Physical Persecution and the Physical Resurrection of the Dead

In this post I’m thinking out loud rather than making a definitive statement.   A question occurred to me a week or so ago that, since I am on the road and rather unsettled just now, I have not had a chance to look into.  Maybe someone on the blog knows the answer.  Prior to the persecution of Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes in 167 BCE, do we have a record of *any* group of people in the entire Mediterranean world being ...

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Is There Evidence that Luke Originally Did Not Have the Story of Jesus Birth?

This is the second of three posts on the question of whether Bible translations should place the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel in brackets, or assign them to a footnote.  For background: read the post from yesterday!  Again this is a Blast from the Past, a post I made back in December 2012. .

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In my previous post, ostensibly on the genealogy of Luke, I pointed out that there are good reasons for thinking that the Gospel originally ...

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A New Blog Podcast!

There is a new feature of the blog (or rather: connected with the blog) that I hope you like. It is the brainchild of a blog member, John Mueller, who not only conceived of the idea but is doing every single bit of work for it.  It involves a weekly podcast in which John reads two posts that have previously appeared on the blog, some of recent vintage and some archived, often from long ago.  It is called the Bart ...

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The Origins of Heaven and Hell

Where did the idea of a “differentiated” afterlife come from?  I’m not overly fond of the word “differentiated,” since it’s not one we normally use.  But for the moment I can’t think of a better one for the phenomenon I’m thinking of.

An “undifferentiated” afterlife is one in which everyone has the same experience: there is no difference between one person and the next.  It doesn’t matter if the person lived a good life, was kind to strangers, was meek, humble, ...

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65

A New Attack on My Views

As someone on the blog has pointed out, there appears to be another “response book” written to critique what I have written about the New Testament.  I’ve included here, below, the Amazon description of the book.

Several things about it strike me as rather strange.   Most of all is that the author refuses to name himself/herself.   Why publish an anonymous book if you want to challenge a view that is open and in the public?  There is nothing mysterious about ...

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Threads and Comments on the Blog

This post will discuss several issues connected with the blog; hopefully that will be of some interest to anyone who pays good money to be on it.  If you are ever inclined to make a comment on any of the posts, or a comment on any of the comments, then please do read the bit at the end.

I think this is a good moment to pause a second and think about the blog.   I have spent the last two and ...

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Teaching Religion as an Agnostic

When I finally admitted to myself that I was an agnostic, I had already been teaching New Testament and the history of early Christianity for ten years or so, first at Rutgers in the mid 1980s and then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill starting in 1988.   It comes as a surprise to some people when I tell them that my decision to leave the Christian faith made absolutely no difference at all, of any kind, in ...

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Was There a “Moment” When I Left the Faith?

I sometimes get asked if there was a moment when I realized I simply did not believe in the Christian God and subscribe to the Christian faith any more.   What I have been trying to explain is that for me it was a long drawn out process.  It was not a matter of my being a fundamentalist, then finding a contradiction in the Bible and throwing up my hands in despair and saying “Oh no!  There *is* no God!!”

It didn’t ...

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Leaving the Faith

By the early to mid-1990s I had come to think that whatever I had held dear and cherished on the basis of my belief in the Christian God, could still be held dear and cherished without that belief.   Do I stand in awe before the unfathomable vastness and incredible majesty of the universe?  Do I welcome and feel heartfelt gratitude for moments of grace?  Do I value the love of family and the companionship of friends?  Do I appreciate the ...

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Growing into Unbelief

As I continued to go to church in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I found that I simply believed less and less of the Christian tradition in anything like a literal sense.

Was God the creator?  Well, maybe in some kind of ultimate sense, but not literally.   The universe was billions of years old, it came into being at the Big Bang, it has been expanding ever since, and the reaches of space – with its unfathomable numbers of galaxies ...

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