How Views of the Afterlife Changed

I’ve been explaining how the tours to heaven and hell – both of them Near Death Experiences – in the Acts of Thomas are meant to show the Christian alternatives to Greek and Roman views of the afterlife.   For early Christians it would not be a dull and boring, powerless and mindless existence for all eternity, as it is depicted in the oldest Greek sources, and it would not require hundreds of years of “purging” where the stains of wickedness ...

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An Ancient Author Trying to Justify His Deceit

Yesterday I talked about one Christian forger who got caught red handed who had to explain himself.  Well, justify himself.  Well, bend over backwards to make himself look innocent.  We’ve been seeing a lot of that these days.  It goes way back.  Humans are humans.

Here is my assessment of the situation, not in terms of our own front-page news but in terms of this obscure little controversy, which highlights my obscure little academic point: in the ancient world, readers simply ...

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A Christian Forger Caught in the Act

Next month I will be giving a keynote address at a conference dealing with ancient pseudepigrapha at the University of Laval, in Quebec City.  I have recently been discussing the topic (of ancient authors falsely claiming to be a famous person) on the blog in relation to the letter of James, and as you know, it was the subject of my monography Forgery and Counterforgery ten years ago, and my spin-off popular account Forged.   I haven’t ...

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Some Very Strange Journeys to Heaven and Hell

This post is free for everyone, but most posts come only to blog members.  Joining the blog is easy and it gives you access to tons of material for very little expense.  All the money goes to charity.  so why not join.

Last week I was in Marburg, Germany for the annual conference for the Society of New Testament Studies.  This is an international society at the top tier of NT scholars in the world, a closed society that ...

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Was James the Actual Brother of Jesus?

I’ve started talking about the epistle of James, first in relation to Paul (yesterday) and then in relation to … James, the man himself, Jesus’ brother (today).   My ultimate goal is to explain why I’m sure James himself did not write the letter (later).  But in the meantime I’ve received a question that I should probably address first: did Jesus really have a brother named James?   Uh… don’t a lot of Christians think that Jesus never had any siblings (since ...

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An Official Copy of Jesus’ Death Sentence: Another Forgery?

I have been intermittently posting accounts of modern forgeries of Gospels that provide, as a rule, sensationalized information about the “lost” records of Jesus – for example an account claiming he traveled to India as a young man to learn his wisdom from the Brahmins, or another purportedly based on an eyewitness to the crucifixion.

Here now is yet another, this one an allegedly official copy of the death sentence from his trial, written by Pontius Pilate himself, in Hebrew no ...

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An Eyewitness to the Crucifixion? Another Modern Forgery

I’ve started to discuss several modern forgeries connected with the life of Jesus.   These are all completely bogus, but they’ve nonetheless fooled a lot of people.  I get emails from people maybe once a month who want to ask me about something they’ve “heard” about Jesus, and it usually turns out that it comes ultimately from one of these things, which someone has read, and then told someone else, who told someone else, who took it as Gospel truth.

The Essenes ...

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Did Jesus Go to India? A Modern Gospel Forgery.

Last week I mentioned in passing the little-known fact that the apocryphal idea that Jesus travelled to India as a child to learn from the Brahmins, comes to us not from ancient forgeries but relatively modern ones.   That raised some interest among readers, and I realized that I haven’t actually dealt with this intriguing issue on the blog before.  But I did deal with it in one of my books on forgery, the one written for a general audience, Forged: ...

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Wine Flowing in the Kingdom: Guest Post on Papias by Stephen Carlson

Here is yet another guest post by Stephen Carlson on the intriguing but puzzling quotations from Papias, the elusive second century church father who wrote a five-volume book called “Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord.”   What was this book, and does it give us any information from outside the Gospels – from an extremely early source – about the sayings of Jesus?

In this post Stephen addresses one of the most, well, unusual passages known to be from Papias’s work.  ...

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Paul in Hell. The Apocryphal Apocalypse of Paul.

You may have not noticed, since so much else has been happening on the blog lately (guest posts, a debate, etc.), but I have a very loose thread  going on my book on the guided tours of heaven and hell, a scholarly monograph that deals with the Christian versions of “katabasis” (the technical term for “going down” — that is, someone going down into the underworld and then reporting what he saw) in relation to Greek, Roman, and Jewish versions.  ...

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