Did Superior Health Care Lead to the Dominance of Christianity?

Interesting question from a recent member of the blog:

 

QUESTION:

In the August 5/12 New Yorker, a review of a new book, “The mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator.” In this review, this sentence: “In the third century, malaria epidemics helped drive people to a small, much persecuted faith that emphasized healing and care of the sick, propelling Christianity into a world-altering religion.” I realize that medical history is not your thing. If nonetheless you’d care to comment, any warrant ...

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44

On Producing a New Translation of Ancient Texts

I’m in the middle of discussing what it’s like to publish a trade book for general audiences and an  academic book for scholars on the same topic.  The third time I did this involved a completely different situation from the other two I have described.   One thing that was similar was that in this instance, yet again,I had no idea, initially, of producing a popular version, but planned simply to publish a work of scholarship.  Only later did I realize ...

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6

Learning New Things

I am constantly awed by some fellow scholars,who have not just enormous range of knowledge about so many things but also an inordinate, almost insatiable curiosity.   There aren’t many people like that, but I know some.   At the same time I am regularly puzzled by people who simply have no curiosity about much of anything, who have strong opinions about lots and actual knowledge about little, who just don’t have any real curiosity or drive to find answers to anything.

I’m ...

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45

Who Is The Enemy?

This will be a very personal post, about being an enemy of the Christian faith.

I’ve long been amazed, surprised, and perplexed about how, when it comes to religion, comments made in one context are completely non-problematic but when the (exact) same comments are made in another context, they are heinous and threatening.   Some of it almost certainly has to do with tone and general attitude.  But I wonder if it isn’t actually much broader than that.

One of the ways I’ve ...

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89

My Current Research Projects, 7/2019

I often get asked what I’m doing in my personal research – both long term and, well, what is it I actually do during the day?   It’s all related to the blog, so I thought I’d devote a single post to it, just a kind of overview of the kinds of things I’m working on.  Right now, as it turns out, it’s a wide range.

Tomorrow I’m off to Marburg Germany (I’ve been in London for most of the summer, so ...

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61

Could Most People Write in Antiquity?

I am ready now to discuss in a couple of posts the issue of whether Jesus’ brother James actually wrote the book of James, or if it was someone else wanting his readers to *think* it was him.   To make sense of what I want to say about it at the outset (it will take a couple of posts), I’ve decided I need to re-post an old post on a broader and even more interesting question: who actually *could* write ...

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89

Is History a Four-Letter Word?

Most people on the planet simply are not interested in history.   I’d say that’s true of most American high school and college students.  History classes can be dreadfully boring, especially with the wrong teacher — and it is very hard to be a good teacher of history.  In high school, I had almost no interest in my history classes.  Names, dates, things that happened that had no relevance to anything I was interested in or what I felt like doing ...

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87

Changing Your Mind. Or Not.

Two things have happened to me this week that have made me think rather intensely about the path I’ve taken in life, and how radically it has swerved from the paths of others who were like me at the age of 20.   I emphasize “who were like me.”   The reality is that the path I was on already at 20 was (now I see) extremely weird, and to outsiders looks more than a little bizarre.   I was a hard-core evangelical ...

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142

Why Was the World Created in 4004 BC?

We appear to be living in an age where science no longer matters.  As you may know, the English word “science” comes from the Latin term “scientia,” which means “knowledge.:  People who reject “science,” well, what is it they’re rejecting?   We live in dangerous times.

Apart from the more obvious examples of this rejection that you can find in the newspaper every day (involving a human-induced apocalypse of biblical proportions), there are still, of course, a large number of “creationists” out ...

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59

Flat-out Lies or Willful Ignorance. How Do They Get Away With It?

Sometimes it’s enough to make my blood boil.  Maybe someone can explain it to me.

If you were to interview the 7,346,235,000 occupants of this planet, you would find *no* group of people who declare themselves MORE committed to “truth” than the evangelical Christians.  Evangelical Christianity, historically, is about nothing other than the Truth.   Jesus himself said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life, no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6); and “You shall know ...

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