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Eternal Life and Damnation

In my summaries of the Apocalypse of Peter and the Apocalypse of Paul, as a couple of readers noticed, there was a striking difference in emphasis.  Both of these early Christian texts (the first from the second century, the other from the fourth or possibly the fifth?) narrate guided tours of the realms of the blessed and of the damned, and both seem more interested in describing the torments of the lost than the ecstasies of the saved.

The former focuses ...

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Another Gory Account of the Afterlife: The Apocalypse of Paul

Yesterday I discussed the first surviving Christian account of a tour of heaven and hell, an apocalypse allegedly, but not really, written by Jesus’ disciple Peter.   Here is one other, this time allegedly, but not really, written by the Apostle Paul.   I have taken this description from my book Forgery and Counterforgery (which I have revised a bit to get rid of some of the scholarly jargon).

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Far more influential on the history of Christian thought than the Apocalypse of ...

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Touring Hell: The Apocalypse of Peter

I am about ready now (I think!) to dig more deeply into a thread on the Invention of the Afterlife – the tentative title of the book that I *hope* will be my next one.  I’ve been putting off starting the thread in earnest because, in fact, I don’t feel particularly ready for it.  I’m just at the preliminary stage of my reading and have many dozens of books I need to work through before I can even think about ...

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Jesus the Superboy: A Blast From the Past

As is my wont, this time of year, I’ve been thinking about the stories of Jesus’ birth and early life for a few days now.  And just this instant I was looking at some old posts on the blog, from years ago — and this one turned up from 2013.  A matter of ongoing interest: if Jesus was the miracle working Son of God as an adult, what was he like as a kid?  We have stories about that from ...

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A Fantastic Saying of Jesus in Papias

I have mentioned one of the intriguing traditions found in the now-lost Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord by the early second century proto-orthodox church father Papias (his account of the death of Judas).  Here is another one.

In this one Papias is relating what he has heard that Jesus taught.  As you’ll see, it is not a teaching that is found in the New Testament Gospels, or in fact in any other Gospel source we have.

What is ...

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Other Accounts of the Death of Judas

As I indicated in the previous post, there are two versions of the death of Judas Iscariot in the New Testament.   These versions have some striking similarities, but at the end of the day, I think they cannot really be reconciled with one another.   After the New Testament period, there were legends about Judas’s death that continued to be invented and circulated.  I discuss one of them in my college-level textbook on the New Testament, in a side-bar that I ...

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Yale Shaffer Lectures 1 of 3 – Christ Come in the Flesh

Ten years ago now — October 12-14, 2004 — I delivered the Shaffer lectures at Yale University Divinity School. The central theme of the series was “Christ in the Early Christian Tradition: Texts Disputed and Apocryphal.” Among other things, I tried to show how early Christian groups tried to restrict readings of their sacred texts to suit their own purposes. This first lecture is entitled on “Christ Come in the Flesh.” (The video quality will not be ...

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How I Decided to Publish the Apocryphal Gospels

My previous two posts were meant to be a kind of lead-up to this one; this thread started by my talking about the times I have published both a scholarly work and a trade book for popular audiences on the same topic.   The third and most recent time had to do with an edition of the Apocryphal Gospels.  I’ve now given some of the backstory: I had done a translation project creating a new bi-lingual edition of the Apostolic Fathers ...

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The Gospel of Peter in a Papyrus Fragment?

Yesterday I gave a lecture at the Biblical Archeology Society FEST here in Baltimore. Even though I’m (obviously) not an archaeologist, a lot of my work is connected with archaeology, especially the discovery of ancient manuscripts. In 1886 archaeologists digging in Akhmim Egypt were working through a cemetery and uncovered a tomb, from about the 8th century, they thought, that had, along with a skeleton, a 66 page parchment book. The book was written in Greek, and had four texts ...

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Upcoming Lectures at the Smithsonian

Now that the government is back in business, the Smithsonian Associates has resumed its work; they sponsor lectures and lecture series in Washington D.C., every week, all the time, and I usually do a day long series of lectures for them once or twice a year, based on a book I have coming out.   I’m scheduled for the Spring 2014 in conjunction with my book How Jesus Became God.   But I’ll also be doing one this December for ...

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