Paul’s Acquaintances: Jesus’ Disciples and Brother

I have pointed out that the information provided us by Paul shows that he, at least, understood Jesus to have been a real flesh-and-blood human being (even while acknowledging that he was also a divine being).  He really was born, was a Jew, had brothers, and so on.   The reason all this matters is that many Mythicists claim that Paul thought no such thing, that for him Christ was a cosmic being, not a human being, and that he had ...

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Paul and the Historical Jesus

In this thread I have been talking about what I discussed in my thirty-minute presentation at the Mythicist Milwaukee conference, in my debate with Robert Price.  After pointing out a couple of problems with typical Mythicist arguments I devoted the bulk of my time to laying out the positive evidence for my view that whatever else you might want to say about him, Jesus of Nazareth certainly existed as a real human being.  In my last post I stressed the ...

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Jesus and Paul on Heaven and Hell

A couple of days ago I indicated on the blog that I am thinking about devoting my next book to the “Invention of the Afterlife” – that is, to the question of where the Christian doctrines of heaven and hell came come.  I asked for comments (and I still welcome them) from people about what they would be interested in seeing in a book like that.  Many, many thanks to everyone who has (so far!) responded to my request!

As some ...

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Does James Contradict Paul?

              I have a number of questions that I want to address in my Readers’ Mailbag, but one particularly important one requires a rather long response, and so I dedicate this entire week’s mailbag to answering it.  Here it is:

 

QUESTION:

Bart, what is your view with regard to Paul and James teaching on the doctrine of justification by faith – are they contradictory?

 

RESPONSE:

Ah, this is a perennial question among readers of the New Testament.  I deal with it at some length ...

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How Did Ancient Writers Use Secretaries? A Blast from the Past

Here is the second of a series of three blasts from the past — from four years ago when I was dealing with how secretaries were and, especially, were not used in the ancient world by authors when producing their work.  Did authors (such as John for the book of Revelation, or Peter for either 1 or 2 Peter) use a secretary to write their books for them?  To answer the question with something other than common sense (that is, ...

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The Name of Saul/Paul and the Sources of the Pentateuch: Weekly Mailbag June 26, 2016

 

Why did Saul change his name to Paul?  And what were the sources lying being the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible?  Good questions!  I’ll deal with them here in the Weekly Reader’s Mailbag

 

QUESTION:

What is the meaning of “Paul” that Saul of Tarsus was moved to change to that name upon his conversion?

RESPONSE:

Ah, right – my students ask me this a lot in my New Testament class.  When we all grew up in Sunday School we ...

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Paul’s Converted Vision of Himself

To make sense of how Paul’s conversion affected his actual life, not just his theology, it is important to recall what I said about how it did affect his theology.  I repeat the key paragraph from yesterday’s post before drawing the further even more far-reaching conclusion.

To be members of God’s covenantal people, it is not necessary for gentiles to become Jews.  They do not need to be circumcised, observe the Sabbath, keep kosher, or any of the rest.  They need ...

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What Paul’s Conversion Meant

In my previous posts I talked about Paul’s life up to his conversion and the conversion experience itself.  Now, for two posts, I want to talk about what the conversion actually *meant* to Paul, particularly in terms of how it affected both his thinking and his life (which, for Paul, were very closely related to one another).  His thinking involved his theology and his subsequent life involved missionary work as the newly minted apostle of Jesus with a distinctive message.

It ...

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The Conversion of Paul

My book on the “Triumph of Christianity” will deal with how and why people converted to the Christian faith.   (As I think I’ve said, unlike some scholars I have no problem calling the earliest followers of Jesus who came to believe in his resurrection “Christian.”)   The best known and most important conversion was Paul.   Seeing how/why he converted is a key for understanding his own subsequent mission to convert gentiles to the faith.  Here is my current thinking on the ...

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How Paul Persecuted the Christians

I pointed out in the previous post that prior to his conversion Paul was a persecutor of the church, almost certainly because he objected to what their basic and fundamental message was, that Jesus was the messiah (despite the fact – or rather because of the fact – that he had been crucified).   But how exactly did Paul engage in his persecution.   He himself says that it was a violent persecution.  What could that mean?

We don’t know exactly how he ...

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