Jesus as God in the Synoptics: A Blast From the Past

I sometimes get asked how my research in one book or another has led me to change my views about something important.  Here is a post from four years ago today, where I explain how I changed my mind about something rather significant in the Gospels.  Do Matthew, Mark, Luke consider Jesus to be God?  I always thought the answer was a decided no (unlike the Gospel of John).  In doing my research for my book How Jesus Became God, ...

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Scribes Who Injected the Idea of Atonement into Luke’s Gospel

One of the most striking theological features of the Gospel of Luke and its accompanying volume the book of Acts is that they do not portray Jesus’ death as a sacrifice for sins.  That seems very strange indeed to people who get their theology from other parts of the New Testament (e.g., Paul, and the other Gospels).  But when read on their own, Luke-Acts have a different understanding of the significance of Jesus death.

And that may be why scribes altered ...

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What Happened at the Last Supper? A Textual Problem in Luke

A couple of days ago a reader asked me a question in connection with something I had said about the early second-century Christian text, the Didache, and its instructions about how the Lord’s supper was supposed to be celebrated.  Here is what I said:

“When they celebrate the Eucharist they are first to bless the cup with a prayer that the author provides and then to bless the broken bread, with another set prayer (9:1–4). This way of celebrating the Lord’s ...

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Early Christology: How I Changed My Mind

It seems like every time I write a book, based on the research I do I change my mind about one thing or another that I’ve thought for a long time.  Some people (including some fellow scholars) think that’s a weakness or a problem.   I think of it as one of my charming personality traits.  🙂

OK, seriously, I think more scholars ought to be willing to change their minds — instead of being intransigent and thinking they are always right.  ...

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The Ironies of Jesus’ Trial

In yesterday’s post I mentioned that fact that John’s Gospel has a very different portrayal of Jesus’ trial before Pilate than any of the other Gospels.   It is longer, more involved, and highly intriguing.

Unlike the other Gospels, it is not a short trial where Jesus says only two words (in Mark, Pilate asks Jesus if he is the king of the Jews and Jesus replies: “You say so” – in Greek SU LEGEIS).  There are numerous back and forths, including, ...

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The Increasing Innocence of Pilate in the Death of Jesus

QUESTION:

How is it that all four gospels portray Pilate as recognizing the innocence of Jesus and being extremely reluctant to order his execution?

 

RESPONSE:

What is most intriguing (and enlightening) is that over time in the Christian tradition – both inside the New Testament and outside of it – Pilate becomes more and more innocent in the death of Jesus with the passing of time.   You can see this clearly simply by lining up the Gospels chronologically and seeing how they portray ...

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Why Discrepancies Matter for Interpretation

In the last post I pointed out that Mark and Luke have very (very!) different portrayals of Jesus going to his death.  In this post I want to explain why that ultimately matters for understanding each of the Gospels: without understanding this difference, you will misunderstand *both* Gospels.

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I have argued that the two portrayals of Jesus going to his death in Mark and Luke are radically different, and that recognizing this radical difference is of utmost importance for ...

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Why Differences and Discrepancies Matter Theologically/Religiously

On Wednesday I will be having a public debate with Mike Licona at Kennesaw State University on the topic: “Are the Gospels Historically Reliable.”  This is something I’ve thought long and hard about for my entire adult life, and so has he.  But we disagree, heartily.  It should be a lively and interesting debate.

Just now I was looking through the ancient history of the blog, and I ran across this post where I discuss the issue from a different perspective ...

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Small Differences that Make a Difference

Here is something different on the significance of textual variants for understanding the Greek New Testament.   Most of the hundreds of thousands of variations are completely insignificant in the big overall scheme of things (e.g., misspelled words and slips of the pen); others involve enormous differences that matter a lot (the story of the woman taken in adultery).  Lots of others are between the two, small differences that are interesting for how they might change the meaning of a passage ...

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The Virgin Birth and the Gospel of John: A Blast from the Past

As I’ve indicated on the Blog before, I tend to go to a Christmas Eve Midnight service with my wife Sarah (usually my one time in church during the year), and this year was no exception.  We were in Suffolk, England, in the town of Woodbridge, and attended the Anglican church there for a very nice service.  The Gospel reading was from John (1:1-14), a standard reading.  But I wondered whether anyone in the congregation realized that this passage in ...

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