The Need for Context

I AM NOW REVISING THE NEW TESTAMENT PORTION OF MY BIBLE INTRODUCTION, AND THOUGHT THAT SOME OF THE SECTIONS IN IT MAY BE OF BROADER INTEREST. AND SO I WILL POST A FEW OF (WHAT STRIKE ME AS) THE MORE INTERESTING PARTS HERE ON THE BLOG OVER THE NEXT WEEK OR SO.

THE FOLLOWING IS HOW I BEGIN THIS SECOND SECTION. BEFORE THIS PORTION ARE AN OPENING EIGHT CHAPTERS DEVOTED TO THE HEBREW BIBLE. THEN THERE IS THIS TRANSITIONAL CHAPTER, ...

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Questions on Jesus’ Language and on the Crucifixion

QUESTIONS:

If Jesus could not speak Latin, he must have communicated with the Romans in Aramaic. Was it common for Romans, at least of a certain class, to speak Aramaic? If not, how could Jesus have communicated with, for example, Pontius Pilate? Perhaps through a translator?

Also, are there any sources I can consult regarding my question on the crucifixion? Wikipedia does not address this issue and you yourself have stated that you believe it was a small public ceremony which coincides ...

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Ancient Secretaries (Part 1)

I have received some comments and emails about my claims about Silvanus as a secretary (or rather, NOT as a secretary) for the book of 1 Peter, and realized it would help if I could give some more detail about what we know about secretaries in the ancient world. The following is from an excursus in my forthcoming Forgery and Counterforgery; it will come in two parts, the first today and the second, hopefully, tomorrow. If you’ve read ...

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Forgery and Deceived Deceivers

I mentioned in my previous blog that I am reading through the page proofs of my scholarly book Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. And I suggested that I might give a few extracts to give some idea of what the book looks like. Much of the book is hard hitting scholarship that only inveterate philologists could love (or like). I can give a taste in later posts, if anyone’s interested. But ...

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The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men

Another tidbit from my Bible Introduction.  Old news for a lot of you, I know.  But it’s fun to write this kind of thing up for college students, who have never heard of such a thing!

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One of the most mysterious and even bizarre stories in Genesis happens right at the beginning of the flood narrative, where we are told that the “sons of God” looked down among the human “daughters,” saw that they were beautiful, and came down and had ...

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Q & A with Ben Witherington: Part 8

CONTINUATION!   Ben Witherington, a conservative evangelical Christian New Testament scholar, has asked me to respond to a number of questions about my book Did Jesus Exist, especially in light of criticism I have received for it (not, for the most part, from committed Christians!).   His blog is widely read by conservative evangelicals, and he has agreed to post the questions and my answers without editing, to give his readers a sense of why I wrote the book, what I ...

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Q & A with Ben Witherington: Part 7

CONTINUATION! Ben Witherington, a conservative evangelical Christian New Testament scholar, has asked me to respond to a number of questions about my book Did Jesus Exist, especially in light of criticism I have received for it (not, for the most part, from committed Christians!). His blog is widely read by conservative evangelicals, and he has agreed to post the questions and my answers without editing, to give his readers a sense of why I wrote the book, what ...

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Why Did Christianity Succeed?

QUESTION:

What I have been wondering lately is “why” did Christianity win out. There seemed to be much competition in the ancient world between the pagan polytheisms and monotheistic religions. Competition not only between the Jewish religion and Christian religion but within Christianity.

I would be interested in why you think the current version of Christianity won out. Was it purely a matter of cultural evolution and this form of Christianity seemed to benefit people the most, easiest to adhere to, most ...

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