Why Should Faith and the Afterlife Matter? Readers’ Mailbag April 15, 2018

I have a very long list of questions in my Readers’ Mailbag.  Here’s an interesting one that’s been hanging around for a while.

 

QUESTION:

One of the really odd things about Christianity is the emphasis on believing in order to gain admission to heaven. Why is that so critical?

 

RESPONSE

I would say that this one really odd thing is actually two really odd things: from the outset of the Christian movement, followers of Jesus emphasized both the centrality of belief and the realities ...

Continue Reading →
96

Who Invented the Idea of a Suffering Messiah?

For this week’s readers’ mailbag I give a very interesting and important question.

 

QUESTION:

Where did the idea of a Jewish messiah dying for the sins of mankind originate from? OT? Did Jews prior to Jesus’ existence believe this notion of the messiah dying for other’s sins?

 

RESPONSE:

I deal with this issue in a couple of my books.  Here is one of my fuller discussion from Did Jesus Exist?, where I talk about the issue in connection with the question of why Paul ...

Continue Reading →
97

How Were Books Published in the Ancient World?

In this week’s Readers’ Mailbag I deal with a question about how books – including the early Christian Gospels – were “published” in the ancient world.  How were they “made public” and distributed in a world that didn’t have printing presses and publishers and book stores?  Here’s the question and my response.

 

QUESTION

Bart, this is a related but separate question–how would Mark’s gospel first have been distributed? I understand that most who read it would be reading copies made by believers ...

Continue Reading →
46

The Golden Rule

After all the background I gave yesterday, I can now give a succinct answer to the question that was raised by a reader.  Here it is again.

 

QUESTION:

I was surprised to see that, in the Didache, the form of the Golden Rule is in the negative. I’ve read that the positive formulation in the Sermon on the Mount may be original to Jesus. If the Didache used Matthew as a source, how does one account for that reversion?

 

RESPONSE:

I think this question ...

Continue Reading →
27

Once More: The Interesting Text Called the Didache

QUESTION:

I was surprised to see that in the Didache the form of the Golden Rule is in the negative.  I’ve read that the positive formulation in the Sermon on the Mount may be original to Jesus.  If the Didache used Matthew as a source, how does one account for that reversion?

 

RESPONSE

I started writing up a simple answer to this question but then I realized that the answer doesn’t make much sense without some more extended background.  Just a few months ...

Continue Reading →
46

Do We Know How Paul Died?

In response to a question about what we know about the deaths of the apostles yesterday (short answer: almost nothing!) I talked about the hints about Peter’s death in the NT, and the later legend about it in the apocryphal Acts of Peter.  Today I can talk about what we know about the legends about the martyrdom of Paul, from the equally apocryphal Acts of Paul.  Here is what I say about it in my book Peter, Paul, and Mary ...

Continue Reading →
23

The Legend of Peter’s Martyrdom

QUESTION:

Can you do a post on what we know about the deaths of the Apostles from the early sources and include your opinions?

 

RESPONSE:

Many, MANY Christians have argued that Jesus must have been raised from the dead, because “all the apostles” died for their faith, and “no one would die for a lie.”  The latter of course, is not true, as people die for lies all the time (for example, in war); but that’s not really the point.   The point ...

Continue Reading →
45

Jesus Kissing Mary Magdalene: A Blast From the Past

Now for something *completely* different.  Here is a question that was asked and answered almost exactly four years ago, of ongoing intrigue!

******************************************************************

QUESTION:

I know that the “Gospel of Philip does not have much if any real historical veracity to it about Jesus’ life, but does the references about Jesus and Mary Magdalene being lovers and the holes in the papyrus ‘kissing’ verse (verses 32 and 55 in your “Lost Scriptures” book), help support the view that this ...

Continue Reading →
20

What Is My Best Book for a General Audience?

I recently received this question for the Mailbag, dealing, roughly, with my own personal feelings about my “best” work.

 

QUESTION:

A mailbag question that I am not sure I have read your thoughts on; what do you feel is your best published work for lay people and why?  Just curious!

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, this is a difficult question to answer.   The books you write are kind of like your children: you love each and every one of them with every ounce of your being!  And ...

Continue Reading →
41

Pontius Pilate: A Sensitive Guy….

QUESTION:

Could Pilate have conceded over burial rights also? Granted this may not extend to those accused of treason, but as Pilate did permit some local customs, does this not open up sufficient space for Josephus’ claim over burial rights to be taken seriously?

 

RESPONSE:

This question arose a couple of weeks ago after I had returned briefly to an older conversation about whether Jesus would have been buried on the afternoon he was crucified.  I tried to show ...

Continue Reading →
39
Page 1 of 39 12345...»