How “Jews” Became “Children of the Devil” in the New Testament

I have just started getting into the meat of the book proposal I have written for myself about The Battle for the Bible, on how it is that Christians claimed that the Hebrew Scriptures belonged to them rather than the Jews, and how this is what ultimately led to Christian opposition to Judaism and the Jews who practiced it.    As the argument unfolds, I hope it will make increasing sense!  Here’s the next bit, dealing with how the process began.

 

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Should the Old Testament Even Be in the Bible?

A week or so ago I started to describe how I’m thinking of one of my future books, that I’m tentatively calling The Battle for the Bible.  The book (if I write it) will be about how Christians got the Old Testament and saw the Old Testament as *their* book rather than the Jews’, who had misinterpreted it and given up (without their knowledge) any claim to it.  My argument is that this dispute is what ultimately led to the ...

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Is the Old Testament a Christian Book?

Yesterday I started describing a trade book that I’m thinking about writing, tentatively called (in my head) “The Battle for the Bible.”    Here is the next part of my self-reflections:

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A major part of my book will deal with one of the great puzzles in the history of religion:  Why does the Christian Bible even have an Old Testament?   And how did the early Christians, most of them gentiles, manage – in their own minds — to wrest it ...

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Why Do Christians Have an Old Testament? Another Trade Book.

This blog post is available to anyone in the universe, free of charge.  I provide five posts a week on the blog, but to have access to the others, you need to be a blog member.  Joining is easy and inexpensive.  I charge a fee in order to raise money for charity, giving every penny to help those who are poor, homeless, and in need.  So why not join and get full-access?  You’ll get lots for your money ...

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Interview for “Letters & Politics” on The Triumph of Christianity

Here is an interview I did on my book The Triumph of Christianity, back on December 25th, 2018, with host Mitch Jeserich.  The program was called “Letters & Politics,” for FM 94.1 KPFA. The theme of my book, as you know, is how the Christians took over the religions of the Roman Empire to become the dominant religion of the west.  Mitch wanted to know about that.  Many years ago, when I started thinking about my book, so ...

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Why Did Ancient Christian Forgers Commit Forgery?

Here is an intriguing question I received recently about the use of literary “forgery” in antiquity.  A “forgery,” in the technical sense I’m using it, refers to a very specific phenomenon: it is not simply making up a false story or perpetrating some other kind of falsehood.  It refers, specifically, to a book whose author falsely claims to be a (famous) person.   If I wrote a novel and claimed I was Stephen King, that would be a forgery.

Sometimes these books ...

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Constantine and the Christian Faith: My Fourth Smithsonian Lecture

I have found over the years that lots of people have mistaken ideas about Constantine the Great, the early fourth century Roman Emperor who converted to Christianity.  I used to have mistaken ideas myself, until I started reading the sources and examining the scholarship.   For example, Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the empire, right?  (Wrong.)  Constantine is the reason Christianity took over the empire, right?  (Wrong again).  Constantine didn’t really convert to Christianity: it was a political move ...

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Why Did Christianity Take Over the World? Smithsonian Lecture 3.

Here is Lecture 3 (out of 4) that I came at the Smithsonian Associates in Washington DC on Feb. 10, 2018, based, again, on my book The Triumph of Christianity.   This lecture deals with the key aspects of the early Christian movement to try to explain its success.  What was it about Christianity that allowed it to take over the entire Christian empire?   People have all sorts of “common sense” answers to the question — as did I for many ...

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Who Were The “Pagans” Christians Were Converting?

PART TWO of FOUR: Pagan Converts and the Power of God

This is the second lecture I gave at the Smithsonian on Feb. 10, 2018, based on my book The Triumph of Christianity: How A Forbidden Religion Swept the World.  The premise behind the lecture: as Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, it converted almost entirely pagans (after the first couple of decades).   Who were these people, and what were they converting *from*?  And why?

Paganism is not and was ...

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Christianity’s Most Important Convert: Lecture at the Smithsonian

PART ONE of FOUR: Christianity’s Most Important Convert: The Apostle Paul

In February 2018 I gave a series of four lectures for the Smithsonian Associates in Washington DC, based on my book The Triumph of Christianity.   It was a bit tricky, as these things always are, figuring out which parts of the book to focus on, since each lecture could really be only on one thing, not lots of things.  I decided to give the first lecture on the most important ...

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