Why Are the Gospels Anonymous?

Looking through some old posts, I ran across this one (that I’d forgotten about) that answers a question I get at least a couple of times a year.   Why didn’t the authors of the Gospels name themselves?  (They have long been called Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, of course, but you’ll notice that the authors themselves never indicate who they are; the first record we have of anyone actually quoting these books *and* calling them Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John ...

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Did Jesus Pray “Father Forgive Them” from the Cross?

I recently received an important question about a highly significant textual variant in Luke 23:34, the one and only place in the NT where Jesus prays for those responsible for his death “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”  The verse is not found in the other Gospels, and interestingly, it is also not found in some of the important manuscripts even of Luke.  And so the question: is it a verse that some scribes inserted into Luke?  ...

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Pilate Released Barabbas. Really??

I received recently the following question, which deals with an issue I had long puzzled over.  It involves the episode in the Gospels where Pilate offers to release a prisoner to the crowds at Passover, hoping they will choose Jesus.  But instead they choose a Jewish insurrectionist and murderer, Barabbas.  Could that have happened?

Here’s the Question and my Response:

 

QUESTION:

Pilate condemns Jesus to execution for treason against Rome. Pilate gives the Jewish crowds the option of releasing Jesus or a Jewish ...

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Do Any Ancient Jewish Sources Mention Jesus? Weekly Mailbag

I recently received a succinct but very important question about whether Jesus is ever mentioned by any Jewish sources of the first century.

The premise behind the question is that if Jesus was the miracle-working son of God who was healing the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead – wouldn’t everyone be talking about him, all the time?  It turns out, the answer is – we don’t know!  We have hardly any Jewish writings from his time and place.

At ...

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Homosexuality in the Bible (and the Christian Church)

Here is a pressing question I was asked about a month ago, involving homosexuality and the Christian church.  Since the question was asked, as you know (if you follow the news!), the Methodist Church has made its decision.

I decided to ask a real expert to deal with the question, my friend Jeff Siker, PhD in New Testament who has just retired from a 30+ year career teaching biblical studies at Loyola Marymount, and who has edited two books that address ...

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Why Textual Criticism Seemed to Be on Death’s Door

 

In last week’s readers’ mailbag I started to answer a question that I never finished – in fact, I never got around to the question!  Here it is again.

QUESTION:

Is there a story (post) about your move from textual criticism to other things?

RESPONSE:

In my two-part (non-)response to this question I first explained that my training in graduate school actually was not in textual criticism, but was mainly in the interpretation of the New Testament and the history of earliest Christianity.  But ...

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Pursuing My Passion for Textual Criticism

Yesterday I started answering the question of how I moved on from doing research principally on New Testament textual criticism to do other things, mainly involving different aspects of the literature and history of Christianity in the first three centuries CE.   I pointed out there that my training/education was actually not in textual criticism, but mainly in the exegesis (and theology) of the New Testament, and on various aspects of the history of earliest Christianity (from the historical Jesus to ...

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On Being Just a Textual Critic

I’ve decided to address a question about my own academic life in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag.  It involves an issue that comes up a lot, but not in this form.

 

QUESTION:

Is there a story (post) about your move from textual criticism to other things?

 

RESPONSE:

I can’t remember if there is (though I’m sure someone will tell me!).  But I would like to say something about it, since it is an issue that seems to come up a good deal, not usually from ...

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Mark’s Central Focus on Jesus’ Death

I began answer the question of “What Is the Messianic Secret?” – a term used to describe that distinctive feature of Mark’s Gospel, that Jesus repeatedly tries to hush up anyone who starts to know or realize he is – first by explaining what the traditional views of the messiah were in ancient Judaism (anything *but* a person who would be publically humiliated and tortured to death by his enemies – just the opposite: he was to be a figure ...

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How No One Understands Jesus in Mark’s Gospel

In yesterday’s post I began to address the question: What is the Messianic Secret?  This is a term that scholars have applied for over a century to the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus repeatedly tells anyone who suspects his identity not to reveal it.  Why?   To make sense of this “Secret” of Jesus, it is important for us to have a fuller understanding of Mark’s portrayal of Jesus.

One of Mark’s major themes, quite apart from how one explains the apparent ...

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