If We Did Have the “Original” Gospels, Would That Make Them True?

Have you ever noticed how people who are having an argument often use a slight of hand, either not realizing what they are doing or doing it in order to misdirect the discussion?  What I have in mind is when someone wants to prove a view that we will call X, but instead of directly dealing with the issues of central importance to X, they divert attention to something else that we can call Y.  Then, when they claim they ...

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Judas Iscariot? What’s an Iscariot??

I have argued that Judas Iscariot really existed as one of the disciples of Jesus.  Unlike the others, though, he is given a “last name” — Iscariot.  But what does the name mean?  It turns out, there is a huge debate over that.  Here is how I discuss the matter in my book The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.



The Name Judas Iscariot

Sometimes knowing the names of persons from antiquity can give further information about them.  People of ...

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Was Judas Iscariot “Made Up”?

My recent post on Judas Iscariot generated more interest than I expected, and a lot of readers wanted to hear more.   I’ve posted on Judas a number of times over the years, but maybe it’s a good time to give the full scoop.  If you want a lot more information, you might want to check out my book The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot.  That book was prompted by the discovery of the Gospel of Judas; I was not involved ...

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Did Judas Really Betray Jesus? Readers’ Mailbag

My post a few days ago about whether Paul knew that Jesus had been betrayed by Judas Iscariot — in which I concluded there really was no solid evidence one way or the other — generated several follow-up questions.  Many of them simply asked: well, did it really happen?   Here is an example, and my response.


I may be showing my ignorance here but could it be that Paul doesn’t know/write about Judas’ betrayal because it never happened? Yes, ...

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Did Some *One* Forge the Writings of “John”? Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

Here my colleague Hugo Mendez wraps up his discussion of the writings of “John” — the Gospel of John, 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John — and he does so with a BANG.  I hope you can see both the quality and significance of these conclusions.  This is very serious and persuasive scholarship put at a level that even non-scholars can understand, with huge implications for understanding four of the important writings of the New Testament but also for ...

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Was There One Author Behind the Four Johannine Writings? A Community? Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

We continue now with the third of Hugo Mendez’s guest posts on the “community” allegedly behind the Gospel of John, 1, 2, and 3 John.   Here he shows why most critical scholars do NOT think (as most other interested human beings on the planet do!) that all four were written by the same person (let alone Jesus’ disciple, John the Son of Zebedee), and why they have argued that instead they all come from like-minded authors from the same community.

But ...

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Were the Gospels Generally Written for “Communities” of Christians: Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

Here now is Hugo Mendez’s second post in his thread (started yesterday, if you haven’t seen it yet), challenging whether the writings of John all emerge from a specific “community,” as I argued in my previous thread.  In this post he points out how scholars have called into question whether the idea of “communities” is helpful at all for understanding the early Gospels.

Hugo will be happy to address your questions!  Just post yours as a comment to the post.


 Challenges to ...

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WAS there a Community behind the Gospel and Letters of John? Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

Here we begin a series of posts written by my colleague at UNC, Hugo Mendez.   Hugo has had an intriguing and impressive career.  He did an MA in Religion at University of Georgia, but then his PhD was in Linguistics, also at Georgia.  He went from there onto a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale and “retooled” to become a New Testament scholar through some, well, incredibly intense study.  He came to UNC as a postdoctoral fellow in 2016 for two ...

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More of the History Behind the Gospel of John

In the last post I began to discuss what we can know about the history of the community that produced (or that produced someone who produced) the Gospel of John.  My argument is that you can use hints in the Gospel to reconstruct what appears to have happened in the community in which and for which it was produced, and reconstructing what these events were can help make sense of how and why the distinctive views of the Gospel developed ...

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The History Behind John’s Gospel

In my previous post I explained that there are different (even divergent) understandings of Jesus in the Gospel of John.  I ended, the post by asking the following:  How does one explain these thematic differences among the stories of John?  Social historians would argue that the history of the community affected the ways that it told its stories about Jesus and that critical events in this history led to changes in the community’s understanding of Jesus and his relationship to ...

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