Jesus Rejected by His Own Townspeople in Mark

I want to show in some depth why I think the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 does not originally go back to Jesus himself, but is a story that Luke either came up with himself or inherited from the oral tradition.   Recall:  the rich man feasts sumptuously; Lazarus is impoverished and desperate for the crumbs from the man’s table.  They both die.  Lazarus is carried by the angels to “Abraham’s bosom” where he is in ...

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What Is the Original Text of the Gospels?

QUESTION:

When it comes to the gospels, how do we define the ‘original text’? Do we define it as the original manuscript that was first penned by the author, or do we define it as the gospels in their most settled canonical form?

 

RESPONSE:

As it turns out, this is a complicated and endlessly fascinating question that, so far as I have been able to work out over the past twenty years of thinking about it, has no clear and obvious answer!

By way ...

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Did Jesus Mean that Literally? Rewards and Punishments in the Afterlife

I return now to my thread dealing with the teachings about the afterlife in the New Testament.  One question that can naturally be asked is whether what is said about the afterlife in this, that, or the other passage is meant to be taken literally.    For example, I have discussed the famous passage of the “Sheep and the Goats” in Matthew 25, where the Son of Man at the end of history sits on his throne and divides the nations ...

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The Son of Man, Pericopes, and the Complexities of Biblical Scholarship

I realized anew this morning why it is so difficult for scholars of the NT (or the Hebrew Bible) to explain the results of their results of their research to non-scholars.  Well, one of the reasons.  As is true, I suppose, for most fields of serious intellectual inquiry, the *results* of scholarship are built on other results that are built on other results that are built on… and so it goes.   If the scholar explains his findings without explaining the ...

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Decent Burials for Crucified Victims: A Blast From the Past

My post a couple of weeks ago about the burial of Jesus (understandably) struck a nerve for some readers; I was just now digging around in the archives, and see that I addressed most of the important issues, head on, in this rather controversial post I made back in 2012.  All these years later, I’m still open to being convinced otherwise!!!

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In my previous post I quoted a number of ancient sources that indicated that part of the torture ...

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How Do We Know What Jesus Said or Did? The Criterion of Dissimilarity in Practice

The reason I’m explaining the criterion of dissimilarity is because I want to *use* it to talk about a passage in Matthew of relevance to the broader themes of this thread.  But before I use it I need to make sure everyone understands it.  In this post I show how it can be applied usefully; I being by restating the caveat about the criterion that I ended with yesterday (if you haven’t read that post, I’d suggest doing so before ...

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The Criterion of Dissimilarity

Over the past couple of class periods I have been introducing my undergraduate students to the problems that confront critical scholars who try to reconstruct what Jesus really said and did.  These problems are created by the nature of our materials – especially the New Testament Gospels – which is why I begin my course — which focuses on the historical approach to the New Testament — in something other than the chronological order of events or writings.  Irony!

But an ...

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Is This the Same Teacher? Jesus in John and the Synoptics.

I have been talking about the differences between John and the Synoptics, and have discussed the overall contents of John and its unusual take on Jesus’ deeds.  Nowhere is this more obvious than in Jesus’ teachings, whichy are very different here from what you find in the other three Gospels. Here is how I explain it in my New Testament textbook.

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John’s unique understanding of Jesus’ miracles is matched by his distinctive portrayal of Jesus’ teachings. In the Synoptic ...

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Jesus’ Miracles in John and the Synoptics

I’m trying to explain how John is so very different from the other three Gospels in its presentation of Jesus’ words and deeds.  As I have shown, John tells different stories from the others. More striking when it tells the same kinds of stories, there are stark and compelling differences.  Here is how I explain it in my New Testament textbook.

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The differences between John and the Synoptics are perhaps even more striking in stories that they have in ...

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Differences Between John and the Synoptics

In this sub-thread I’m trying to explain why I do not use the fourth Gospel extensively in trying to decide what Jesus actually taught (specifically about the afterlife, but about much of anything else as well).   One of the main issues involves the differences between John and the three Synoptic Gospels (all of them earlier than John), Matthew, Mark, and Luke.   Here I discuss one aspect of these differences: at the very fundamental level, John simply has Jesus say and ...

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