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Explaining Jesus’ Apocalyptic Assumptions

One other aspect of Jesus’ teaching is important to emphasize before continuing on to consider his understanding of the afterlife.  That is the thoroughly apocalyptic character of his views.

I have discussed Jewish apocalypticism a number of times on the blog—including some months ago on the current thread.  I don’t want to repeat all that here in the same form, but I do want to summarize what the view is and discuss its underlying assumptions.

In a small nutshell, apocalypticists believed that this world was being controlled by evil forces responsible for this terrible mess of things (corrupt governments; natural disasters; persecution of the righteous), but that God, who was ultimately sovereign, was soon to intervene in the course of human affairs, overthrow the forces of evil, and establish a utopian kingdom here on earth.

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How Old Was Jesus at His Baptism, Start of His Ministry & Death?
The Preaching of Jesus in a Nutshell



  1. Avatar
    jbskq5  October 10, 2017

    You addressed the books of Maccabees in an earlier post. What are some of the other sources used to establish this basic understanding of apocalypse and the afterlife?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      Mainly the Jewish apocalypses, such as 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, and 4 Ezra.

  2. Lev
    Lev  October 10, 2017

    Hi Bart,

    Do you think there was a common source or influence over the apocalyptic views of John the Baptist and Jesus?

    They both seem to have used similar language over the coming judgement and its imminence.

    I’m curious if you think the Essenes and / or the book of Daniel had much influence over their message?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      It’s usually thought that Jesus was John’s disciple/follower and got much of his message from him. Where he got it is harder to say.

      • Lev
        Lev  October 11, 2017

        James Tabor makes a good case for claiming 4Q521, an Essene fragment recovered from the Dead Sea Scrolls, was quoted back to John the Baptist’s followers when they were sent to Jesus asking if he was the one to come.


        It’s one of the rare narrative sections of Q, so appears to be very early. I think you’re right that Jesus was a follower of John and listened to his teaching. If Tabor is right about 4Q521, and the evidence and arguments seem to stack up, would you agree that the Essenes are a likely source or influence for Jesus’ apocalyptic message?

        • Bart
          Bart  October 13, 2017

          No, I don’t think so. Apocalyptic thought was widely shared among Jews at the time, and nothing ties Jesus to the Essene communities (while several things show how very different he was from them)

          • Lev
            Lev  October 13, 2017

            Yes, I don’t think Jesus had direct involvement with the Essene community, but most Dead Sea Scroll scholars think that John the Baptist did.

            Tabor’s argument is that 4Q521 shows that both Jesus and JBap were familiar with this Messianic Apocalypse, as demonstrated when Jesus cited it back to JBap’s disciples when they made their enquiry.

            What seems most likely to me is that this was a saying that JBap used during this teaching about the coming Messiah, which Jesus subsequently heard and learnt from.

            My argument is that there was a line from the Essene community to JBap to Jesus – that Jesus had second-hand knowledge of Essene Messianic predictions and that he confirmed that this one was (almost) true about him.

            I say almost because of one aspect was not fulfilled – the prediction the Messiah would free the captives. Jesus left out this part when he repeated it back to JBap’s disciples, which would explain why he then goes on to say “Blessed is anyone who takes no offence at me.” (Lk 7:23) In other words – “No offence John, but I’m not springing you from jail.”

          • Bart
            Bart  October 15, 2017

            I don’t think there’s any compelling evidence that John was involved with the Essene community. His mission was very, very different from theirs. Just because he and they were apocalypticists is not very persuasive as an argument, I would say.

          • Lev
            Lev  October 15, 2017

            Yes, I agree that the means of completing their missions were very, very different, but they shared the same mission goals and when JBap was questioned by ‘the priests and Levites from Jerusalem’ over who he was, he responded: “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’” (Jn 1:23)

            The Essene Community Rule cites the same Isaiah passage when identifying their mission and purpose: “And when these become members of the Community in Israel according to all these rules, they shall separate from the habitation of unjust men and shall go into the wilderness to prepare there the way of Him; as it is written: ‘Prepare in the wilderness the way of…make it straight in the desert a path for our God’” (1QS – The Community Rule)

            This isn’t the only evidence, but it’s one of the strongest parallels of purpose and mission between JBap and the Essenes. Furthermore, scholarly opinion seems to have settled with a 3:1 majority in favour of JBap being either influenced or associated with the Essene community:

            Scholars who accept JBap was either influenced or associated with the Essene community:

            1. R Eisler
            2. Otto Betz
            3. Jean Steinmann
            4. Yigal Yadin
            5. John Allegro
            6. Barbara Thiering
            7. Charles Fritsch
            8. Millar Burrows
            9. David Flusser
            10. Kurt Schubert
            11. Michael Grant
            12. Joseph Fitzmyer
            13. Magen Broshi
            14. Jozef Milik
            15. Geza Vermes
            16. Robert Feathers
            17. Jean Danieleo
            18. Jack Finnegan
            19. Daniel Schwartz
            20. Raymond Brown
            21. R Harrison
            22. Charles Scobie
            23. John Robinson
            24. Oscar Cullmann
            25. Robert Webb
            26. William Brownlee
            27. George Brooke
            28. Lucretta Mowry
            29. James VanderKam

            Scholars who reject John the Baptist was influenced or associated with the Essene community:

            1. H Rowley
            2. Frank Cross
            3. Pierre Benoit
            4. Cyrus Gordon
            5. Edmund Sutcliffe
            6. John Pryke
            7. Joan Taylor
            8. James Charlesworth
            9. Carsten Thiede
            10. Ian McDonald

            It seems to me that there are good reasons for believing that JBap had an Essene past, or was at least influenced by their teaching.

  3. Avatar
    Pattycake1974  October 10, 2017

    Basically, Jesus did not believe in an afterlife. The Son of Man was supposed to bring in the new kingdom, and I’m guessing he never thought any human being would ever see God. Only the angels could see God which were still higher than humans?

    When he chose his disciples, he was literally choosing them to be rulers for the new kingdom. What I don’t understand is why Judas chose to alert the authorities because it wasn’t as though Jesus was planning on taking over through insurrection. Maybe Judas thought he was crazy and needed to be turned in.

    • Avatar
      Wilusa  October 12, 2017

      Or maybe Judas thought Jesus had become too wrapped up in the idea of a glorious destiny for *himself*. (I think it would have been possible to believe in the coming “Kingdom” without believing in any kind of “Messiah*.)

    • Avatar
      RVBlake  October 13, 2017

      Your comment has settled a question I’ve had on this topic. I couldn’t reconcile the idea of the coming kingdom with the afterlife. As for Judas, traditionally he got 30 pieces of silver…That may have been a fortune at that time, and he simply wanted the money. Always assuming, of course, that this happened at all.

  4. Avatar
    Candlestickone  October 10, 2017

    An admitted athiest pontificating on belief ?😳 what are you not smoking?

  5. Avatar
    Eric  October 10, 2017

    Interesting tangent (to me): if Creation were to be returned to its pristine state, and all things created were good, then in this thinking did they believe the fallen angels would return to an unfallen state?

  6. talmoore
    talmoore  October 10, 2017

    Yeah, this an interesting contrast with the Greeks and the Indians, who did believe that the material world was inferior and must be “transcended”. I find it interesting that the Indo-European cultures — such as the Greeks and the Indians — did see the body as contemptible, while Semitic cultures seemed to see the body as almost sacred (note that the Talmudists didn’t think that a dead body was tumah because it was disgusting but because it was holy, not unlike how handling the Torah makes one tumah, not because the Torah is contemptible, but because it’s holy). I’m reminded of the difference between how Zoroasterians (an Indo-Iranian religion) and Jews and Muslims (Semitic religions) treat the bodies of their dead. While Jews and Muslims respectfully wash, enshroud and entomb the dead within 24 hours, the Zoroasterians, in stark contrast, literally leave their dead out to rot and be eaten by vultures (google Tower of Silence, but be warned, do not view the images while eating). In a similar vain, the Hindus are in the habit of sending their dead down the Ganges river, where the Indian authorities are constantly fishing out the bloated, putrifying corpses. Meanwhile, in Semitic cultures, almost nothing can be more shameful than having a relative’s corpse be left outside to rot and be eaten by animals (cf. Jezebel). I think these distinctions in how these cultures view the body at death translate to how they view the body in life, which is why you’ll often see mortification practiced by Hindus, Buddhists and, by extension some Christians, but not so much by Jews and Muslims (with the possible exception Tatbir performed by some Shia).

    • Avatar
      Wilusa  October 12, 2017

      I remember *starting* to read a very long, presumably well-researched novel about the history of Brazil. It told about an indigenous people who *ate* all their dead; that was believed to be the only *decent* way of treating human remains. Typically, the remains were shared by everyone in the tribe. But those of a deceased *infant* were eaten only by its parents.

  7. Avatar
    godspell  October 10, 2017

    I suppose you could say that having winnowed out the wheat from the chaff, and presuming that in a world of immortal bodies where family is no longer preeminent there will be no more reproduction, there would be no new fall of man, because these are the people who resisted evil, resisted temptation, who have passed the final test.

    Damn, I just synopsized Stephen King’s The Stand.

    Now there’s a man who reads his bible.


    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      Yes, I used to use The Stand in my class on Apocalypse Now and Then (which I haven’t taught in many years)

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

        Christian Horror would be an interesting focus for a dissertation. The writings of Stephen King might serve as the archetype for that genre. Actually, Dante might be the archetype, but King is certainly the leader in contemporary Christian Horror.

      • Avatar
        godspell  October 12, 2017

        He made it a bit more plausible, and of course he gave Evil Incarnate the edge because book sales.

        I’m very peeved at him for rewriting it and updating all the cultural references, though. Does this mean we don’t get the chapter where one of the minions of Flagg disparages Howard the Duck? He truly is the George Lucas of prose.

        I remember reading one interview with him where he talked about how much he loved reading the bible, loved what was in it–said he didn’t read it for the flowery language, but for the content. Which he could pilfer to his heart’s content, and never once a plagiarism lawsuit. God’s not the suing kind, I suppose. 😉

  8. Avatar
    Bstevens  October 10, 2017

    What book would you reccomend on The Enlightenment Era? I am at a fundamentalist college where it’s not being taught and I want to expand my horizons. Looking for something that explains the religious/political environment before and during, and the evolution of democratic priciples and freedom of thought afterwards?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      I’m afraid I don’t have a good recommendation: maybe someone else on the blog does?

    • talmoore
      talmoore  October 11, 2017

      Possibly the best window onto Enlightenment thinking about religion and politics is Thomas Paine’s Age of Reason. You can find a free PDF here –> http://klymkowskylab.colorado.edu/Readings/Thomas%20Paine%20-%20The%20Age%20of%20Reason.pdf

    • Avatar
      SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

      The Discoverers by Daniel J. Boorstin. It covers more than the Enlightenment, but it will give you much of what you are seeking. If you would like my copy, I am hereby giving Bart permission to give you my email address (if Bart is willing) so we can work out shipping arrangements. Just let him know if you want it. AEK

    • Avatar
      Skepticalone  October 25, 2017

      I have also been looking at these issues . Several things occurred to me . One is ..There is a way that seems right to man and that way leads to death . Do not eat every “fruit” that someone hands you . It may appear to be good but may have at it’s core a seed of rebellion . For all of the good democracy has wrought …how has it prepared us for a sovereign God and a Kingdom ? Are we as a people very submissive ? Are we closer to God and more in the image of His Son ? Or we a people obsessed with our rights ? If it is true that a third of the angels were enticed away by Satan , I can not help but wonder if he did not promise them that they could be their own gods and do whatever they liked …in other words , Life , Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness .

  9. Avatar
    Wilusa  October 10, 2017

    Totally different, but I think most present-day believers in “Heaven” expect to be living *there* in “improved” versions of their current bodies.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      That’s what *I’M* hopin’!

      • Avatar
        CarlWeetabix  October 12, 2017

        As I say to my friends – I haven’t met anyone who was sure they were going to Heaven that I wanted to share Heaven with…

  10. Avatar
    ardeare  October 10, 2017

    Speaking of the afterlife, there are certain similar passages that become difficult to reconcile when taken literally. For example,”outer darkness” is mentioned 3 times in the Book of Matthew (8:12, 22:13, and 25:30). I think most Christians believe this refers to hell as it also comes with weeping and gnashing of teeth. I also believe most Christians would agree that *fire and brimstone* refers to hell as we read in the Book of Revelation; “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).

    The oddity comes into play because you can’t have outer darkness and fire and brimstone in the same location. Fire and brimstone glows and gives off light.

  11. tompicard
    tompicard  October 10, 2017

    Dr Ehrman,
    I am not familiar with this idea that the ‘soul’ is totally dependent on the body. and can think of a instances that imply the contrary.
    Samuel’s ‘soul’ appearing to Saul
    Moses’ and Elijah’s ‘souls’ appearing to Jesus James and John
    the ‘souls’ of many saints appearing to those in Jerusalem after Jesus death.
    I guess you can hold that in all those instances the appearances entailed Samuel’s, Elijah’s Moses’ and other saints’ physical bodies, but I have always understood it to be only their ‘souls’. Did Moses physical body rise from the grave in 33 C.E. cross the Jordan river and appear on top of the mountain of transfiguration for about 1/2 hour, then only after Peter’s suggestion to build a tent for it, return back to the same grave?
    Jesus’ words in Matt 10:28 about not being afraid of those who kill the ‘body’ but cant kill the ‘soul’ likewise imply the possible existence of the soul independent of the body.
    All the paradoxes spoken by Jesus, ‘dead burying the dead’, ‘losing your life and saving it’ ONLY make sense, as far as I can figure, if in these paradoxes one reference to ‘death’ and one reference to ‘life’ refer to life/death of the body and the other refers to the life/death of the soul. In these paradoxes Jesus is speaking to living humans composed of both body and soul, so it may not imply they can exist independently, but only that one part of the entire human may be alive (for instance the body) and yet at the same moment the other part of that human is dead (the soul).

    Which scripture and in particular which words by Jesus lead you to the conclusion that the soul cant exist independent of the body?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      One major point is that Samuel’s soul did *not* appear to Saul. Samuel himself did. He was an old man wearing a robe! The division of the person into soul and body is Greek; it’s not in the Hebrew Bible.

  12. tompicard
    tompicard  October 10, 2017

    also I am not clear on the logic of
    > But inherently the physical world – and the physical body — is good,
    > which means it will be restored rather than escaped.
    things can be good and after they have served their intended purpose be thrown away.

    I have heard that God’s design of the relationship between the physical body and the soul is the same as between the placenta and the fetus. i.e. at birth the placenta has served its purpose so it is thrown away and the fetus continues its existence as a child. Similarly at death the physical body has served its purpose so is thrown away but the soul continues its existence in relationship to God.

    • Avatar
      SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

      Many mammals (including humans) eat the placenta after giving birth, so as not to waste all the good nutrients it contains. Likewise, Mother Earth, whence our bodies came, consumes and recycles us.
      On the soul as a function of the body, rather than a separate entity, there is more literature in the field of neuroscience than you can shake a shoe at.

    • DestinationReign
      DestinationReign  October 13, 2017

      The placenta/fetus analogy is an excellent one, but is more applicable to the Christian institution, which has served its purpose and must now be discarded; or, at the least, transcended. All of this relates back to Luke’s difference in thematic structure regarding Jesus’ atoning death, compared to Matthew and Mark. Luke is the Gospel that pertains to this timeline juncture of the end-time awakening, as we transition into the Kingdom Age. The time of Christianity, founded upon blood atonement tenets, is done.

  13. Avatar
    caesar  October 10, 2017

    Here is what I am gathering about Jesus’ view…tell me if I’m wrong.

    –There was a ‘Kingdom of God/Heaven’, that would occur on earth, and last forever, beginning very shortly after the death of Jesus.
    –At that time, everyone who died in the past would be resurrected, with a perfect body.
    –Fortunes would be reversed–if I was downtrodden in this life, I would be exalted in this Kingdom.
    –I could also be exalted in this future Kingdom by following the Law, helping others…(in this life)
    –‘Bad’ people, or the powerful/rich get to live forever, but in a humiliated state?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      My sense is that he thought those not entering the kingdom would be annihilated. But I’ll get to that eventually.

      • Avatar
        RVBlake  October 12, 2017

        In an interview, with whom I cannot now recall, Pope Francis opined that instead of being consigned to Hell, the unrepentant sinner’s soul would be annihilated. Naturally, this added to the fury of Traditionalist Catholics.

    • talmoore
      talmoore  October 11, 2017

      On the contrary, Jesus probably taught that all this was going to happen while he was still alive! That’s why when he died before the Kingdom arrived his followers were shocked and surprised and stunned and all other sorts of s-words. After Jesus’ death, his followers had only two options: A) believe Jesus was not what they thought he was, or B) believe Jesus was still somehow right about everything, and the followers merely missed a clue or something. For those who chose option A, they simply left the movement. For those who chose option B, they had to somehow rationalize and re-invented what they believed so as to fit the new narrative. Christianity, in essence, is what the option B followers developed in order to explain away why Jesus died before the Kingdom arrived rather than the Kingdom coming while Jesus was still alive. That’s why the New Testament devotes so much ink to explaining WHY Jesus died. Because any reasonable person who isn’t already invested in the belief that Jesus was right (i.e. those people who were already naturally inclined to doubt Jesus) would automatically conclude that Jesus’ death was proof positive that he was a phoney. The entire Christian message is, therefore, based on one premise: Jesus couldn’t possibly have been wrong, so there must be a reason why he seemed to have been both right and wrong.

      This kind of reminds me of what it’s like talking to someone who believes in “fate”. For the person who belives in fate, everything happens for a reason. So I have to ask such a person, does that mean that there is literally no such thing as randomness? And that usually stumps them for a few minutes. If they say, yes, there is no such thing as a random event, I ask then why does assuming randomness in the universe, for example, in statistics, allows us to make astonishingly accurate predictions, while if no events were ever random, then nothing would be predictable. At that point they will have to admit that some things are just random. I then ask them how they are able to distinguish random events from events that aren’t random (i.e. the events that “happened for a reason”). Since the vast majority of people have never really given thought to such a question, they usually don’t have an answer. Invariably, they turn to the tried and true claim that it’s all “a matter of faith”. The first Christians weren’t reasoned into their beliefs about Jesus. They already believed his message was true, and when it turned out to not be true, they simply reasoned their way to affirming true that which was already demonstrated to be false.

      Most religion is like this.

      • Avatar
        dragonfly  October 17, 2017

        Possibly they all chose A initially, then when someone had a vision of Jesus, some of them changed to B.

        I suspect people avoid mentioning anything to do with religion around you by now.

        • talmoore
          talmoore  October 18, 2017

          Just the other day I went to my family’s Chabad shul for Simchat Torah, and if you’re familiar at all with Chabad you know that the Chabadniks imbide a prodigious amount of alcohol on such occasions. Since I’m not one to turn down free booze I’ll admit I got thoroughly plastered. By the end of the night I found myself sitting next to the Rabbi in an intense dialogue with a Chabadnik across from me named Yitzy (who also happens to be the only man I know with a longer beard than mine). I can’t say I remember every detail of our converstion, but let’s say it was heated enough that the Rabbi left the table, the rest of the table was staring straight at me, and my cousin had to pull me away in fear that I would terribly embarrass him. Needless to say, I embarrassed him nonetheless, but, alas, that is the usual outcome. I still don’t know why my family bothers to invite me to such events.

      • Avatar
        Skepticalone  October 25, 2017

        And did Jesus die after the Resurrection ? If not, then I guess He is right . It did happen while He is alive. The early Christians who lived in community and with joy shared their belongings with any in need immediately after Pentecost did see the Kingdom . Love IS the Kingdom . Can you not see ?

  14. Avatar
    smackemyackem  October 10, 2017

    Where would one find the background material for the fall of the angels leading to a decaying world in the bible? Ive always heard christians refer to the fall of man but not so much to the fallen angels.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      It was a very common Jewish tradition. You can read one clear statement of it in teh book of 1 Enoch.

  15. Avatar
    john76  October 10, 2017

    There is really no good hermeneutic ground to claim Jesus was an apocalyptic thinker. Paul says Jesus was the “First fruits (1 Corinthians 15:23).” of the general resurrection of souls at the end of day, but all this means is that Jesus was being interpreted by some after his death in an apocalyptic way, which would speak to Paul’s apocalyptic ideology, not necessarily Jesus’. As for the Gospel of Mark, the apocalyptic presentation of Jesus there may just reflect Mark’s desire to invent material to present Jesus as greater than John the Baptist and his apocalyptic message, in the same way Matthew invents material to make Jesus appear as The New Moses. Or Mark may have just been providing a narrative framework for the apocalyptic message he found in Paul’s letters. As for later gospels, those writers may just have been transmitting and inventing apocalyptic material based on what they had heard in their communities and in their travels – or from Mark. In short, there is no ground on which to stand and call the historical Jesus an apocalyptic prophet as Dr. Ehrman does.

    • Avatar
      john76  October 10, 2017

      And is there any reason to suppose Jesus’ apocalyptic message simply from Q, when the apocalyptic message there may simply reflect familiarity with Paul, or just an apocalyptic interpretation of Jesus spreading around after Jesus died?

      • Bart
        Bart  October 11, 2017

        Nothing suggests that Q knew Paul. The problem is that Jesus was a disciple of John, who was an apocalypticist; so the apocalyptic ideas didn’t begin *after* Jesus; they were the ones he embraced at the start of his ministry (if not earlier)

        • Avatar
          john76  October 11, 2017

          There is no reason to think Jesus was a disciple of John just because Mark says so. Mark may have just been namedropping a well known spiritual leader like the apocalyptic John the Baptist to show that Jesus was greater than John, just like Elijah bequeathed a double portion of his power to Elisha, recognizing him as his successor and superior. After all, as I said, Matthew invented much material to argue Jesus was the new and greater Moses. You can’t just conclude from the fact that a known personage makes an appearance in the gospels that the historical Jesus had any connection to them. Consider the case of Publius Sulpicius Quirinius. No, at most we can conclude that a particular writer was an apocalyptic thinker, not that their subject Jesus was apocalyptic.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 13, 2017

            Yes, I don’t know any scholars who think that Jesus must have been John’s disciple just because Mark says so.

          • Avatar
            john76  October 14, 2017

            Bart said below: “Yes, I don’t know any scholars who think that Jesus must have been John’s disciple just because Mark says so.”

            It is possible that Jesus knew John the Baptist, but there is no reason to think that it’s probable. Mark might have just been inventing a pericope that showed Jesus was greater than John the Baptist, the way Matthew invented material to show Jesus was greater than Moses. There is (possibly) a heavy lining of haggadic Midrash in the gospel of Mark. Mark says “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ ; as it is written in the prophets.” Mark immediately interprets John the Baptist as a forerunner of the Messiah (a la Elijah in II Kings 1:8). Mark then clothes John similar to Elijah (Mark 1:6. II Kings 1:8.) He then says John ate locusts and wild honey,the food of the wilderness in which Elijah lived (and so on and so on). Perhaps the baptism of Jesus by John is meant to reflect 2 Kings 2 near the Jordan where Elijah bequeathed a double portion of his power to Elisha, making Elisha his successor and superior. Maybe later writers misunderstood this as a historical event, and because it was already understood that way in their communities and so couldn’t deny it, they included it as an embarrassing event that had to be explained away. Just because later writers were embarrassed by it doesn’t mean Mark was, or even that Mark ever meant for the pericope to be taken literally.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 15, 2017

            The reason for connecting Jesus with John is not just that Mark says so; it’s because it is *independently* attested by stories in Mark, Q, M, John, and Acts. That kind of widespread independent attestation has to be taken very seriously.

          • Avatar
            john76  October 15, 2017

            Bart said: “The reason for connecting Jesus with John is not just that Mark says so; it’s because it is *independently* attested by stories in Mark, Q, M, John, and Acts. That kind of widespread independent attestation has to be taken very seriously.”

            A growing number of scholars deny the Q hypothesis, such as Austin Farrer, Michael Goulder, and Mark Goodacre. Also, there is no reason to think John was unfamiliar with previous writers, if only from traditions that were passed down to his community. Acts is not independent attestation, since Luke read Mark. The “M” source is purely hypothetical, and doesn’t reflect the fact that maybe it wasn’t really a source, just the gospel writer’s creativity. We can’t assume material unique to a writer reflects a separate souce. They may just have been inventing things. Maybe Matthew simply adopted and elaborated on the Baptizer stuff from Mark, and Luke read Matthew.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 16, 2017

            I’m not sure I would think of Farrer, Goulder, and Goodacre as a “growing number of scholars.” Check out their dates! Goulder was a student of Farrer and Goodacre was a student of Goulder, so really we’re talking one scholar each over three generations. I don’t know how many people Mark Goodacre has convinced, but I would be interested in knowing!

          • Avatar
            john76  October 15, 2017

            Oops, spelling mistake in my last post. It should have said “source,” not “souce.” Sorry!

          • Avatar
            john76  October 16, 2017

            Dr. Ehrman said:

            “I’m not sure I would think of Farrer, Goulder, and Goodacre as a “growing number of scholars.” Check out their dates! Goulder was a student of Farrer and Goodacre was a student of Goulder, so really we’re talking one scholar each over three generations. I don’t know how many people Mark Goodacre has convinced, but I would be interested in knowing!”

            Regarding Q, Luke says he had gathered and investigated the writings about Jesus and his followers that were available at that time:

            “1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled[a] among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught. (Luke 1)” 

            In order to assert Q against Matthew as a source for Luke, you would have to explain why Matthew’s gospel wouldn’t have been available for Luke, since Matthew’s gospel is exactly the type of thing Luke was looking for to do his research?

            And the Wikipedia article on Q says:  

            “How could a major and respected source, used in two canonical gospels, disappear? If Q did exist, it would have been highly treasured in the early Church. It remains a mystery how such an important document, which was the foundation for two canonical Gospels, could be lost. An even greater mystery is why the extensive Church catalogs compiled by Eusebius and Nicephorus would omit such an important work yet include such non-canonical accounts as the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Thomas. The existence of a treasured sayings document in circulation going unmentioned by early Church Fathers remains one of the great conundrums of modern Biblical scholarship.”

          • Bart
            Bart  October 17, 2017

            How could a major and respected source disappear?!? Ha!!! Oh *boy* I wish major and respected sources hadn’t disappeared! (Whoever wrote that bit on Wikipedia doesn’t know a lot about ancient literature!)

        • Avatar
          SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

          This raises a tangential question I’ve never asked myself. Was Paul famous outside the churches he founded and corresponded with? I don’t mean in non-Christian circles, but was he as well known in the Christian world as James, the brother of Jesus, and Peter, for instance? I’m assuming James and Peter were the two most famous Christians of their day. Maybe they weren’t.

          • Bart
            Bart  October 13, 2017

            Well, he was in Rome, anyway. We don’t have info on the other churches.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      I’m not sure you’ve read the actual arguments for Jesus’ being an apocalypticist — but I’d be interested in your response, since they are pretty compelling, I think.

  16. Avatar
    Adam0685  October 10, 2017

    Great explanation… interesting how this apocalyptic view of life after this life which seems a fundamental belief of Jesus and his earliest followers was later (and relatively quickly) forgotten, reinvented or reinterpreted into something very different.

  17. Avatar
    NancyGKnapp  October 11, 2017

    The idea of a coming kingdom is still around. Every time we recite the Lord’s Prayer and say “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” However, there are two versions floating around 1) kingdom on earth and 2) kingdom of heaven. I think of the great missionary song, We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations: Part of the chorus reads “…and God’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light. But, it’s common to be reminded at a funeral service that the dearly departed is even now in the heavenly kingdom. Then there is that favorite of praise bands that alludes to the 2nd coming. Though it is poor theology, it seems to be based on Paul’s idea that the dead in Christ will rise first and then those that are alive wii be caught up and together their bodies wll be transformed. “There’s going to be a meeting in the air in the sweet sweet bye and bye. How I long to meet you over there in the land beyond the sky. Such singing you will hear never heard by mortal ear, t’will be glorious I do declare for God’s own son will be the leading one in that meeting in the air.” I am confused. Did the early church have a doctrine on this? Is there a kingdom coming and will it be on earth or in heaven? Or do some authors say one thing and some another?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      Yes, that’s the problem with “the early church”: there wasn’t *one* view of much of anything….

    • Avatar
      SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

      Here’ one the praise bands can’t touch — it’s from an early 20th century Pentecostal song my father’s cousin, a Pentecostal preacher, sang for my brothers and me about 1962:

      One of these nights about twelve o’clock,
      This ol’ world’s gonna reel and rock.
      Sinners will tremble and cry with pain
      And the Lord will come and get us in His aeroplane…. (J.S. McConnell, 1928)

      One of my fascinations with Pentecostal hymnody is the incorporation of new technology into their images of the divine: “Telephone to Glory,” “Jesus is comin’ in his Aeroplane,” “Get in touch with God — turn your Radio on!” Are any of the contemporary Christian writers that culturally relevant?

      • Avatar
        NancyGKnapp  October 14, 2017

        I had forgotten about “Telehone to Glory”, and your mention of it made me remember “Llfe is Like a Mountain Railway.”

  18. DestinationReign
    DestinationReign  October 11, 2017

    Seeing the repeating, “divine template” behind our existence is paramount to having a better understanding of this issue. We have already seen that with:

    Christ walked as a man > Christ killed and entombed > Christ resurrects and ascends

    Light in the world temporarily > Age of darkness > Light returns in power

    Kingdom Truth preached > Age of Christianity interruption > Kingdom Truth restored/Kingdom revealed

    As we see, there are different levels of application of this template, and these levels even reach as high as the span of events from Genesis to Revelation. The Bible itself IS this very template.

    This must begin with the absolute necessity of understanding the delineation between the Elohim of Genesis 1, and Yahweh, who is not introduced until Genesis 2:4. To begin making sense of the grand plan, it MUST be accepted that Yahweh is NOT the supreme God, or Prime Creator. He is the God of this lower, corrupted from of existence – and the Bible tells us so! Notice the crucial difference between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:4 wherein Yahweh is named in Scripture for the first time. (Emphasis added below.)

    “In the beginning, God [the Elohim with no name] created THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH.” (Genesis 1:1)

    “This is the history of the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Yahweh God made THE EARTH AND THE HEAVENS.” (Genesis 2:4)

    This “flip-flop” is not an accident or a meaningless change; it is a DIVINE CLUE. The heavens and the earth is the divine order of creation; that is the original creation by the Elohim in Genesis 1, where all was GOOD. But when Yahweh comes along in Genesis 2, the first thing we are told about him is that he FLIPPED the divine order of creation to the earth and the heavens. Here, the flesh rules over the spirit. But upon the revelation of the true Kingdom, divine order will be restored. We see this restoration in Revelation 21:1:

    “I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth have passed away.”

    Do you see how this self-replicating template expands as far as the beginning to the end?

    Kingdom Truth preached > Age of darkness > Kingdom Truth restored/Kingdom revealed

    Perfect Creation > Creation corrupted > Creation restored in a HIGHER FORM

    Heavens and earth > Earth and heavens > New heavens and new earth

    Having the eyes to see this solves MANY paradoxes that have baffled brilliant minds for ages. This completes the divine circle and brings the end back to the beginning. This is also why, by divine orchestration, it wasn’t until the current generation that the Gospel of Thomas was discovered – because that book’s riddles pertain to this very time; the time of the end wherein many will be transformed alive without tasting death!

    Jesus says: “Have you then deciphered the beginning, that you ask about the end? For where the beginning is, there shall be the end. Blessed is the man who reaches the beginning; he will know the end, and will not taste death.” (Thomas 18)

    • Avatar
      meohanlon  October 13, 2017

      I’ve always admired how the Gospel of Thomas points towards non-duality as the key to salvation (the two must be made one). I also agree that the unnameable is what is truly transcendent. The God that can be named(or conceptualized) is not the true (original source of all) God.

      • DestinationReign
        DestinationReign  October 13, 2017

        Yes, correct on all fronts! And not only has Abrahamic-oriented religion named God, but culturalized him as well. When assessing the Old Testament honestly, “Yahweh” is truly the most accurate example of a “racist.”

        As for duality, let us not forget who introduced the duality of good and evil – the creator of that very “tree,” once again, Yahweh. (All in Genesis 1 was created “good,” and the whole of creation was VERY good. So, where did evil come from?) It is also under Yahweh’s administration that the duality of life and death was introduced. Bible studiers must realize the necessity of emphasizing the DIFFERENCES between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2/3, instead of trying to harmonize it all.

        Man is entombed in Yahweh’s matrix and must break free. This is the unknown collective message of Scripture, hidden throughout the ages. When the religious masses begin to collectively awaken to this and stop feeding this entity all of their own innate divine power, the stronghold is broken and man overcomes death and returns to his divine home. But, as long as “Yahweh” continues to be worshipped as the true God, his rules are in force:
        “To dust you shall return.”

  19. Avatar
    gavriel  October 11, 2017

    This belief in everlasting, perfect bodies in a perfectly organized society on earth would imply the abolishment of sex and childbearing, right?

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      For Jesus, yes.

      • Avatar
        SidDhartha1953  October 12, 2017

        Jesus is said to have really loved children. Do you think he was assuming they would never grow up in his Kingdom?

  20. Avatar
    RVBlake  October 11, 2017

    Would humans still reproduce in this state of Wonderfulness? If so, would these children age? And to what point, since death would no longer be an issue. On another note, I fail to understand the desirability of Eternity. My mind cannot grasp the concept of Eternity, but it sounds awful. Most especially surrounded by these insufferably Good people. I mean no Sin? None? I’m no libertine but a little Sin adds spice to life. A long, healthy, limited life, interspersed with the occasional sprinkling of harmless Sin, that sounds like the ticket. An Eternity spent in Goodness sounds like something a child would dream up.

    • Bart
      Bart  October 11, 2017

      For Jesus, no: there was no sex or reproduction after the resurrection.

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