An Official Copy of Jesus’ Death Sentence: Another Forgery?

I have been intermittently posting accounts of modern forgeries of Gospels that provide, as a rule, sensationalized information about the “lost” records of Jesus – for example an account claiming he traveled to India as a young man to learn his wisdom from the Brahmins, or another purportedly based on an eyewitness to the crucifixion.

Here now is yet another, this one an allegedly official copy of the death sentence from his trial, written by Pontius Pilate himself, in Hebrew no ...

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An Eyewitness to the Crucifixion? Another Modern Forgery

I’ve started to discuss several modern forgeries connected with the life of Jesus.   These are all completely bogus, but they’ve nonetheless fooled a lot of people.  I get emails from people maybe once a month who want to ask me about something they’ve “heard” about Jesus, and it usually turns out that it comes ultimately from one of these things, which someone has read, and then told someone else, who told someone else, who took it as Gospel truth.

The Essenes ...

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Did Jesus Go to India? A Modern Gospel Forgery.

Last week I mentioned in passing the little-known fact that the apocryphal idea that Jesus travelled to India as a child to learn from the Brahmins, comes to us not from ancient forgeries but relatively modern ones.   That raised some interest among readers, and I realized that I haven’t actually dealt with this intriguing issue on the blog before.  But I did deal with it in one of my books on forgery, the one written for a general audience, Forged: ...

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Wine Flowing in the Kingdom: Guest Post on Papias by Stephen Carlson

Here is yet another guest post by Stephen Carlson on the intriguing but puzzling quotations from Papias, the elusive second century church father who wrote a five-volume book called “Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.”   What was this book, and does it give us any information from outside the Gospels – from an extremely early source – about the sayings of Jesus?

In this post Stephen addresses one of the most, well, unusual passages known to be from Papias’s work.  ...

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Paul in Hell. The Apocryphal Apocalypse of Paul.

You may have not noticed, since so much else has been happening on the blog lately (guest posts, a debate, etc.), but I have a very loose thread  going on my book on the guided tours of heaven and hell, a scholarly monograph that deals with the Christian versions of “katabasis” (the technical term for “going down” — that is, someone going down into the underworld and then reporting what he saw) in relation to Greek, Roman, and Jewish versions.  ...

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The Aberrant View of the Afterlife in the Apocalypse of Peter

As we have seen on the blog before, when church leaders were deciding which books should be counted among the Christian Scriptures, to go along with the “Old Testament,” they used a range of criteria:   a book had to be written by an apostle or at least by an active companion of an apostle; it had to be widely used throughout the early Christianity communities; and it had to convey teachings that were widely accepted (by the “right” thinkers) as ...

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Finally. Why Did the Apocalypse of Peter Not Make It Into the Canon?

 

Sometimes in my courses on the New Testament my students have trouble understanding why I’m so interested (OK, obsessed) with the small details of the text, rather than the “big picture.”  Who cares if this or that little detail is a possible contradiction or problem for other reason?  What matters is the overall message, right?

Yes, that’s right on one level.  But on another level (or two or three) the small details really matter.  Not only is the big picture made ...

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Other Manuscripts of the Apocalypse of Peter, And Why It Matters

In my last post about the Apocalypse of Peter I got down in the weeds a bit to talk about the discoveries and character of the two main manuscript sources of evidence we have of the document, a Greek version discovered in 1886-87 (the manuscript was produced in the sixth century or so) and an Ethiopic translation, found in a writing numbered among the so-called Pseudo-Clementines, and published in 1907-10.  Expert linguists have shown that this Ethiopic translation was made ...

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How Do We Know What Was Originally in the Apocalypse of Peter?

It was a long time ago that I started a thread dealing with the question of why the Apocalypse of Peter did not make it into the New Testament but 2 Peter did.  I’ll give a summary here of where we are in the discussion just now, but if you want the full play-by-play, use the search function to look up Apocalypse of Peter; I’ve been blogging on it, on and off, since November 11.  And it’s time finally to ...

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Was the Apocalypse of Peter Originally Part of the New Testament?

The Apocalypse of Peter was a reasonably popular book in some Christian churches of the first three or four Christian centuries.  It was not as massively influential as the four Gospels or the writings of Paul, but even so, a number of Christian individuals and churches saw it as a Scriptural text, written by Peter.

The book is first mentioned in the Muratorian Fragment, a late second century text written from Rome, which discusses the books that, in the anonymous author’s ...

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