1:00 PM EDT (check your time zone). This time, Bart's topic will be "How Can Historians Discuss the Miracles of the New Testament?" Of course, there will be time at the end for questions...be prepared! Zoom link: Platinum webinar July 6, 1:00 PM EDT But don't worry--we'll record the webinar and post for all Platinums to watch, so no problem if you can't participate live.

2024-07-02T15:16:22-04:00July 2nd, 2024|Public Forum|

May Gold Q&A Video

Here's May's Gold Q&A video--a little delayed because of Professor Ehrman's heavy summer travel schedule: https://vimeo.com/968002151/4f376bd297?share=copy  

2024-06-26T11:11:36-04:00June 26th, 2024|Public Forum|

The Arch-Heretic of Them All? Simon of Samaria — Guest Post From Dr. David Litwa

This now is the final guest post by David Litwa, one of the most prolific scholars of New Testament and Early Christianity over the past ten years.  David was a graduate student at Duke some years ago and took a couple of my PhD seminars over at UNC.  He is now at Boston College.  (See:  M. David Litwa - School of Theology and Ministry - Boston College (bc.edu) All of these posts are tantalizing introductions to (three different) books he has written for a general audience.  This one is about one of the most infamous figures from the early church.  But is his infamy deserved?  Let us know what you think! ****************************** With Simon of Samaria, we enter the maelstrom, a Charybdis of confused and cacophonous incriminations, slanderous stories, and inimical innuendo. It seems that the man Simon existed—as much as any other figure in recorded history—but he has long since been swallowed in the abyss of myth and countermyth. Anti-Simon stories and reports begin to appear in the early to mid-second century [...]

An Early Christian Advocate of Licentious Living? Carpocrates — Guest Post by Dr. David Litwa

Here now is a second post on a, well, rather unusual and widely unknown Christian group, by guest blogger David Litwa, one of the most prolific scholars of New Testament and Early Christianity over the past ten years.  David was a graduate student at Duke some years ago and took a couple of my PhD seminars over at UNC.  He is now at Boston College.  (See:  M. David Litwa - School of Theology and Ministry - Boston College (bc.edu) Each of these posts is a tantalizing introduction to a (different) book he has written for a general audience. In this one he deals with a group, and its leader, with a steamy but, he argues, completely undeserved bad reputation in early Christianity.  Let us know what you think! ****************************** Who was Carpocrates? Most early Christian writers depicted him as the founder of a licentious cult, a magician, and a practitioner of “pagan” rites. They said that his followers practiced indiscriminate sex at their communal dinners. Carpocrates, said his opponents, demanded that his followers engage in [...]

June Gold Q&A: Whaddya Wanna Know?

Gold and Platinum members, Time again for our monthly Gold Q&A. Is there something in the New Testament that puzzles you or doesn't make sense (imagine that!)? Put it in a (short, to-the-point) question and send it to Diane at  [email protected]. DEADLINE: Please get your question in by Thursday next week (06/24/2024) at midnight (whenever midnight is in your time zone).  

2024-04-09T14:39:53-04:00June 17th, 2024|Public Forum|

Platinums! Time to Upvote a Platinum Post!

It's time again for Platinum members to vote for a Platinum post to be published to the whole blog (exciting!). Here are links to the posts, in case you want to refresh your memory--then vote! Does God Have Chromosomes? by Doug Wadeson, MD Atonement Doctrine by Manuel Fiadeiro Did People Have Time for Jesus? by Doug Wadeson, MD Could Moses be Thutmose, the Overseer of the Borderlands? by Serene

2024-06-11T10:57:52-04:00June 17th, 2024|Public Forum|

A Bizarre “Gnostic” Religion: The Naassenes – Guest Post by Dr. David Litwa

I'm pleased to publish three posts by guest blogger David Litwa, one of the most prolific scholars of New Testament and Early Christianity over the past ten years.  David was a graduate student at Duke some years ago and took a couple of my PhD seminars over at UNC.  He is now at Boston College.  (See:  M. David Litwa - School of Theology and Ministry - Boston College (bc.edu) Each of these posts is a tantalizing introduction to a (different) book he has written for a general audience.  This one starts off with a blast!  Let us know what you think! ******************************   It is the only Christian group in antiquity to be accused of homosexual sex, of worshipping a snake, and of attending the mysteries of the Great Mother (Cybele). They worshiped God as Human, explored the Phrygian deity Attis as a manifestation of Jesus, and directly called themselves “gnostics.” They are known through a gossamer thread of tradition, a report preserved only in a worm-eaten medieval manuscript tucked away on Mount Athos, where no [...]

Is There Even Such a Thing as the “Original” Text of Philippians?

  What would it even *mean* to say that we have an "original" letter of Paul to the Philippians? In my previous two posts I began answering a series of questions asked by a reader about how we got Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  In my previous post I explained why some critical scholars maintain that the letter was originally two separate letters that have been spliced together.  That obviously makes the next question the reader asked a bit more complicated than one might otherwise imagine.  And it’s not the only complication.   Here is the reader’s next question: QUESTION:  Do you agree that the first copy of the letter written by Paul to the Philippians was also an original?  RESPONSE:  First off, my initial reaction that I gave a couple of posts ago still holds.  I’m not exactly sure what the reader is asking.  If he’s asking whether a copy of the original letter to Philippians is itself an original of Philippians, then the answer is no.  It is not the original.  It is a [...]

Is Paul’s Letter to the Philippians Actually Two Letters Cut and Spliced Together?

Could Paul's moving and powerful letter to the Philippians actually be *two* letters that were later cut and spliced together? In my previous post I answered, in short order, a series of questions that a reader had about the “original” text of Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  I will now take several posts in order to address some of the questions at greater length.  Here was the first one:   QUESTION:  Would you agree that the letter written to the Philippians was an original writing of Paul? The short answer is Yes – it is one of the undisputed Pauline letters.  The longer answer is, well, complicated.  Scholars have long adduced reasons for thinking that this letter of Paul was originally *two* letters (or parts of two letters) that were later spliced together into the one letter we have today.  I explain the reasons for thinking so in my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.  Here is what I say there.  (If you want to follow the argument particularly [...]

2024-06-05T15:54:36-04:00June 4th, 2024|Paul and His Letters, Reader’s Questions|

Do We Have the Original Text of Philippians?

  I have been discussing whether we have the "original" text of Paul's letters, and have argued that 2 Corinthians in fact is probably two and maybe (my view) as many as five letters spliced together.  It's not the only letter of Paul's that we may not have an "original" version of (assuming that the earlier letters that were cut and then spliced together are more original).  We have a similar problem with Philippians, long my favorite Pauline letter -- so much my favorite as a young person that I memorized it at age 18!  But since then I have seen there are some problems that it presents.  I addressed these long ago on the blog in response to a question. The question, as you'll see, is simply about whether Philippians was original to Paul.  But it got me off on to a range of issues all closely related, over a series of posts.  Here's the first, with the question. QUESTION(S):  Would you agree that the letter written to the Philippians was an original writing [...]

John the Baptist: The Most Influential Religious Innovator in History by James McGrath (Part 3)

Now we have the final installment of James McGrath's thread of posts on the importance of John the Baptist, which, as he argues, most people have overlooked.  What do you think?  Comment and ask away! ****************************** John the Baptist was probably the most significant religious innovator in the history of religion. We’ve failed to see this because of the extent that he has been overshadowed by his followers. This is perhaps the most important point made in my new books Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist (Eerdmans, June 2024) and John of History, Baptist of Faith: The Quest for the Historical Baptizer (the latter due out in October). In this three-part series I offer an overview of John’s influence based on and incorporating some material from Christmaker so that readers of this blog can get a sense of what awaits them in these books, especially the biography which will be out very soon and which is aimed at a general audience. Part 3: John as Innovator and Leader In recent centuries, we find new [...]

2024-05-27T15:09:35-04:00June 1st, 2024|Public Forum|

John the Baptist: The Most Influential Religious Innovator in History by James McGrath (Part 2)

Is John the Baptist THE most significant religious innovator in religion, ever?  Here James McGrath (  James F. McGrath - Wikipedia  ) continues with the second of his three controversial posts on John the Baptist: the first few sentence remind you of the basic claim and the books in which he develops it -- the rest expands his views for us.  What do you think? ****************************** John the Baptist was probably the most significant religious innovator in the history of religion. We’ve failed to see this because of the extent that he has been overshadowed by his followers. This is perhaps the most important point made in my new books Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist (Eerdmans, June 2024) and John of History, Baptist of Faith: The Quest for the Historical Baptizer (the latter due out in October). In this three-part series I offer an overview of John’s influence based on and incorporating some material from Christmaker so that readers of this blog can get a sense of what awaits them in these books, [...]

2024-05-27T14:58:07-04:00May 29th, 2024|Public Forum|

John the Baptist: The Most Influential Religious Innovator in History by James McGrath (Part 1)

I am pleased to publish a short series of posts on John the Baptist by James McGrath,  Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature at Butler University (see James F. McGrath - Wikipedia) based on his TWO new books (one coming out next month, June 2024; the other in October).    The books, as you will see, make some controversial claims -- see his first sentence below! James will be happy to respond to your comments and queries.  So what do you think? ****************************** John the Baptist was probably the most significant religious innovator in the history of religion. We’ve failed to see this because of the extent that he has been overshadowed by his followers. This is perhaps the most important point made in my new books Christmaker: A Life of John the Baptist (Eerdmans, June 2024) and John of History, Baptist of Faith: The Quest for the Historical Baptizer (the latter due out in October). In this three-part series I offer an overview of John’s influence based on [...]

2024-05-29T11:31:38-04:00May 28th, 2024|Public Forum|
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