Was My Weird Background a Help or a Hindrance: Mailbag October 22, 2017

In this week’s readers’ mailbag I deal with a personal question about my background and whether it gave me and advantages or disadvantages in my rather unusual line of work as a secular scholar of the Bible.

 

QUESTION: 

Just as a matter of empirical fact, do you think that your religious background gave you any (intellectual) advantages, or disadvantages, in your work over someone who lacked that background?

 

RESPONSE:

Every now and then I look back on my life and think:  Wow, now ...

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Decent Burials for Crucified Victims: A Blast From the Past

My post a couple of weeks ago about the burial of Jesus (understandably) struck a nerve for some readers; I was just now digging around in the archives, and see that I addressed most of the important issues, head on, in this rather controversial post I made back in 2012.  All these years later, I’m still open to being convinced otherwise!!!

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In my previous post I quoted a number of ancient sources that indicated that part of the torture ...

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Jesus, the Sheep, and the Goats

I have been talking about the criterion of dissimilarity for one ultimate reason: wanted to show why, in my opinion, a particular passage in Matthew’s Gospel goes back to the historical Jesus, the man himself.  I.e., it does not involve words put on his lips by later followers, but is something he himself actually said.  If you’re a little fuzzy on how the criterion of dissimilarity works, please read the preceding two posts.

The following has been taken from my undergraduate ...

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How Do We Know What Jesus Said or Did? The Criterion of Dissimilarity in Practice

The reason I’m explaining the criterion of dissimilarity is because I want to *use* it to talk about a passage in Matthew of relevance to the broader themes of this thread.  But before I use it I need to make sure everyone understands it.  In this post I show how it can be applied usefully; I being by restating the caveat about the criterion that I ended with yesterday (if you haven’t read that post, I’d suggest doing so before ...

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Are Jews and Christians Monotheists? Mailbag October 15, 2017

I will be dealing with an unusually important question in this week’s mailbag:  is it right to consider Judaism and Christianity monotheistic?

 

QUESTION:

Aren’t Judaism and Christianity really henotheistic rather than monotheistic? For example, even in the 10 Commandments it merely says YHWH is the only god to be worshiped, not that He is the only god. And in Christianity there is the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit, Satan, angels and demons, and in some sects, Mary the queen of heaven. ...

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How Old Was Jesus?

Almost everyone who thinks about the matter thinks that Jesus was 33 years old when he died.  But the New Testament never says so and I bet most people don’t know how that age is calculated.  Moreover, I bet even more people don’t know that there was an early Christian tradition (attested in the second century) that he was much older than that!

Yesterday I was reading one of the most important proto-orthodox authors of the second century, Irenaeus, whose five-volume ...

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Explaining Jesus’ Apocalyptic Assumptions

One other aspect of Jesus’ teaching is important to emphasize before continuing on to consider his understanding of the afterlife.  That is the thoroughly apocalyptic character of his views.

I have discussed Jewish apocalypticism a number of times on the blog—including some months ago on the current thread.  I don’t want to repeat all that here in the same form, but I do want to summarize what the view is and discuss its underlying assumptions.

In a small nutshell, apocalypticists believed that ...

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The Preaching of Jesus in a Nutshell

I am trying to set up what I want to say about Jesus’ view of the afterlife, and am finding that it requires a good bit of background information.  I have already done two things: shown what he taught about the coming kingdom and explained that his teaching (about the kingdom and everything else) is very different in John from the Synoptics.  Scholars are almost unanimous that given these differences, the older sources (the Synoptics and the accounts they built ...

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The Skeletal Remains of Yehohanan: Readers Mailbag October 8, 2017

 

I have received the following question

QUESTION:

One thing came to mind during the discussion of whether crucified persons were buried.  There is a case where an ossuary was found with a nail through the ankle bone.  [I think it was ankle, might have been wrist.]  Obviously this was an exceptional case; as I recall, there are some 900 bone boxes in Israeli museums and this is the only such case, where according to Josephus hundreds (thousands?) were crucified in ...

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Reasonable Doubts – How Jesus Became God

I have not posted any audio (or video!) appearances for a while.  Here’s one from a few years ago.   On July 25, 2014, I was interviewed by Jeremy Beahan and Justin Schieber  for their podcast called “Reasonable Doubts” on my book “How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee.”   The issue of the book is how Jesus, an apocalyptic prophet from Galilee, came to be regarded as a God by his followers.

Reasonable Doubts was a production ...

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