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.

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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.   ...

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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 ...

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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.

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What Do You Think?

Box 10.5  Did Jesus Call Himself God?

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

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If Jesus Wasn’t Really Raised from the Dead, What Happened?

I’m celebrating my birthday today, a sparkling young 63.  No cards or happy wishes necessary.  Just send cash.   But it occurred to me to look through old posts done on my birthday, and there was this interesting one from six years ago, on a very hot topic indeed!   Very provocative.   So here you are — be provoked on my happy day!

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One of the first books that I have re-read in thinking about how it is the man Jesus ...

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136

Did Jesus Believe Sinners Would Be Annihilated? The Sheep and the Goats

The most difficult passage that I will need to deal with in my discussion of Jesus’ view of the afterlife is the famous teaching about the last judgment of the “Sheep and the Goats,” found only in the Gospel of Matthew, there are reasons for thinking it is something Jesus actually said.   Doesn’t it teach eternal torment for the wicked, instead of annihilation?  I’ve concluded that the answer is no.  See if you find my reasoning persuasive.

The passage comes at ...

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109

Gehenna: Where You Do Not Want to Go

This is the second of my two posts on Gehenna.  My ultimate point in this discussion is that when Jesus talked about people ending up there, he did not mean they would roast forever in the first of hell, but that they would end up very badly indeed because (a) they would not receive burial and (b) even worse, their corpses would be thrown into the most hideous literally-god-forsaken place a Jew could imagine.

The earliest evidence from outside the Hebrew ...

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74

Jesus on Gehenna

I will give three more posts on what I take to be Jesus’ understanding of the afterlife.  The first two have to do with his understanding of Gehenna.    What I have to say about it is too much for a single post.  So here’s the first of the two.

Again, feedback is welcome.

Often Jesus expresses the image of “destruction” in highly repugnant terms, indicating that sinners who are excluded from God’s kingdom will not only killed but will be refused decent ...

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Looking for Feedback on My Views about Jesus and the Afterlife

I am now editing my book on the afterlife, and there are a few controversial theses in it.  One of them involves the views of Jesus.   I’d like to know what you think of my argument, and to see if you find it convincing or not.  If not, I’d like to know why.   Here is a rough idea of what I’m planning to say (until you instruct  me otherwise!)

First, Jesus did not think the coming kingdom of God (soon to ...

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135

Jesus’ Twin Brother, Thomas

I have mentioned in passing that there were some early Christians who thought that one of Jesus’ brothers, Jude (or Judas: both are translations of the same Greek word), was actually a twin.  Not just of anyone, but of Jesus himself.  Some readers have expressed surprise in the most succinct way possible, by asking: “Huh??”

I talk about the matter in a couple of my previous publications, especially when speaking about early Christian apocryphal texts that deal with the missionary exploits ...

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Was Jesus Thought To Be a Miracle Worker in His Own Lifetime?

This is the final, and most important, of my posts on the miracles of Jesus.  In it I raise the question – without being able to come to an absolutely definitive answer – of whether Jesus was thought to be a miracle worker already in his life time or if, instead, miracles came to be ascribed to him only later by followers who believed he had been raised from the dead.  I incline toward the latter view.

To set the stage ...

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