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Discussion Forum (Please read to the end)


I am happy to say that the membership forum – where people can interact with each others’ ideas, thoughts, claims, arguments, and perspectives directly, without any interference from me – is going very well.   We started off slowing, with just a couple of people posting questions, comments, and responses.  It slowly has been building.  And it is getting to be more and more every day.  I want to encourage you to consider contributing – and to tell others about it as a way to increase membership on the blog.

(As you know, blog membership is, for me, what this entire enterprise is about, because I do the blog as a way of raising money for charity.  As far as I’m concerned, the more money raised, the better we’re doing.   Please encourage friends, colleagues, family members, neighbors, and others to join!)

It is very easy to participate in the Forum.   Simply click the tab from the homepage that says, yes, “Membership Forum.”  And go from there.

To this point the posts and responses have followed the rules for the forum.   People have for the most part been on target, kept their comments/posts/responses reasonably short – brief enough that others will want to read them (anything over 500 words is dubious; 50-200 words is probably ideal), and there have not been instances of flat out rudeness or mean-spiritedness.  Yet!

Please remember that I approve every post (or response, or anything else) before it appears.  I try to do this (at this stage, while it is still possible) several times a day.  (If we start getting hundreds of posts, I have no clue what I’ll do.   But for now…)    If anything looks to me to be out of character with what we are trying to achieve on the forum, I will not allow it to post.   “Out of character” means this:  the forum is for a free exchange of ideas about the history of Christianity in antiquity (including the historical Jesus and the NT – but covering anything for the first three hundred years or so), along with cognate areas (such as Hebrew Bible); the posts are expected to be well-thought out and respectful of others.  Let me stress the latter point: respectful of others!

It is best not to post simply questions such as “Oh yeah??  Says who????”  Instead, provide substantive responses, with actual information, or well-thought out responses.  And it is never appropriate to be abusive.

Some members of the forum have requested that a feature be added to make it possible to prevent them from having to read posts from someone (or someones) whose opinions they no longer want to hear.  This seemed like a completely reasonable request to me.   Steven Ray, my computer assistant and all-things-fix-it guy, has devised a way to make this happen.   Here’s how he describes it in the “Technical Support” tab on the forum:

Due to membership request, a feature has been added to the forum to either follow the posts of those members you desire to follow, or hide the posts of those who annoy you with irreverent or preposterous content.

Here is how you do it:

When you are logged in, click on the button “Profile” on the top right. There is a tab on the top right called “Buddies and Adversaries.” Then click on the left button “Manage Adversaries.”

Enter the users name(s) you wish to ignore. You will not see their posts nor be open to receive private messages.

Many thanks to everyone who is making the forum a success.  If anyone has any questions or comments about it, please contact me and/or support(at)ehrmanblog(dot)org.

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  1. David
    David  November 6, 2014

    Bart, I’ve gone to the forum several times but cannot access any posts. Doesn’t matter what I click on, nothing happens. Am I missing something?

    • Bart
      Bart  November 6, 2014

      I’m not sure! I’ll ask Steven.

      • David
        David  November 6, 2014

        I tried again, but no luck. Maybe I should describe how I get there. At the top of this page is a link “Member Forum.” I click that and it takes me to the forum page. It says I’m logged in as David, which is correct. The subjects and their links are all there, but when I click on one (or any of them), there is just a brief “flash” but nothing opens. I can see the content of the most recent posts by hovering my mouse over the link, but I cannot access the discussion itself. Is there some kind of additional login or registration that I’ve missed?

    • Bethany
      Bethany  November 6, 2014

      Whenever that happens to me it means that (despite my telling it to keep me logged in) the site has logged me out. Now, obviously you’re logged in now because you’re posting, but I thought I’d throw it out there because it’s easier to miss: when you can’t read posts HERE it tells you it’s because you’re not logged in, but on the forum it just refuses to show you the posts and you have to figure it out for yourself.

  2. Avatar
    Xeronimo74  November 6, 2014

    If the forum starts getting really active then you’ll have to find (volunteer) moderators to help you! It will be impossible for you to moderate each and every post …

    Also, I don’t think that moderating each and every post is a good or effective idea. Why not let discussions flourish and intervene/censure only if necessary?

    You’ve still got plenty of time to figure these things out though, I guess, since it’s a members-only forum. Thus the number of posters will probably not explode?

    I’m wondering though if it being a members-only forum will not prevent from ‘the other side’ to turn up in the forum? Whether that’s good or bad it’s yet another question …

    • Avatar
      gavriel  November 7, 2014

      I join in here, remove prior moderation, but supply the forum posts with a handy “report abuse”-button. That way you need to take action only if other blog members find something abusive.

      I have some experience in web forum debating and repeat my earlier advice: There will always be some hopeless participants making tons of pointless posts. They love to operate just a few millimeters inside the rules and enjoy spoiling the fun for serious participants. Never answer them.

  3. Avatar
    Steefen  November 6, 2014

    Bethany: “to paraphrase Dr. Ehrman, you’d think that Jesus’ brother would have known if Jesus didn’t exist and was just a story based on a composite of people who lived at the time…”

    Is she paraphrasing you from Did Jesus Exist?

    In your scholarly opinion, the Epistle of James is not written by James the Just, correct?
    In the letter, Jesus is mentioned at 1:1 and 2:1 but not as a personal brother. In Josephus, James doesn’t say he is a brother of Jesus, Josephus does.

    I believe you may use James as support for the existence of Jesus in Does Jesus Exist? Where does James own (claim) Jesus as a brother?

    • Avatar
      Steefen  November 7, 2014

      This would make it worse: “The epistle was addressed to “the twelve tribes scattered abroad” (James 1:1), which is generally taken to mean a Jewish Christian audience outside of Palestine.”

      1) scatter abroad could refer to post-Temple destruction, while, of course, James could not refer to that because he died before the post-destruction scattering
      2) We know the cities of Pauline Christianity. What cities were definitely Jamesian Christianity?

      • Bart
        Bart  November 7, 2014

        Those scattered appear to be *Christians” — since that’s the audience for his letter. Jerusalem is usually thought of as a Jamesian city.

        • Avatar
          Steefen  November 8, 2014

          (Smile) Dr. Ehrman, the epistle is addressed to the 12 tribes scattered abroad, so, to what cities outside of Jerusalem would James be writing? One might make a case that James had a foothold in Antioch after correcting what Paul was doing there. There were plenty of Jewish cities outside of Jerusalem. While Paul has letters to cities plural, James’ words needed their roadshow, too.

          • Bart
            Bart  November 10, 2014

            I thin kit was a book for general circulation. And I don’t think James actually wrote it!

    • Bart
      Bart  November 7, 2014

      Yes, that’s my view: Jesus had a brother James (it’s attested in the Gospels, in Paul, and even in Josephus). My argument has nothing to do with the letter of James, that was forged in his name later; it has to do with Paul. Paul knew James and speaks of him as the Lord’s brother. If Jesus didn’t exist, I don’t see how Paul’s comment could be possible.

      • Avatar
        Steefen  November 8, 2014

        The jury has not been impressed that James called Jesus “my blood brother, fellow son of Mary.”
        James does not speak of Mary.
        Mary does not speak of James to Jesus.
        Mary Magdalene does not speak of James
        Peter and Judas do not speak to the Lord of his brother James.

        Jesus does not ask, who is my brother? James?

        Bart: If Jesus didn’t exist, I don’t see how Paul’s comment could be possible.

        Steefen: It doesn’t have to be. Paul’s comment on the resurrection body is not possible. Paul says things that cannot be possible and he doesn’t care.

        Copying from the second edition of my manuscript:

        What difference does it make, as long as in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed? – An Authentic Letter of Paul to the Philippians 1: 18.

        Paul is not a foundation for establishing the existence of Jesus. Like my pastor said in his sermon series “From Jesus to Christ, the Rise of Christianity,” before Paul, Gentiles received the messages of Jesus from the Hellenists: wave 1 the message spread at and after Pentecost and wave 2 the message spread to the Gentiles when the Hellenists left after the martyrdom of Stephen. I’m pretty sure the spread went to Phoenicia. Once something gets to Phoenicia, it’s going to cross the Mediterranean.

  4. Avatar
    Steefen  November 9, 2014

    Can we use the YouTube Share option of embedding videos? I heard it doesn’t take up space because it’s like a hyperlink that just plays without taking away storage memory.

    Thank you.

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