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Jesus’ Teaching in Aramaic and the Books of the Canon: Mailbag February 24, 2017

There are two interesting questions in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: one about Jesus’ teaching in Aramaic and the other about which books did not make it into the New Testament.  If you have a question yourself, ask it as a comment and I will add it to the burgeoning list!

 

QUESTION:

Even though Christ taught in Aramaic, was there absolutely nothing written down in Aramaic? Is there much of a language translation problem going from Aramaic to Greek? (Again, it’s mind boggling ...

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How Do We Know When the Gospels Were Written: A Mailbag Blast from the Past

I occasionally get asked how we know when the Gospels were written.  Why do scholars date them when they do?  I answered that question here on the blog over four years ago now.  Most of you weren’t on the blog then.  And if you were, and you’re like me, you’ll have no recollection at all about what was said four years ago!  So here is the post I made back in May 2012.

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QUESTION:

How are the dates that the ...

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My Work Habits the Letter allegedly by Jesus’ Own Brother: Mailbag 2/12/2017

I will be addressing two quite disparate questions in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: one about my work habits and one about the New Testament epistle of James: how do we know that the author expected his readers to think (or know) that he was actually the brother of Jesus himself?  If you have questions you’d like me to address in a future Mailbag, send them along!

 

QUESTION:

I notice you seem to get quite a bit done in a day (more than ...

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How Do We Know What “Most Scholars” Think?

I have received a particularly interesting question that has led to a bit of back and forth between me and a person on the blog.  This person pointed out that in my writings I often indicate that a view that I have (e.g., that the Gospel of John was not written by John the son of Zebedee; that the book of Ephesians was not really written by Paul even though the author claims to be Paul; or that the Gospels ...

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My Problem(s) With Fundamentalism: A Blast from the Past

What are fundamentalists, and why don’t I like them?  Here is a post I published almost exactly four years ago now.  My views have not changed!

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QUESTION:

You note that fundamentalism is dangerous and harmful. How do you define fundamentalism and why do you think it’s dangerous?

RESPONSE:

There are of course actual definitions of “fundamentalism” that you can find in scholarship on religion, but I sense that you’re asking more for a rough-and-ready description. Years ago I started defining fundamentalism as ...

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Did the Council of Nicaea Take Away Reincarnation and Give us the Bible?

In this Readers’ Mailbag I’ll deal with two questions that involve modern myths about the Council of Nicaea in the year 325.  Is it true that this is when the church fathers decided which books would be in the New Testament?  And that these authorities also removed all references to reincarnation from the Bible?   If you have a question you would like me to address in a future Mailbag, go ahead and ask!

 

QUESTION:  I’ve noticed many people have the misconception ...

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My Work for the New Revised Standard Version Committee

QUESTION:

If my memory serves me, you (as a graduate student?) were involved in the development of the NRSV Bible version in 1989. Could you describe your work please?

RESPONSE:

Yes, that’s right.  The New Revised Standard Version Committee was appointed by the U.S. National Council of Churches to produce a revision of the famous Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible, which had come out in 1952.  Since the time when the RSV had been produced (mainly in the 1940s), many important ...

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Is the New Testament Authentic? Readers’ Mailbag December 4, 2016

QUESTION

Dr Ehrman, I found this attack against you:

Bart likes to deceive his listener by claiming more variations and more copies give birth to less authenticity. Actually flip that and you’ll begin to “see the light”.  The Bible manuscripts were transmitted not in a linear way, as in “Chinese whispers” but geometrically as in 1 produced by 5 others which in turn then produced, say 20, etc.

I think you already dealt with this claim, but I am unable to ...

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What If the Mythicists Were Right: Mailbag November 6, 2016

QUESTION:

It must be difficult going into these types of debates knowing that if Robert Price is actually right, your entire career would be pointless and irrelevant. I certainly don’t believe this, but it must have crossed your mind before?

 

RESPONSE:

This question arose from the debate I had a couple of weeks ago with Robert Price, on whether Jesus existed.  Price argued, as you know, that there never was a historical man Jesus, but that the earliest “Christians” believed in a cosmic ...

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What Can We Do About Presuppositions?

QUESTION:

Would you mind expanding on the issue of presuppositions, either in an article or in the readers mail bag?  What are presuppositions? Why we all have them. And how do we make sure we have the right ones, or at least good ones. Having come out of Fundamentalist circles I heard so much about “presuppositions”, “worldviews”, “presuppositional apologetics” and so on.  Seems the argument goes “Well, we all have presuppositions. No one is free of them. Therefore it is just ...

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