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Finishing my Dissertation

This is the third and final post I’ll do on my dissertation the Gospel quotations in the writings of Didymus the Blind, advised by great New Testament scholar Bruce Metzger.

 

Different dissertation advisors have different approaches to supervising a dissertation. Some are extremely hands on, to the point of working over every thought and every sentence. Not too many are like that, because if they were, they would never do anything else with their life. Plus, the idea is for the student to figure it out and get good at it. That takes some trial and error. Other advisors go for the big picture and like to talk over the big ideas. Others basically don’t give a rip how the dissertation is coming along – they want to see it at the end, and when it’s done, they’ll tell the student whether it’s good enough or not. Others … well, there are lots of other approaches. Sometime I’ll explain mine, which is not quite any of the above.

Metzger took an approach that other students may have found frustrating, but that was absolutely perfect for me.  He basically let me do my own thing.   He would graciously read the chapters as I gave them to him.  He would answer any questions I had.  He would indicate where I made grammatical (and related) mistakes (he could spot a misplaced semicolon from twelve pages away).   And he did not get very involved in the whole process.  As I said, that approach could be frustrating for students who wanted a lot of guidance.   But I was very independent minded and really wanted just to get on with it without interference.  So Metzger was perfect.

To see the rest of this post, and all others, you will need to belong to the blog.  If you don’t, why not join?  It’s quick, easy, and cheap — less than fifty cents a week.  And ever red cent goes to charity.  So there’s no downside!

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Progress Report on the Afterlife
The Core of My Dissertation on The Gospel Quotations of Didymus the Blind

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Comments

  1. Steefen  August 17, 2018

    Characteristics of Roman Stoicism (built upon the Platonic notion of 3 Realities separate from the Material World)

    First, The creator-god is the logos. (From the Demiurge ideas are formed and God holds that thought (in the Receptacle) as opposed to letting it be fleeting because if it were a fleeting thought it would not make it to the Material World.

    Second, Logos (creator-god) was identified with Jupiter of Roman Religion (in the gospel of John, Logos is assumed to be Jesus’ god, if not Jesus himself).

    Third, the Logos created a logical order.
    – Romans 13: 7 Pay everyone what you owe him, pay your taxes, pay prices to store owners so store owners will have their revenue, pay respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due (not unlike render onto Caesar that which is Caesar’s and render onto God that which is God’s)
    – Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit to your husbands
    – Ephesians 6:5 Slaves obey your earthly masters

    Basically, accept your position. There is a divine plan. Rome is part of that plan. The province of Judea, accept your position in the Roman Empire. “I was born into it (my place in Order/God’s Plan), I should do it dutifully” even if I’m Marcus Aurelius who considered being emperor golden slavery.

    So, the triumph of Christianity (St. Paul and the gospel of John, especially) is based on an attempt to lift Judaism out of notions of revolting messianism and up through salvation based on redemption by a dying creator god who acted on behalf of humanity (mystery cult tenet) into Roman Platonism and Roman Stoicism, or if not Judaism whole cloth, an offshoot moment to do the same, yes?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      It’s not clear to me wehre you’re getting these ideas about Stoicism in the Roman period from.

      • Steefen  August 19, 2018

        Stoicism flourished throughout the Roman and Greek world until the 3rd century AD,.

        We also have Stoicism from Seneca, Musonius Rufus, and Epictetus.

        Scholars usually divide the history of Stoicism into three phases: 1) Early Stoa, from the founding of the school by Zeno to Antipater; 2) Middle Stoa, including Panaetius and Posidonius; and Late Stoa, including Musonius Rufus, Seneca, Epictetus, and Marcus Aurelius.

        In his introduction to the 1964 Penguin Classics edition of Meditations, the Anglican priest Maxwell Stanforth discussed the profound impact Stoicism had on Christianity. He claimed the author of the Fourth Gospel declared Christ to be the Logos, which “had long been one of the leading terms of Stoicism, chosen for the purpose of explaining how deity came into relation with the universe.

        The Great Courses –
        The Fall of the Pagans
        and the Origins
        of Medieval Christianity
        Professor Kenneth Harl – Classical and Byzantine History, Tulane University also on the editorial board of the Am Journal of Archaeology
        Lecture 5: Platonism and Stoicism

        Philosophies practiced by the upper class, Platonism and (second to Platonism) Roman Stoicism

        Roman Stoicism an adaptation of Greek Stoicism

        An important figure in Roman Stoicism is Posidonius of Apamea 135 – 51 B.C. He made Roman Stoicism popular.

        Roman Stoic Doctrines

        – The creator-god is the logos
        – A logical order created by the logos (There’s an overall divine plan. Accept your position. Optimistic. Not against the physical world as the Gnostics were. We have a divine spark from the Logos. A certain capacity for divination. I was born into it, I should do it dutifully.)
        Epictetus of Hierapolis 55 – 135 AD was the best man expounding this.
        There’s an overall plan. Rome is part of the overall divine plan.
        Also see Cicero 106-43 BC, Dream of Scipio, book 6.
        The ruling class of Rome in the Senate were stoics.
        Stoic Publius Clodius Thrasea Paetus, the critic of Nero. In 59 AD, Nero read to the Senate: my mother created treason, so I had her killed. Everyone in the Senate knew this was bogus. After Nero finished reading his proclamation, Thrasea stands up and walks out of the Senate: Quis quod fugit damnat which means what one flees one condemns.

        Lecture 1: Crucial work by Artbur Darby Nock (1902-1963) At the time of the birth of Jesus, there was a flight from the beliefs of the traditional gods. We’re looking at the wider issue of change in philosophy and religion not just the vision we inherited from Eusebius.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 20, 2018

          Yes, I’m familiar with Roman Stoicism. Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius are two of my favorite ancient authors. I wasn’t sure where you were getting your own information from, since some of it did not ring any Stoic bells. Which writings of Musonius Rufus are you thinking of?

          • Steefen  August 20, 2018

            I’m not thinking of any writings by Musonius Rufus.
            What did make my current reading list is
            1) Seneca, Letters from a Stoic
            2) Stoicism in Early Christianity Edited by Tuomas Rasimus et al.
            – Chapter 1: Setting the Scene: Stoicism and Platonism in the Transitional Period in Ancient Philosophy
            – Chapter 2: Stoicism as a Key to Pauline Ethics in Romans
            – Chapter 3: Stoic Law in Paul?
            – Chapter 4: Jesus the Teacher and Stoic Ethics in the Gospel of Matthew

          • Steefen  August 20, 2018

            Seneca is a weak entry on my list.
            Posidonius of Apamea was an author I looked at but what’s published of his works is paltry.
            Musonius Rufus writes on the life of Stoics which is less important to me than the four chapters I listed in the book Stoicism in Early Christianity. If you have recommendations along those lines, let us know.

  2. fishician  August 17, 2018

    I’m curious. The Bible has been scrutinized and analyzed by scholars for centuries. Are other religious texts like the Koran studied in such depth, or in similar ways? I know your field is mainly the New Testament, but do you rub elbows with scholars of other ancient religious texts and exchange ideas with them?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      There are far, far fewer “critical” studies of the Qur’an. Most scholarship is by people who are deeply committed to it and refuse to subject it to historical critical analysis. I don’t know as much about other traditoins, outside of hte West.

      • DavidNeale  August 21, 2018

        This is interesting! I know almost nothing about it. I would guess that it is more of a binary question, since either the Qur’an was revealed wholesale to the Prophet by the Angel Gabriel or it wasn’t; it’s either of direct divine authorship or it isn’t. So presumably it wouldn’t be possible/coherent for a Muslim scholar to take the kind of historical-critical approach to the Qur’an that liberal Christian scholars take to the New Testament? But I don’t know, and would like to learn more.

        • Bart
          Bart  August 21, 2018

          My sense is that the sacrality surrounding the Qur’an makes it difficult for scholarship to offer historical-critical evaluations, comparable to those of the Christian Bible (where scholars regularly claim that the alledged authors did not write some of the books, that they narrate events that didn’t happen, and so on)

          • SidDhartha1953  August 23, 2018

            I consider it a “blessing” that the first interpreters of the Bible were not fundamentalists.

  3. prestonp  August 17, 2018

    “Alemin August 17, 2018
    @prestonp “if you earnestly wrote in a letter to Him or just said to Him, “Jesus, if You are real, if You really did rise from the dead, if You can hear me, show me!”, what do you think would happen?”

    How would Bart know that Jesus was responding, and not Satan tricking him?

    Also, prestonp, Mormons do this (kind of thing) all the time to check whether or not Mormonism is the true faith. Do you think those results are valid?”

    Good questions. Great questions. Well, let’s start by answering a different question. Who is God and what is He like, what is He really like?

    Here’s my best answer: Bart loved Him! Ehrman went nuts for Him. Bonkers. Talk about going all out! Holy cow. He was memorizing entire books of the New Testament for fun and in preparation to reach the entire world—with His Love (while he was a full time bible student.) That is what God is like.

    If we mean business, He’ll make sure we know it is He Himself. Sort of like, “ever fall in love? Big time?” You’ll know.

    Look at Jimmy Carter. Can you see the love of God in him? I can. God shines through that ole peanut farmer/nuclear submarine engineer/president/Camp David Accords Peacemaker.

    You know what’s hard? He loves us so much

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    • DavidNeale  August 21, 2018

      prestonp:

      “Also, prestonp, Mormons do this (kind of thing) all the time to check whether or not Mormonism is the true faith. Do you think those results are valid?”

      “Good questions. Great questions. Well, let’s start by answering a different question. Who is God and what is He like, what is He really like?

      “Here’s my best answer: Bart loved Him! Ehrman went nuts for Him. Bonkers. Talk about going all out! Holy cow. He was memorizing entire books of the New Testament for fun and in preparation to reach the entire world—with His Love (while he was a full time bible student.) That is what God is like.”

      And plenty of Mormons, Catholics, Muslims, Jews etc “go nuts” (your words, not mine) for their respective versions of God. Plenty of people of all faiths are passionate about their beliefs and dedicate their whole lives to those beliefs. They can’t all be right about who God is and what he is like. So why is the Protestant evangelical version of God more likely to be the correct one?

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  4. Rick
    Rick  August 17, 2018

    So I watched me wife work on her dissertation, finish and defend… Reminded me of The Agony snd the Ecstacy (movie). The part where Heston/Michelangelo keeps painting the Sistine Chapel and the Pope keeps asking “when will you make an end?”

  5. Robert
    Robert  August 17, 2018

    “Some are extremely hands on, to the point of working over every thought and every sentence. Not too many are like that, because if they were, they would never do anything else with their life. … Others basically don’t give a rip how the dissertation is coming along – they want to see it at the end, and when it’s done, they’ll tell the student whether it’s good enough or not. Others …”

    Brings back so many memories. The first time I met with my promoter, the very much beloved and ever so much more earnestly and intensely hated Frans Neirynck, I opened up my Greek New Testament to the verse in Mark’s passion narrative that I wanted to interpret in a brand new way … Before I got through half a sentence, he threw a copy of Crossan’s most recent book on The Cross that Spoke and said, ‘you should critique his source-critical theory; that could support my work on John and the Synoptics’. I promised to read the book and returned sheepishly several times to try and find a topic that was at least in some tangential way related to my own interests. Every time I met with him, it felt like the universe was spinning around his desk and I was hanging on with my life trying to understand what the hell was going on. In the end, we finally ended up on a topic that vaguely interested him and which I at least understood why it might be interesting to a couple of biblical nerds with nothing better to do. We didn’t so much agree on a topic as I was just afraid to enter the Einsteinian singularity vortex of his office again, lest the entire meaning and import of my life might be continually shaken and stirred until I no longer knew which way was up and my brain was black and blue from the concussive force of his singular staring presence. It wasn’t until quite a few years later that I realized that I had actually learned something valuable and truly original that no one else really cared about …

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      Wow. That is just the opposite of my approach with my students. I want them to work on whatever they are passionate about and try to help them come up with something new and creative as they pursue their own passions. My interests almost never have much of anything to do with it.

      • Robert
        Robert  August 21, 2018

        “Wow. That is just the opposite of my approach with my students. I want them to work on whatever they are passionate about and try to help them come up with something new and creative as they pursue their own passions. My interests almost never have much of anything to do with it.”

        Yeah. My impression at that time was that European academics in general, or perhaps especially some world-class Germanic (and Belgian) NT scholars, at least some of them, saw their doctoral students as quasi-employees and eventual representatives of their school of thought, over which they exercised a somewhat authoritarian role. I was soon glad that I abandoned my original dumb idea and in the end I learned a lot more by absorbing and adopting my promoter’s academic perspective to the extent that I was able, and this also made me eventually better able to critique that perspective as well.

  6. Cristian  August 17, 2018

    Dr. Bart, how were your comps before the dissertation?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      Intense! For the comps you study massively. For a time there, you know more about more things you are passionately intertested in, in depth, than at any time in your entire previous existence!

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  7. Liam Foley
    Liam Foley  August 18, 2018

    Thanks for sharing your dissertation process I found it very interesting. I also understand the need to narrowly focus on a topic/subject to obtain ones PhD. Once you’re PhD was obtained I’m sure you were able to broaden to some degree your topical focus in your professional life. I think your expertise does expand beyond Didymus the Blind. 🙂

    As an Historian of the New Testament and a Textual Critic did you self-impose a timeframe for the eras of Early Christianity and the topics within the that time period that you feel are within your area of expertise? For example, how far after the first or second century in Early Christianity do you feel your knowledge extends to and then starts to wane?

    I think I’ve asked the question correctly. 🙂

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      I do pretty well up to 250 CE; then up through Constantine. After that it is more work for me. I don’t really go past Theodosius I, unless I have to, and a lot of the fourth century is not in my comfort zone.

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  8. prestonp  August 18, 2018

    “The eyewitnesses to Jesus’s life were for the most part lower-class, illiterate, Aramaic-speaking peasants from rural Galilee.” Bart
    See Catherine Hezser

    “Pattycake1974 June 18, 2018
    In Dominic Crossan’s book, Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography, a carpenter was considered lower-class and illiterate. Their status was lower than a peasant.”

    “Pattycake1974 June 23, 2018
    I’ve read most of Hezser’s book now, and there’s basically zero chance that Jesus learned to read or write growing up in Nazareth. hear. I don’t know!”

    Bart, would you agree that the following information challenges the position you hold regarding widespread illiteracy in the immediate region in which Christ grew up?

    “Under the sympathetic regent Salome Alexandra, they *(the Pharisees) pioneered universal education for boys, and marriage contracts that Jews still use.”

    The Origins of Business, Money, and Markets
    By Keith Robert

    She managed to secure Pharisaic support for the continued Hasmonean monarchy and again brought the Pharisees to prominence in government. She is credited with helping them to lay the foundations of nationwide educational and judicial reform

    Education was also placed in the hands of Pharisaic teachers. A major result of this reform was not only an increase in literacy and religious knowledge among the young, but also a broadening of the Jewish sense of scriptural authority.

    New World Encyclopedia

    Queen Salome Alexandra ruled ancient Judea in the turbulent century before the birth of Jesus. She led troops, introduced universal education, expanded the rights of women, and brought healing to a nation

    Queen Of The Jews
    Judy Petson

    * my edit

    • prestonp  August 20, 2018

      No response?

      Bart, would you agree that the following information challenges the position you hold regarding widespread illiteracy in the immediate region in which Christ grew up?

      I have asked other questions that were left unanswered.

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      • Bart
        Bart  August 20, 2018

        Sorry, your question was buried in the midst of other things — I suppose that’s usually the problem. But no, the answer is no. Read Hezser instead of simply picking stuff excerpted on the internet.

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    • Pattycake1974
      Pattycake1974  August 20, 2018

      A while back you said to scroll on by your comments which I’ve done and will continue to do as long as your comments don’t involve me. I don’t know what your intention is by quoting me, but just because I think Jesus may have been illiterate doesn’t mean I believe he was dumb. I happen to think Jesus was educated through oral tradition/learning (ex. parables) which was considered a superior form of education in the first century.

      Information from the internet pales in comparison to a book of scholarship like Hezser’s.

  9. prestonp  August 18, 2018

    A few scattered thoughts linking icorrectly interpreted scripture:

    The first difficulty with Ehrman’s interpretation is that the word agrammatos does not necessarily imply that Peter and John were illiterate. In the context of the Jewish council, agrammatos likely meant “untrained in the Jewish law.” If this is the case, the council members were pointing out that, despite their boldness in interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures, Peter and John had not been schooled as rabbis.”

    It seems to me they were not illiterate boobs. Though that’s how apparently they perceived them at first, they realized it wasn’t true. I think that’s the whole point here.

    I don’t understand Acts 6:8 thru 7:60. Steve doesn’t get to finish condemning the religious hierarchy (My opinion is that it was not the Jews per se who acted particularly poorly at that time. Any one, and any group could/would have done what they did. It is man’s condition, not the Jews. for their historical mistreatment of God’s prophets, which should climax in their execution of Christ.. Before he gets that far, they rock him. He was seized allegedly for threats to the temple and badmouthing Moe and GOD. Not until Ch 8;1 is there a possible tie-in to Jesus. That’s when the eruption of door-to-door invasions of individual Christian’s homes to destroy the church begins. Had the Sanhedrin reached its boiling point and they already knew where Steve was going?
    Kind of interesting. We’ve recently discovered that no one remembers practically anything, but here Steve is giving the standard and accurate spiel about Israel’s history. (Even I can remember how it goes, sort of).
    Steve is a martyr with cahonies. He sticks his Jesus in their faces, or he tries to. Why did he die for a story he was making up on the spot? The N.T. wasn’t around yet. The Sanheds even knew where the story ended, it seems to me, and cut him off at the pass. This took place before the comedy of errors of the “phone game” got off the ground. Why? What was Steve thinking and had the Sand boys forgotten Gamaliel’s words of wisdom?

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    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      No, agrammatos definitely does not mean untrained in the Jewish law. It means “unlettered,” that is, someone who does not know the alphabet, one who cannot read.

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  10. BryanS  August 18, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman, I believe you mentioned in a past post that Dr. Metzger accepted Pauline authorship for all thirteen works traditionally attributed to Paul (including the pastorals?). What is your insight regarding his basis for that opinion? I was a bit surprised when I read your comment since I thought there was a scholarly consensus leaning against all the works being genuine (at least outside evangelical/fundamentalist scholarship). Do any of Dr. Metzger’s publications offer a defense of his views regarding Pauline authorship? Thanks.

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      My sense is that the matter was very simple. He was raised in an extremely conservative Christian environment, and he was not willing to change his established beliefs unless there was massively overwhelming evidence. He thought the evidence was too strong to think Peter wrote 2 Peter, but he did not think there were compelling reasons to reject the Pauline authorship of the Pastorals.

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  11. forthfading  August 18, 2018

    Dr. Ehrman,

    So do you feel that Dr. Metzger was your true dissertation chair and Dr. Adams just helped get through the red tape of Princeton’s retirement rule? Or do you feel that both deserve the honor, kinda 50/50?

    I really enjoy the post you do reflecting on your early days as a scholar. Thanks for giving us a glance into your personal story.

    Cheers

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      In many ways David Adams was the most influential of all the teachers I ever had; but he was not an expert in textual criticism, so for the dissertation Metzger really was the main figure for me.

  12. prestonp  August 18, 2018

    “As I will point out in the next chapter, there is not a solitary reference to Jesus or his followers in pagan literature of any kind during the first century of the Common Era.” B

    Well, that’s okay. For some reason despite not being written about by pagans, whoever it was who did write about Him had a lot to say. It turns out He was written about in the first century like no other person in the history of the world. Pagan or not, they sure had a great deal to communicate about this cat with the whole world including the very words He spoke. Keep in mind as you become acquainted with how poor our memory’s work, that these guys deliberately went to work immediately to study, to discuss, to memorize, and probably to record everything they could concerning this One Who captivated their lives.

    Fortunately, just decades before Christ was born, according to author Judy Petsonk, Queen of Judea Salome Alexandra instituted a policy of universal education and therefore we safely can assume Jesus and other non-privileged youth from that area did in fact know how to read and to write.

    “What, though, did Christians tell people in order to convert them? Our evidence here is frustratingly sparse…” B

    How about something like this: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say…” And Pete preached the gospel and 3 K converted. The whole gang went about preaching the gospel everywhere they went, even risking their lives.  

    By the end of chapter two in Acts we are informed that the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Well now what “teaching” is it, we have to ask? Were they learning about the things the Lord said and did and how to understand all those kinds of things? I would be willing to bet that some one even had the bright idea to write down what they were being taught. For these reasons and others it seems perfectly clear that the contents of the N.T. were actually under construction while He was alive and during the initial days of the formation of His Church.

    Bear in mind these guys risked their very lives to convince us that Christ was God.

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  13. Franz Liszt  August 18, 2018

    Bart, I’ve recently been part of a conversation where it has been claimed that the Greek of 1 Clement 5 is unclear about whether or not Paul and Peter actually were executed. Specifically, it is claimed that “persecuted unto death” means “faced opposition until they died” (i.e. not a cause of their death) and that the ‘martyr’ root verbs did not yet have a connotation of execution in the 90’s. I was just hoping if you could give your quick take on these two specific claims (just a yes or no), and then also if you agree that the Greek is unclear.

    Thanks

    • Bart
      Bart  August 19, 2018

      v. 2 says “they struggled in the contest even to death.” I think that has to mean they were martyred for their faith.

  14. prestonp  August 19, 2018

    “He wanted Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, even though he knew he came from Nazareth … there is a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Micah that a savior would come from Bethlehem. What were these Gospel writer to do with the fact that it was widely known that Jesus came from Nazareth? They had to come up with a narrative that explained how he came from Nazareth, in Galilee…” B

    What were they to do with the fact that it was widely understood that the Messiah would be a big time conquering tough guy, who would restore Israel with a final battle, when, after all, Jesus ended up dumped in a common grave for running His mouth? What were the writers to do with the fact that Jesus couldn’t do miraculous stuff? The fact that He never rose from the dead? That He wasn’t supposed to die? That He wasn’t born of a virgin? That He wasn’t divine? 50 years later I guess they took their chances that nobody would follow up and check on the facts. But, then, why would they bother to toss in the Nazareth bull? 50 years later it would be widely understood that Jesus was from Nazareth? but nobody would know Nick wasn’t a Pharisee? or that Joe of Arimathea didn’t exist? or that Arimathea wasn’t a real place?

    These boys sure had their work cut out for them! Almost everything they wrote was bologna. They had to twist, tweek, add to, create and subtract a slew of stuff for this apocalyptic nut-job to become the Messiah, all the while they were living under the constant threat of violence, with no known motives to engage in this looney toon cartoon in the first place. Thufferin thuccotash! Makes sense though don’t it? Not only that, what they wrote became the most popular, the widest sold book in the world and the foundation upon which Western civilization evolved. Not too shabby.

    I would think that there had to have been an editor-in-chief/publisher of sorts to edit for consistency, you know, proofread and all, because the writers had to figure that other guys were trying to sell a similar product. Their stories couldn’t vary too much or they’d lose credibility. Who was in charge, I wonder?

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    • Silver  August 21, 2018

      Prestonp – dated/written 19 August in Blog comments for 17 August.
      “These boys sure had their work cut out for them! Almost everything they wrote was bologna. They had to twist, tweek, add to, create and subtract a slew of stuff for this apocalyptic nut-job to become the Messiah, all the while they were living under the constant threat of violence, with no known motives to engage in this looney toon cartoon in the first place. Thufferin thuccotash! Makes sense though don’t it? Not only that, what they wrote became the most popular, the widest sold book in the world and the foundation upon which Western civilization evolved. Not too shabby.”

      I find it very difficult (perhaps because I’m a Brit) to understand your ‘folksy’ way of writing. If you are making a serious point it gets lost in such phrases as ‘nut-job’ and ‘looney toon cartoon’ and ‘Thufferin thuccotash!’ (I could give examples from other posts too). I would be able to give more consideration to your arguments if you felt able to restrict yourself to a different, more succint way of expressing yourself.

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      • prestonp  August 21, 2018

        “He wanted Jesus to be born in Bethlehem, even though he knew he came from Nazareth … there is a prophecy in the Old Testament book of Micah that a savior would come from Bethlehem. What were these Gospel writer to do with the fact that it was widely known that Jesus came from Nazareth? They had to come up with a narrative that explained how he came from Nazareth, in Galilee…” B

        Sorry. That’s the best I can do. I am like the writers of the N.T. When they had to fix something because it didn’t fit the story they were selling, they made up stuff to get around those little obstacles. I quote Bart above. What were the writers to do to get this Jesus guy to conform to prophecies from the O.T. when they knew He wasn’t from Nazareth? You make up stuff. Simple.
        Not bad, huh? And if the theories of scholars don’t exactly line up quite right, they can always say that the N.T. writers fibbed a little. It is a wonderful way to get what you want. And it is not lying! Heaven forbid! We would never say the writers of the N.T. LIED! (People might get pissed!) No, they cleverly engineered truth structural problems to convey the phone game message accurately

        • prestonp  August 22, 2018

          BTW, Bart, did you ban one of my comments where I challenged your statement about fairness AND delete the example I used with your and Siddhartha1953’s comments I quoted? You confirm his negative assertion about me and you agree that my 25 bucks contribution to your charity kind of makes my membership tolerable. I haven’t found another example of you being “fair” like that anywhere else. I have had a number of comments banned recently without any explanation and I haven’t received any “make up” comments for them. Is banning comments that provide evidence that you are not treating everyone the way you say that you do, forbidden?

          I don’t think so.

          I know garytheman wasn’t blocked from offering criticism:
          July 18, 2018
          “Your comment is appalling. I would have thought as a teacher you would respect others’ ideas. Isn’t that why we go to college to learn yet also be able to express our concepts? At least when I went to college and seminary we would ask to express and if we disagreed then we would discuss and eventually come to the right conclusion. Professors are learned men and respected but they have their own opinion.”

          and again,
          garytheman July 18, 2018
          Bart, “Your comment is absolutely rude. Bruce Metzger would be turning over in his grave to read what you write. He was brilliant and highly respected man of all times. You discredit his name”

          Or on March 10, 2016
          “Why in your debates do you always take the negative side? Dr. Wallace for one has to debate you on substantiating the critically acclaimed conservative Christian aspect–the belief that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and even though there are slight discrepancies none of them are so relevant that you have to tear apart what the majority of Christians believe.” garytheman

          You said the information we discuss here is very, very important. You ain’t kiddin bro. In fact, I believe the material and the subjects we discuss, debate, question have eternal ramifications and we better get this thing right.

          I want to know where I’m wrong. Truth is my pursuit. The Christian Life is way too strenuous, WAY TOO strenuous for someone as prone to all things rotten, evil, disgusting, horrible and depraved as yours truly. So far, no one has provided me with a single solitary reason why He isn’t worth it. But, I’m open.

          .

          • Bart
            Bart  August 22, 2018

            Yes, I am banning all comments that are simply testimonies to personal religious beliefs, especially when they appear to have a clear proselytizing intent. You are welcome on occasion to say what you think, as others on the blog do, but not to try to push your own religious views on others. That simply is not the purpose or intent of this blog.

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  15. mtelus  August 19, 2018

    What would be your approach to supervising a dissertation?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 20, 2018

      In terms of guiding students in what they actually want to write, I focus on two points: What they are most passionate about and what will most help them be competitive for a teaching position when they are finished. I give lots of feedback along the way of writing, but almost never tell them what to write or how to write it.

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  16. tcroberts02  August 20, 2018

    Did Dr. Metzger publish any books suitable for general readers, like those of us on the blog? If yes, will you identify them?

    • Bart
      Bart  August 20, 2018

      He has a book on the interpretation of Revelation called Breaking the Code. And he edited the Readers Digest Bible. Other than that, I can’t thin kof anything.

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