Readers’ Mailbag November 13, 2015

It is time for the weekly Readers’ Mailbag.  I am keeping a list of questions readers have asked, and I add to it all the time.  If you have a question you are eager to hear me answer in a couple of paragraphs or so, simply ask!  One convenient way to do so is simply to make a comment/question on this post.  Here are three questions for today.

 

QUESTIONThe Wikipedia entry on the gospel of the Nasorenes mentions your work ...

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How Do We Know What Jesus Said About Himself?

Yesterday I started my two-prong argument for why Jesus probably considered himself the messiah.  The first prong is that Jesus must have been called the messiah during his lifetime, or it makes no sense that he would be called messiah after his death – since even if there were Jews who believed that Jesus was raised from the dead after he was crucified (as indeed there were!  Otherwise we wouldn’t have Christianity), the resurrection of a dead person would never ...

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Jesus, the Messiah, and the Resurrection

I have been talking about the early Christian understandings of Jesus as the messiah – not just the messiah, but the “crucified messiah,” a concept that would have seemed not just unusual or bizarre to most Jewish ears in the first century, but absolutely mind-boggling and self-contradictory.  I’ve been arguing that it was precisely the contradictory nature of the claim that led almost all Jews to reject the Christian claims about Jesus.

Several readers have asked me whether I think Jesus ...

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Another Problem with Calling Jesus the Messiah

I have been arguing that most Jews rejected Christian claims about Jesus because Jesus was just the *opposite* of what the messiah was expected to be.  The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who would overthrow God’s enemies and set up a new kingdom on earth in which God’s will would prevail.  Jesus was and did none of that.  He was a lower-class peasant who was arrested, humiliated, tortured, and executed.  He didn’t destroy God’s enemies.  ...

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Jesus and the Messianic Prophecies

In my previous post I started to explain why, based on the testimony of Paul, it appears that most Jews (the vast majority) rejected the Christian claim that Jesus was the messiah.  I have to say, that among my Christian students today (most of them from the South, most of them from conservative Christian backgrounds), this continues to be a real puzzle.  They genuinely can’t figure it out.

In their view, the Old Testament makes a number of predictions about the ...

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The Crucified Messiah in 1 Corinthians

Historians usually have reasons for what they say; that is, when they make a historical claim, it is almost always based on a close reading of the surviving sources.  When it’s not, they’re just blowin’ smoke.  But if they’re blowin’ smoke – that is, taking a guess –they’ll usually tell you.   I suppose that’s one difference between an expert (in any field) and an amateur: the expert actually has a deep and nuanced reading of the sources that informs his/her ...

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41

The Jewish Messiah

In my previous post I began to discuss the understanding of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, in the Gospel of Mark (this is a thread within a thread within a thread – but it doesn’t matter.  Each of these posts makes sense on their own).  I am trying to show that Mark portrayed Jesus as the Son of God (meaning:  the one who was in a particularly close relationship with God who was chosen by God to ...

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I’m Openly Secular Documentary

On May 2-3, 2014, the Freedom from Religion Foundation held a conference in downtown Raleigh “Freedom From Religion in the Bible Belt.” I gave one of the main addresses at the conference, and there were lot of other interesting speakers.  In addition to the public talks, the organizers taped a number of interviews, that were then put together into a kind of documentary format, found here.   My comments are interspersed throughout, along with those of the other participants.

Other participants included:

  • Randy ...
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44

Jesus as the Son of God in Mark

I am set now to return to my thread on the changes in our surviving manuscripts of the New Testament that were made in order to make the text more amenable to the theological agenda of orthodox scribes and to help prevent their use by Christians who had alternative understandings of who Christ was.

I have been arguing, in that vein, that the voice at Jesus’ baptism in Luke’s Gospel originally said “You are my son, today I have begotten you” ...

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Reader’s Mailbag: 10/29/15

 

Many thanks to everyone who responded to my queries about how we could make the Blog better.  I received some very good ideas, and one in particular that I want to implement, starting with this post.  That involves a weekly Reader’s Mailbag. 

I get a lot of questions each week, and usually can only devote an occasional post to them.  Otherwise, all I can do is give a one-sentence or so response in my Comments.   But the idea that several ...

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