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Jesus’ Teaching in Aramaic and the Books of the Canon: Mailbag February 24, 2017

There are two interesting questions in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: one about Jesus’ teaching in Aramaic and the other about which books did not make it into the New Testament.  If you have a question yourself, ask it as a comment and I will add it to the burgeoning list!

 

QUESTION:

Even though Christ taught in Aramaic, was there absolutely nothing written down in Aramaic? Is there much of a language translation problem going from Aramaic to Greek? (Again, it’s mind boggling ...

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Is the New Testament Authentic? Readers’ Mailbag December 4, 2016

QUESTION

Dr Ehrman, I found this attack against you:

Bart likes to deceive his listener by claiming more variations and more copies give birth to less authenticity. Actually flip that and you’ll begin to “see the light”.  The Bible manuscripts were transmitted not in a linear way, as in “Chinese whispers” but geometrically as in 1 produced by 5 others which in turn then produced, say 20, etc.

I think you already dealt with this claim, but I am unable to ...

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Newsweek Article on Christmas: Part 2

Yesterday I gave Part 1 of my Newsweek article on Christmas, published in 2012.  Here is Part 2!

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Most modern readers who are not already familiar with these stories [in the apocryphal Gospels such as the Proto-Gospel of James] tend to find them far-fetched.   That’s almost always the case with miraculous accounts that we have never heard before – they sound implausible and “obviously” made up, as legends and fabrications.   Rarely do we have the same reaction to familiar ...

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Newsweek Article on Christmas: Part 1

 

 

In my last post I made an off-the-cuff comment about an article about Christmas that I wrote for Newsweek four years ago (2012).   Someone asked for more information, and I see now that I never posted the article on the blog.  So I’ll post it here in two parts.  Here is the first half:

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This past September, Harvard University professor Karen King unveiled a newly discovered Gospel fragment that she entitled “The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.”  This wisp of a papyrus ...

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Jesus’ Private Teachings about the King of the Jews

In this thread I am discussing whether Jesus considered himself the messiah prior to his death.   So far I have made one major argument for that view, involving his death itself.  All of our sources report Jesus was executed by the Romans specifically for calling himself the King of the Jews.  They do not report that the Roman governor Pontius Pilate ordered him crucified for raising an army, or for causing a disturbance in the temple, or for being a ...

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Jesus’ Crucifixion as King of the Jews

One of the main reasons I think Jesus called himself the future messiah is that this best explains the best attested event of his entire life: his crucifixion by the Romans.

There are a few things we can say with virtual certainty about Jesus.  For example: he was a Jewish preacher from rural Galilee who made a fateful trip to Jerusalem and was crucified by the Roman governor Pontius Pilate.  There are, of course, lots of other things that we can ...

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The Apocalyptic Background to Jesus’ Messiahship

To make sense of my claim that Jesus himself told the disciples that he thought he was the messiah, I have to set his teachings generally in a wider context.  As I have repeatedly argued on the blog, Jesus’ teachings are best understood as apocalyptic in nature, and to understand any of them it is important to remember what the world view we call Jewish apocalypticism entailed.  This is essential background to the question I’m pursuing, since I will be ...

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Why Would Jesus’ Disciples Think He Was The Messiah?

The big question to emerge from my previous post is: If Jesus’ disciples (or at least some of them) believed he was the messiah before he died (as I tried to show they must have done) then what would have led them to think so?

I think there are two possibilities, one of which strikes me as implausible.  The implausible one, in my opinion, is that Jesus did things that the messiah was expected to do, and because of that, his ...

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Jesus the Messiah Before the Resurrection

In my recent posts I have argued, against the Mythicists, that the idea of someone (or lots of someones) inventing Jesus as a crucified messiah does not seem plausible, given the fact that no one expected a messiah to be crucified.  If you were to invent a messiah, it would not be one that was completely different (opposite, actually) to what anyone expected.

In response to these posts, several readers have asked why, then, Jesus’ own followers thought he could be ...

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The Invention of a Crucified Messiah

This is a follow-up to my recent post in which I argued, against the mythicists who maintain that Jesus was not a real person but was invented by his earliest followers who had learned of a cosmic Christ who was crucified by demons in outer space, that it does not make sense, in my judgment, that first century Jews would make up the idea of a human messiah who got crucified.   I received a number of responses to that post, ...

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