A Very Perplexing Question

As many of you know I am on sabbatical this year at the National Humanities.   This gives me a year off from teaching duties in order to focus on my research for my next book.   I am not working on a trade book for a general audience, but a scholarly monograph meant for academics in the field of Early Christian studies.   I’ve talked about the book before on the blog, but want to say a few more things about it ...

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Thanksgiving and the Blog

If you are like me, you stand amazed at the even-more-increasing commercialization of Christmas.  How could it get *more*?!?  But it is.  Remember the good old days when commercials hit the day after Thanksgiving?  Instead of, well, before Halloween?  Sigh….

I’m impressed and thankful, though, that Thanksgiving hasn’t gotten that crazy yet.  It’s a bit strange that it hasn’t, almost as if there’s a sacred aura about it that keeps it from being capitalized.  Unlike one of the holiest days in ...

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Old and Ongoing Criticisms!

I was browsing through old posts from the blog and came across this one from almost exactly six years ago, about criticisms people make of my work.   They still make the same wretched criticisms!   But here I try to answer two of the most common ones I hear, based on a perceptive (and non-antagonistic) question about them.   I think the same thing today, as I’m demonstrably older and allegedly wiser.


I want to ask your thoughts on something quickly because ...

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My Own Translation of the New Testament?

Here’s a question I get on occasion, which I addressed fully six years ago on the blog.


Do you have any plans to publish your own “best” version of the NT in English? From reading several of your books, it does seem as though you probably already have a translation sitting in a drawer somewhere. I have not been able to find scholarly reconstruction that was produced in the last three and a half decades. Most of the newer ...

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Studying the Bible as Theology and/or History


Here is an old question that I received that continues to be pressing — something I think and talk about all the time!


Would you please explain more on the differences between Biblical history and theology? Is it difficult as an historian to keep these separate in your personal beliefs?


I deal with this question in each of my three textbooks for undergraduates, since, for them, it is a confusing issue.  How can you study the Bible as a historian without ...

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How I Take Notes on What I Read for a Trade Book

Now that I have finished writing the draft of my book on the afterlife – which I’m tentatively titling “Heaven, Hell, and the Invention of the Afterlife  (that will be the title until my publisher changes it!!) – I have received several questions from blog members about aspects of the writing itself.  One reader wanted to know how I keep track of all the things that I read in preparation for writing a book like this (or like anything else).  ...

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Writing a Historical-Critical Textbook that Isn’t *Critical*

Now that I’ve finished the draft of my book on the afterlife, and am waiting for readers’ comments, I am turning to a revision of my textbook: The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.  It was first published in 1997 and this will be the seventh edition.

It’s hard writing a decent textbook (and not so hard to write a lousy one).   A constant struggle.  In breezing through blog posts of years gone by, I’ve seen that ...

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Peter: First Bishop (Pope) in Rome?

Today I move on to something else (I’ll get to the after life after more life).  Here’s an interesting question I received about Peter: the first bishop of Rome?



Is there any historical evidence that the apostle Peter was the first Bishop of Rome and that he was martyred upside down on a cross?



Ah, I get asked this one (or these two) on occasion.  I dealt with them both in my book Peter, Paul, and Mary Magdalene (which, by the way, ...

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Would the Disciples Die for A Lie? Proofs for the Resurrection.

Reminiscing about blogs of years gone by, I found this one from almost exactly six years ago.  And it’s still relevant for today.  The disciples all died for their belief that Jesus was raised from the dead, right?  So they must have *known* he was actually raised.  No one would die for a lie.  Right?   Here’s the question a blog member asked, and my response.  I still hold to it!





Another very very popular evidence put forward for the ...

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Did My Loss of Faith Affect my Scholarship?

I ran across this blog post from six years ago that I think is particularly interesting.  It’s a question about my personal religious views and my scholarship, and I’m interested to see that now, all these years later, I would pretty much answer it the same!    That’s heartening…

Here it is:


One question I received recently particularly struck me – as it caused me to think for a bit – was about how my loss ...

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