A Virgin Birth? The Importance of Context

I continue to be writing up a storm, making just the progress I’ve wanted on my Bible Introduction. Gods willing, I will finish chapter 8 tomorrow, which is all of the chapters dealing with the Hebrew Bible. I was eager to finish this part of the book before the weekend, because on Monday I head overseas for the rest of the summer (Sarah and I spend a good chunk of every summer in London; she’s a Brit, and has been ...

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The Suffering Servant of Isaiah

I’ve been writing up a storm on my Bible Introduction. It’s a god awful amount of work, but I’m making really good (OK, disgustingly good) progress. Here’s a chunk I wrote up today, when dealing with the post-exilic prophets. It’s obviously (maybe too obviously for you!) just a rough draft.

Brief context: at this point I am discussing Second Isaiah (Isaiah 40-55), almost universally thought by scholars to be written by a different author from chapters 1-39 (themselves written ...

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The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men

Another tidbit from my Bible Introduction.  Old news for a lot of you, I know.  But it’s fun to write this kind of thing up for college students, who have never heard of such a thing!

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One of the most mysterious and even bizarre stories in Genesis happens right at the beginning of the flood narrative, where we are told that the “sons of God” looked down among the human “daughters,” saw that they were beautiful, and came down and had ...

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Creation in 4004 BCE?

In my Bible Intro, I am including a number of “boxes” that deal with issues that are somewhat tangental to the main discussion, but of related interest or importance. Here’s one of the ones in my chapter on Genesis, in connection with interpretations that want to take the book as science or history. For a lot of you, this will be old news. But then again, so is Genesis.

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In 1650 CE, an Irish archbishop and scholar, James Ussher, engaged in ...

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My Colleague’s Archaeological Find!

You have probably noticed that almost every time an archaeological find makes its way into the major newspapers (or even the minor ones) it is a “discovery” that is very iffy, dicey, dubious, questionable and, to make a long story short, generally rejected by the real experts in the field. That’s probably because real archaeologists are very careful, methodical, and, well, not all that interesting for the mass media. But they do the real work, and sometimes they come up ...

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The Hebrew Bible and Its Sources

QUESTION:

Do you have a suggestion for a book concerning the OT’s construction? I believe in the History of God (by K. Armstrong) she mentioned that there were about five distinct writers for the OT. Is this the scholarly view and do you have a book suggestion to delve deeper into it?

 

RESPONSE:

Right!  The Old Testament (for Christians; otherwise: the Jewish Scriptures, the Hebrew Bible; the Tanakh – these are all more or less synonyms.)

It’s been on my mind a lot lately.  ...

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Q & A with Ben Witherington: Part 7

CONTINUATION! Ben Witherington, a conservative evangelical Christian New Testament scholar, has asked me to respond to a number of questions about my book Did Jesus Exist, especially in light of criticism I have received for it (not, for the most part, from committed Christians!). His blog is widely read by conservative evangelicals, and he has agreed to post the questions and my answers without editing, to give his readers a sense of why I wrote the book, what ...

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Was Jesus an Essene?

QUESTION:

I was wondering how big of an influence you think the Essenes had on Jesus and his teachings, and if there’s any evidence that he and John The Baptist were students of that philosophy. Jesus’ apocalyptic teachings seem to align with them a lot.

RESPONSE:

Great question!  When the Dead Sea Scrolls (= DSS) were discovered in 1947, it was quickly realized that this was a library of documents produced by the Jewish group known from other ancient authors (such as Josephus ...

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