Heaven and Hell in a Nutshell

This post is free for anyone who wants to look.  Every week on the blog I post five times, dealing with all sorts of issues connected with the New Testament and early Christianity.  Interested?  Why not join?  It doesn’t cost much, you get tons for your money, and every nickel you pay goes to deserving charities.

 

I’m excited about my next book, being published on March 31, Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife.   It’s already getting good ...

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An Older Manuscript Controversy about the Dead Sea Scrolls

I’ve been thinking about controversies over ancient Christian and Jewish manuscripts lately, in connection with the (false) claim that a First Century copy of Mark had been discovered.  Browsing around on the blog I saw that I dealt with a completely different manuscript controversy on the blog many years ago, involving the Dead Sea Scrolls.

I had forgotten all about it.  This one involved a court case and jail time!   Here’s what I said:

 

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A few years ago I was ...

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Are Same-Sex Relations Condemned in the Old Testament?

When people want to show that the Bible condemns same-sex relations – either to justify depriving LGBTQ people of civil rights, to condemn them morally, to preclude them from serving in church offices, or even to participate at all in faith communities (or for any other reason) – there are a few passages that typically get cited, usually with vigor.

I should stress that there are only a few passages that get cited, since out of the entire Bible – thirty-nine ...

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Why Women Are To Be Subservient to Men

This past Friday I gave a talk at a Pride Event in Chapel Hill, in connection with our Homecoming for alumni interested in LGBTQ issues (we beat Duke the next day in one of the weirdest final five minutes of a football game I’ve ever seen).   The title of the talk was “Sex and Gender in the Bible” and the overarching questions were “what does the Bible actually say?” and “how much of it is relevant to a modern situation?”

The ...

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Who Wrote the Pentateuch? The JEDP Hypothesis

In response to my recent posts about the historical accuracy of the Hebrew Bible, especially in the opening five books, the “Pentateuch” (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) I have had several members of the blog ask about the “Documentary Hypothesis” which postulates that one reason for the discrepancies is that whoever published these five books was not a single author (Moses or anyone else) but an editor who combined earlier sources of information together, without smoothing out their differences.

Like ...

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If the Old Testament is Not Accurate — Where Did Israel Come From?

Yesterday I argued that the Old Testament account found of the “Conquest of Canaan,” as found in the book of Joshua, cannot be historically accurate.  This is one of those matters that matter.   As we all know full well, the dispute over the land has been going on for millennia, and continues to create trauma and disaster, war and suffering, all the time — no matter which side you stand on.  And please, in your comments, do not make polemical ...

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Did The Israelites Really Conquer Canaan?

A couple of weeks ago I was in the middle of a thread on historical problems with the Hebrew Bible, and somehow ancient forgery intervened — as it does, I suppose — and I got sidetracked.  But I have a couple of more posts on the topic, that are complete “stand-alones” (you don’t need to see what I earlier said to make sense of these) (though hey, why not take a glance?).

In this post: after the exodus in ...

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Did the Exodus Happen?

In response to a question from years ago about the problems posed to critical scholars by the Hebrew Bible I have so far provided two posts, one involving the surviving manuscripts (do we know what the authors originally said?) and the other with apparent discrepancies (where accounts appear to be at odds with one another).   I will now provide a couple of posts dealing with the equally big problem that the Hebrew Bible narrates events that probably did not ...

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Now: Literary Inconsistencies in the Old Testament

Yesterday I started answering a question about whether the problems in the Hebrew Bible were as significant as those in the New Testament, and my response was: Yes! Even more so! In yesterday’s post I talked about the problem with the manuscripts. In this post I’ll talk about internal discrepancies and contradictions. Rather than write the whole thing out, though, I’ve decided just to include a chunk that deals with the issue from my Introduction to the Bible, as ...

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What About the Original *Old* Testament?

Recently several readers have asked me about the manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible; I talk a lot about the New Testament on the blog, but what about the Old Testament?  Are there problems there too?

Short answer, yes indeed.  I’d say!   Here’s how I dealt with this in a post long ago, back in the days of my youth.  Only one thing is different.  I don’t read from the Hebrew Bible every morning any more.  I’ve gotten obsessed with classical Latin!  ...

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