Readers’ Mailbag 1/20/2019: The Only Story of Jesus as a Boy in the New Testament

Based on the feedback I’ve received on the blog this past week, I’ve decided to reinstate the weekly Readers’ Mailbag.   I have actually continued responding to questions since abandoning the feature of the blog, but in a less formal way.  Formalizing it seems like a popular option, and so I’ll try to do this once a week.   I start this week with an interesting question about Jesus as a boy.

 

QUESTION

Outside the birth narratives, the only canonical story about the young ...

Continue Reading →
30

Were There *Other* Virgin Births in Antiquity?

As happened four years ago when I made a series of posts on the virgin birth stories in the NT, this time too I’ve received queries about whether the idea of a virgin birth was a common motif in antiquity; some “popular” books out there claim that other alleged sons of God were born of virgins.  Is that true?  Well, I don’t think so.  Here is how I responded before.

 

**********************************************************************************

 

I have devoted several posts to the issue of ...

Continue Reading →
81

The Birth of Jesus in Matthew

Here I continue my seasonal reflections about the Christmas accounts in the New Testament.

Yesterday’s blog was about the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke; today I talk about Matthew. Even a casual reading shows that these are two very different accounts. Matthew has nothing about the birth of John the Baptist, the Annunciation, the census, the trip to Bethlehem, the shepherds, the presentation in the Temple. Matthew’s version, as a result, is much shorter. Most of his stories are found ...

Continue Reading →
83

The Birth of Jesus in Luke

As I indicated yesterday, I’m doing a series of posts leading up to Christmas, dealing with the accounts of Jesus’ birth in the New Testament.   Here’s a discussion of the one most familiar to people, found in the Gospel of Luke.

**********************************************************************************

As I’ve indicated, it is only Matthew and Luke that tell the tales of the infancy narrative, and the annual “Christmas Pageant” that so many of us grew up seeing is in fact a conflation of the two ...

Continue Reading →
113

What Can We Know about Jesus’ Birth?

Browsing through holiday-season blogs from previous eras, I came across my first small thread on Christmas from exactly six years ago.  I had forgotten about this.  Some of the material has shown up occasionally in the intervening years, but maybe it’s a good time to repost a bit of it.  Here is the first: an account of what we can, and cannot, know about Jesus’ birth.  Bethlehem?  Virgin?  Date?   Or even… year?

**************************************************************************

I have decided to ...

Continue Reading →
36

Did Jesus Write Anything in the New Testament?

I have mentioned two apocryphal letters forged in the name of Jesus himself, one written to a King Abgar and the other, well, dictated to the cherubim in heaven from the cross.  Several readers have asked me about New Testament examples, one in the famous story of the woman taken in adultery in John 8, and the other the seven letters allegedly dictated by Christ in Revelation 2-3.

As to the first, yes, as many of you already know, even though ...

Continue Reading →
74

Jesus and Hell

The second of my two boxes today from the new edition of my textbook.  This one of even more pressing importance: what did Jesus think of hell?

*************************************************************

Another Glimpse Into the Past

Box 15.8  Hell in the Teaching of Jesus

Jesus sometimes indicates that on the Day of Judgment sinners will be cast, unburied, into the most unholy, repulsive, God-forsaken place that anyone in Israel could imagine, the valley known as “Gehenna.” He says, for example that ...

Continue Reading →
32

The Value of Eyewitness Testimony

The first of today’s two-short-posts from new “Boxes” in my New Testament textbook, on a matter of vital importance to anyone interested in knowing about the historical Jesus.

**********************************************************************

What Do You Think?

Box 13.3  The Value of Eyewitness Testimony

 

If you want to know about something that happened in the past – whether in a criminal trial or just among your family and friends – you almost always prefer to learn what an eyewitness saw or heard.   ...

Continue Reading →
39

The Difference Between Eschatology and Apocalypticism

QUESTION

I have recently been reading John Meier’s books and he almost always calls Jesus (and John the Baptist), eschatological prophets (once stating Jesus having a “tinge of apocalypticism” or something to that effect). And you always refer to Jesus as an “apocalyptic prophet”.   Do you make any distinction  in the terms “eschatological” and “apocalyptic”?

 

RESPONSE

Ah, it’s a good question.  These terms are an endless source of confusion for people – even scholars sometimes.  I think the problem is that different scholars ...

Continue Reading →
54

Did Jesus Call Himself God?

I am posting two brief posts a day giving the short boxes I include in the new edition of my textbook, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings.   This particular one deals with a topic I’ve addressed several times on the blog, in view of my book How Jesus Became God.

******************************************************************************

What Do You Think?

Box 10.5  Did Jesus Call Himself God?

It is an interesting to ask: “What did Jesus say about ...

Continue Reading →
62
Page 3 of 39 12345...»