The First Apocalypse: The Book of Daniel

I have been arguing that to understand the radically new view of the afterlife that emerged in ancient Judea in the horrible years leading up to the Maccabean revolt, it is important to know something about a new genre or literature that began to be produced at the time, the apocalypse.  The first surviving writing of this kind is in the book of Daniel.  Here is what I say about Daniel as an apocalypse in my book The Bible: A ...

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A New Attack on My Views

As someone on the blog has pointed out, there appears to be another “response book” written to critique what I have written about the New Testament.  I’ve included here, below, the Amazon description of the book.

Several things about it strike me as rather strange.   Most of all is that the author refuses to name himself/herself.   Why publish an anonymous book if you want to challenge a view that is open and in the public?  There is nothing mysterious about ...

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A New Genre in Jewish Antiquity: The Apocalypse

I am in midst of starting to explain how a new view of the afterlife came into existence in Jewish circles right around the time of the Maccabean revolt, and to that end I have devoted one post to a brief narrative of what happened leading up to the revolt and a second post to two of our principal sources of information about it, 1 and 2 Maccabees.

Now, I need to provide yet more background: it was at this time, ...

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The Books of 1 and 2 Maccabees

In yesterday’s post I discussed the Maccabean revolt, and in today’s I need to summarize our principal sources of information about the revolt, the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees.  My reason for doing so has to do with my topic of the afterlife.  It is in 2 Maccabees that we find a very different view from what can be seen in the Hebrew Bible itself, as I will show in a subsequent post, a view that became popular later ...

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Background to The Christian Afterlife: The Maccabean Revolt: A Blast from the (Recent) Past!

Back in April I was in the middle of a thread about the afterlife, and now, after this unusual hiatus, I am able and eager to return to it.  For those of you who were with us at the time, you may remember that this is the topic of the book I am working on now, that I have been reading massively about for most of the past year.  My views have developed, changed, and deepened since April.  I’ve had ...

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Lecture at Washington & Jefferson College

On March 9, 2017, I gave a lecture at Washington & Jefferson College in Washington PA, called “Who Wrote the Bible? The Surprising Claims of Modern Scholars.”  This was part of a kind of lecture tour that I did for the nation’s oldest honor society, Phi Beta Kappa.  The society’ has a “Visiting Scholar Program”: a dozen or so scholars are chosen each year to visit college and university campuses to meet with Phi Beta Kappa members, teaching some classes, ...

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Threads and Comments on the Blog

This post will discuss several issues connected with the blog; hopefully that will be of some interest to anyone who pays good money to be on it.  If you are ever inclined to make a comment on any of the posts, or a comment on any of the comments, then please do read the bit at the end.

I think this is a good moment to pause a second and think about the blog.   I have spent the last two and ...

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Teaching Religion as an Agnostic

When I finally admitted to myself that I was an agnostic, I had already been teaching New Testament and the history of early Christianity for ten years or so, first at Rutgers in the mid 1980s and then at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill starting in 1988.   It comes as a surprise to some people when I tell them that my decision to leave the Christian faith made absolutely no difference at all, of any kind, in ...

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Was There a “Moment” When I Left the Faith?

I sometimes get asked if there was a moment when I realized I simply did not believe in the Christian God and subscribe to the Christian faith any more.   What I have been trying to explain is that for me it was a long drawn out process.  It was not a matter of my being a fundamentalist, then finding a contradiction in the Bible and throwing up my hands in despair and saying “Oh no!  There *is* no God!!”

It didn’t ...

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Leaving the Faith

By the early to mid-1990s I had come to think that whatever I had held dear and cherished on the basis of my belief in the Christian God, could still be held dear and cherished without that belief.   Do I stand in awe before the unfathomable vastness and incredible majesty of the universe?  Do I welcome and feel heartfelt gratitude for moments of grace?  Do I value the love of family and the companionship of friends?  Do I appreciate the ...

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