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Do you OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW want a free one-year subscription to the blog (because, for various reasons, you, or the one you know, cannot afford it)?   I STILL HAVE FREE MEMBERSHIPS TO GIVE OUT.   Please ask or encourage someone you know to ask.

Here is the original announcement from a couple of weeks ago, with instructions about how to obtain one.



Thanks to the incredible generosity of members of the blog, I am happy to announce that there are a limited number of free one-year memberships available.   These have been donated for a single purpose: to allow those who cannot afford the annual membership fee to participate on the blog for a year.   I will assign these memberships strictly on the honor system: if you truly cannot afford the membership fee, but very much want to have full access to the blog, then please contact me.

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My Pod Cast Interview with Sam Harris
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  1. Avatar
    Gary  January 3, 2019

    Another off topic question:

    I try to keep up with conservative Christian publications and scholarship regarding one of their most important claims: the eyewitness authorship of the Gospels (even though the overwhelming majority of scholars reject that claim). The newest book on this topic, touted on many conservative Christian blogs, is Peter Williams’ “Can We Trust the Gospels?”. One interesting point that William makes is that if the Gospels were written by non-eyewitnesses in far away lands, how were they able to give so much accurate information regarding the geography of Palestine? He includes a long list of cities, small towns, and even villages mentioned in the Gospels which historians say did exist. This is what he says about this fact:

    Three conclusions naturally follow:

    -The writers either were acquainted with the land themselves or accurately recorded what was reported by others who were acquainted with the land.
    -The information the writers had is consistent with what we would expect if the Gospels were by their traditional authors.
    -The resulting Gospels are not what we would expect from people who made up stories at a geographical distance.


    I know that most scholars believe that Mark contains geographical errors, but the authors still would have had to have known a lot of detail about Palestine to include all the minutia which they did, such as describing a trip to Jerusalem from Galilee or Jericho as “going up” to Jerusalem because of the city’s high elevation. What do you think? Where did they get all this detail if the Gospels were written by Gentile non-eyewitnesses, in lands far away, one or more generations removed from the original disciples, as most scholars believe?

    • Bart
      Bart  January 4, 2019

      I like Peter Williams very much, but I did not find the book to be at all convincing. Put it this way. Suppose an author in San Francisco who had never been to NYC wrote a novel that took place in it. If he mentioned the Empire State Building, the Brooklyn Bridge, Yankee Stadium, the subway, and the financial disctrict — would that mean (a) he must have been there and (b) the story he tells adn the characters in it are necessarily historically accurate? (Remember, it’s a novel!)

      • Robert
        Robert  January 4, 2019

        I would also consider the thesis of Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce, which you’ve talked about a couple of times here, to more fully how place names came to be associated with various tradition streams.


        • Bart
          Bart  January 6, 2019

          Yes, I posted on this very point when I read their book (working on my Italian!)

      • Avatar
        Gary  January 4, 2019

        Very true, but an author writing today has access to massive quantities of books and other literature about New York City. What sources about Palestine did the first century authors of the Gospels have? Certainly they could name Jerusalem, the Jordan River, and the Temple without knowing anything about Judea and Galilee, but how did they know so many names of cities, towns, rivers, seasonal creek beds (the Kidron), etc.? Did they get all of this minutia from the Hebrew Bible (OT)? Williams points out that later non-canonical Gospels have very sparse geographical details, which is what we would expect of someone writing about a place he is not familiar with.

        He also points to Bauckham’s research on first century Jewish names in Palestine compared to the Diaspora and that the Gospels authors’ use of names is consistent with this pattern. What is your opinion of this research?

        • Bart
          Bart  January 6, 2019

          Yes, that’s true. But all you need to do is talk to a pilgrim who once went to Jerusalem to know something about the walls, and the structure of the Temple, and the Antonio palace, and so on. Without lots of books, there still was a whole lot of talking adn the circulation of oral traditions. I think Bauckham’s book is highly problematic for all sorts of reasons and in all sorts of ways; my book Jesus Before the Gospels is a kind of refutation of it. (Even though he does make *some* very interetng points)

        • Avatar
          Gary  January 6, 2019

          Is it possible that the authors of the Gospels got their geographical information about Palestine from the Old Testament? How accessible was the Hebrew Bible in the wider Roman world in the first century?

          • Bart
            Bart  January 7, 2019

            Yes, they certainly did (in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible). But a number of the places they mention can’t be found there.

  2. Avatar
    mikezamjara  January 4, 2019

    Hi Dr Ehrman I am glad to pay in order to help your fundation, your blog is worth every penny. I am interested in the book of revelations. Would you recommend me any book or work about it?. Another question is: What is the right name of that book, Revelations or Apocalypse of John?

    • Bart
      Bart  January 4, 2019

      Two names for it: Revelation (no “s” on the end) or the Apocalypse. Either term could include “of John.” For a beginning overview, you might try reading Bruce Metzger’s Breaking the Code.

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