Sorting by

×

“The Case for Christ”? The New Testament Review Podcast

The case for Christ.  Here now is the second guest post by Duke Ph.D. students Ian Mills and Laura Robinson, dealing with their podcast  New Testament Review.   In this one, they describe one of their more unusual podcasts.  As you'll see, they deal with extremely interesting material for anyone interested in real scholarship on early Christianity-- as opposed to the (often very popular) books by people who don't know or understand scholarship but try to denigrate it in order to "prove" their own sectarian views.   Blog Post #2 New Testament Review on Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ As outlined in our last post, the New Testament Review podcast is dedicated to summarizing influential pieces of New Testament scholarship and their reception in the field. Every work we cover has transformed how later scholarship treats a specific topic or text. Every work, that is, except one. On April 1st, 2019, we released an episode with the title, “Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ.” Lee Strobel is a former journalist turned evangelical Christian apologist. His [...]

2022-06-12T22:40:22-04:00August 19th, 2020|History of Biblical Scholarship, Public Forum|

A Podcast of Interest to You! Guest post by Ian Mills and Laura Robinson

If you are interested in learning more about scholarship on the New Testament, but at a lay person's level, this is the post for you!  It is about a podcast that might be (probably is) right up your alley, set up and run by two graduate students from Duke University who have worked with me over the past few years. One of the real pleasures of teaching graduate students in New Testament/early Christianity at UNC is that Duke is just ten miles away, with its own graduate program.  The New Testament program at Duke program in New Testament has a different focus from ours here at at UNC.  To put it in the most simple terms, at UNC we have a more historically-focused approach and at Duke they have a more interpretation-focused approach.   Of course, you can't do one without the other.  But I tend to teach historical topics to our students, with interpretation of texts as part of what we do; many of their classes are more focused on interpretation with history as the [...]

2020-08-14T15:25:05-04:00August 14th, 2020|History of Biblical Scholarship, Public Forum|

Proving the Bible Is True: The Museum of the Bible. Guest Post by Cavan Concannon

Here now is the second of three posts on the Museum of the Bible, this one by Cavan Concannon, one of the editors of the newly released volume, The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction.  One of the most amazing lines in this post is the claim made by a representative of the museum that: "The Bible has been carefully transmitted through time."   Wow!  OK then....   You gotta wonder what this fellow (whom Cavan quotes) is thinking....    What I myself am thinking is that he has a different definition of "carefully" from me.... Again, Cavan will be happy to respond to your comments. - Cavan Concannon is the editor of The Museum of the Bible: A Critical Introduction, and the author of Assembling Early Christianity and Profaning Paul, among other works. **********************************************************   Proving the Bible: Archaeology, Objects, and Evangelical Theology at the Museum of the Bible By Cavan Concannon   The Museum of the Bible (MOTB) is no stranger to scandal. In our previous post, we described how, in their quest for [...]

2021-04-19T23:39:31-04:00July 17th, 2020|Book Discussions, History of Biblical Scholarship|

Are Bible Translators Consistent? Readers’ Mailbag

In today’s Reader’s Mailbag I deal with a question that involves both the differences in the manuscripts of the New Testament AND the issue of English Bible translations.  As many of you know, almost all scholars agree that passages such as the “Woman Taken in Adultery,” in John 7:53-8:11 and the last twelve verses of Mark (Jesus’ appearances to his disciples after the resurrection) were not original to the New Testament.  (If you’re not familiar with this issue, see my book Misquoting Jesus and/or do word searches to find discussions on the blog).   And yet most modern Bibles continue to include them, even if they put them in brackets with a footnote saying that they are missing from the best manuscripts we have. But why aren’t translators consistent in applying this rule: keeping verses they know are not original with footnotes?  Why  in other, analogous cases, do they more often remove the passages completely and put them in the notes? It’s a great question:  here is how the reader phrased it, with very helpful examples. [...]

Was There One Author Behind the Four Johannine Writings? A Community? Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

We continue now with the third of Hugo Mendez's guest posts on the "community" allegedly behind the Gospel of John, 1, 2, and 3 John.   Here he shows why most critical scholars do NOT think (as most other interested human beings on the planet do!) that all four were written by the same person (let alone Jesus' disciple, John the Son of Zebedee), and why they have argued that instead they all come from like-minded authors from the same community. But when he gets to the end he indicates why there is a flaw in this reasoning.  This post is an excellent example of solid scholarship with an unexpected ZINGER at the end! Hugo will be happy to respond to your comments, and he has certainly set up the next post.  (If you have time, go ahead and read the three letters; they are very short and it's a fast read.  But they have an importance far beyond what you might expect from their size) Why Scholars Haven’t Given Up on the Johannine Community (Yet) [...]

Were the Gospels Generally Written for “Communities” of Christians: Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

Here now is Hugo Mendez’s second post in his thread (started yesterday, if you haven’t seen it yet), challenging whether the writings of John all emerge from a specific “community,” as I argued in my previous thread.  In this post he points out how scholars have called into question whether the idea of "communities” is helpful at all for understanding the early Gospels. Hugo will be happy to address your questions!  Just post yours as a comment to the post. ***************************************************************  Challenges to the Idea of “Gospel Communities” As I noted last time, my most recent article questions the existence of the Johannine Community. There’s an early tendency when some hear of my project to confuse it with some other recent attempts to challenge the idea of “gospel communities.” Before discussing the terms of my own proposal, then, I’d like to catch you all up to speed with the current state of that debate over “communities” and where I “fit” into this discussion Today, New Testament scholars seem to fall into one of roughly three [...]

WAS there a Community behind the Gospel and Letters of John? Guest Post by Hugo Mendez

Here we begin a series of posts written by my colleague at UNC, Hugo Mendez.   Hugo has had an intriguing and impressive career.  He did an MA in Religion at University of Georgia, but then his PhD was in Linguistics, also at Georgia.  He went from there onto a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale and “retooled” to become a New Testament scholar through some, well, incredibly intense study.  He came to UNC as a postdoctoral fellow in 2016 for two years, after which we were fortunate to hire him as an assistant professor on tenure track. Hugo’s skills are remarkably wide-ranging.  He knows far more ancient languages than I do (on his CV he lists:  Indo-European: Ancient Greek, Latin, Classical Armenian, Gothic, Old Church Slavic, Sanskrit (Classical, Vedic). Aramaic (Biblical Aramaic, Classical Syriac), Classical Hebrew, and Akkadian.   Really.  OK then. If you’re interested in checking out his C.V. (hey, is this guy qualified?  J ), it is here:   https://religion.unc.edu/files/2020/05/CV_2020_Mendez_abbr.pdf Hugo has just started his publishing career, and is doing so with a bang.  One of [...]

Did Paul Write Colossians? According to Most Scholars No – Paul did Not Write Colossians

Did Paul write Colossians? Asking and answering questions like this every now and then is useful on the blog to shift gears away from explaining at a more popular level what scholars have come to think -  to showing how scholars make their arguments to one *another*.  I don't want to do this a lot, but it seems that it can be helpful at times, just so blog readers can get a bit of a sense. Right now I'm in them middle of a thread on whether the author of Luke was really "Luke the gentile physician," one of Paul's traveling companions.  The only reason for thinking such a person even existed (a gentile doctor named Luke) is that he is mentioned by Paul in Colossians. In my previous post I explained why the majority of critical scholars don't think Paul actually wrote Colossians (so that the historical Paul does *not* mention this person). The post was written for a general audience, and a number of people raised questions about it.  So here is how [...]

Final Tribute To Larry Hurtado

I am sorry to report that my colleague Larry Hurtado, a well-known scholar of the New Testament, author of several influential books, and prominent blogger, has died.    Back in July I indicated on the blog that he had become very ill.  At the time we thought he had only a few weeks to live.  But he soldiered on, and passed away last Monday, November 25. There is a very nice tribute to him by one of his former students at:  https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2019/november/died-larry-hurtado-new-testament-early-christian-worship.html I decided to repost here what I said in July, both as a tribute to him and to suggest several of his books that you might be interested in reading.  Larry was about ten years ahead of me in the field, and had very similar interests to mine, from textual criticism (studying ancient Greek manuscripts) to Christology (understanding how Jesus came to be worshiped as God).    A couple of his books are highly technical (as I indicate below); others are completely accessible to the non-academic.  You may want to check them out. [...]

Is the Bible Inerrant? Guest Post by Mike Licona

This now is the second of three posts by Mike Licona, Associate Professor of Theology at Houston Baptist University.  Mike has a PhD in New Testament studies and is a committed evangelical apologist, who has written a recent book, Why Are There Differences in the Gospels (Oxford University Press, 2016). He does indeed admit there are differences in the Gospels, which some people would claim are actually contradictions; but he continues to believe the Bible is "inerrant."  What does he mean then?  In this clear and lucid post, he explains his views. NOTE: Mike's first post generated lots of comments, and it was a bit overwhelming.   He will be willing to answer questions/comments over the next four days, but not afterward.  That in itself is amazingly generous.  Please don't ask tons of questions in one comment -- that (I can say from experience) is hard to deal with!   Moreover, he and I both know that many people on the blog have a different perspective from his.  But please be respectful and courteous, even in your [...]

2021-02-13T01:05:29-05:00December 2nd, 2019|Canonical Gospels, History of Biblical Scholarship|

How Many Books in the New Testament Were Forged?

In response to the lecture on ancient practices of pseudepigraphy (writing in the name of a famous person when, alas, you are actually someone else), I received this important question, getting to the very basics – the heart and soul of the issue for students of early Christianity. QUESTION: Dr. Ehrman, I know you have published and spoken on the topic, but would you mind sharing which NT books are pseudepigraphical? RESPONSE Yes indeed, one of the reasons I’m so interested in this topic is that the use of pseudepigraphy, what today we would call “forgery,” was so much more widespread in antiquity than today, probably because there were far fewer people who were literate in the first place and so far fewer experts who could uncover a forgery; and those who could, of course, didn’t have our modern methods of analysis and technologies of data retrieval. It was very common in the Christian world as well.  Before answering the question directly at the end of this post, let me just say something about how [...]

My Lecture in Quebec: Did Ancient Authors Try To Deceive Their Readers?

I have decided to go ahead and post the address I gave last week to an academic conference in Quebec on "Pseudepigraphy" in the ancient world.  If you're not familiar with the term (why would you be??) it refers to a book written by an author who falsely claims to be someone else (like if I wrote a book and claimed to be Stephen King) (which maybe I should do....).   Most scholars seem to think this was an acceptable practice in the ancient world.  I don't.  My lecture was meant to show why. This will take about four posts.  Here's the beginning of the lecture (it came as the keynote at the end of two days of meetings/papers).  In the post itself I have translated the foreign language terms I use. *************************************************************************************** Over the past three days we have enjoyed a wide range of papers on numerous important texts, specific instantiations of ancient pseudepigraphy.  In this final address I will not be discussing a specific text but rather the broader phenomenon of pseudepigraphy itself, with [...]

Sad News From Larry Hurtado

Many readers on the blog will know of Larry Hurtado, a prominent New Testament scholar who has been influential as one of the most regular and reliable bloggers on issues of relevance to the study of early Christianity.   Larry has announced that he is very ill and will no longer be able to participate in either scholarship or the promotion of early Christians studies to a broader reading audience.  This is very sad, especially for us who know him.  (I will give his announcement about his illness and the prospects at the end of this post.) I have known Larry for over thirty years.  He started out as a New Testament textual critic, with his first book a published version of his dissertation: Hurtado, Larry W. (1981). Text-Critical Methodology and the Pre-Caesarean Text: Codex W in the Gospel of Mark. Studies and Documents. 43. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.  It's not something you will want to try to reading, unless you're an expert on Greek and the Greek manuscript tradition of the NT.  Trust me.  But I used [...]

2019-07-10T05:01:47-04:00July 10th, 2019|History of Biblical Scholarship, Public Forum|

The Legality, Morality, and Scandal of Acquiring Ancient Manuscripts: Guest Post by Jennifer Knust

Here is the final part of Jennifer’s Knust’s quest to trace the history of an intriguing Christian manuscript she came across, suspecting it had come to Duke ultimately as a result of Nazi looting decades earlier.  Now she details how she tried to track it down. The entire episode leads her, then to reflect on the Green Family Collection, a group of manuscripts and antiquities purchased by the owners of the Hobby Lobby and the basis of the “Museum of the Bible” in Washington D.C.   Any visitor to the museum might assume that acquiring such treasures would be relatively simple and involve no issues of legality, morality, and scandal.  On the contrary…. Jennifer Knust’s most popular books are To Cast the First Stone and Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity. ************************************************* Part III: Manuscripts are Commodities The Antiquariat was (and is) a bookstore. Günther Koch was a bookseller. Indeed, in a counter-claim filed against the Rosenthals in the 1950s, he described himself as uniquely qualified for the position he undertook during and after the [...]

Christian Manuscripts and Nazi Loot: Guest Post by Jennifer Knust

This now is the second of Jennifer Knust’s three posts on her current project, tracing the history of a Christian manuscript she came upon from the rare book collection at Duke University.  Her research led her to booksellers in London, Munich, and Amsterdamn, and implicates the Aryanization policies of the Nazis.   Who knew New Testament scholarship could be so interesting?   Find below what she has to say. Jennifer Knust’s most popular books are To Cast the First Stone and Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity. *************************************   Part II: Nazi Loot? My own project began when Aaron Ebert, a doctoral student at Duke University, noticed that the manuscript he was studying was one of three purchased by Duke from the London bookseller Raphael King in the 1950s. Very little information about Mr. King is available, so Aaron reached out to the Ludwig Rosenthal Antiquariaat, a venerable antiquarian bookstore now located in the Netherlands that once owned another of Duke’s manuscripts also sold by King, Greek MS 018. According to an important volume on Byzantine [...]

Tracking Down Stolen Manuscripts: Guest Post by Jennifer Knust

I have asked my friend and colleague Jennifer Knust (Professor of early Christianity at Duke) to write some guest posts for us on the blog. Jenny is the author of Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity, and she has also recently published the definitive study of the famous passage of the “Woman Taken in Adultery” (containing the line “Let the one without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her” – a passage not originally in the New Testament), a long, sophisticated, and learned book (co-authored with Tommy Wasserman), called To Cast the First Stone; and I had suggested she write about that for us.  Maybe she will later. But for now she has decided to post about some very exciting current research she’s doing, as we speak: tracking down the history of a Christian manuscript that was plundered by the Nazis.  Intriguing stuff.  This will take several posts. ***************************************************** Jennifer Wright Knust Duke University “In this kind of world no blueprint instructs us how to house what we [...]

The Writings of Papias: Guest Post by Stephen Carlson

I occasionally get questions about one of the most interesting but least known Christian authors of the early 2nd century, a man named Papias (writing in 120 CE? 140 CE).  Many readers consider him particularly important because he claims to have known and interviewed the companions of disciples of Jesus’ own apostles (it’s a bit confusing: but Jesus had his apostles; after his death they themselves had disciples; Papias knew people who knew these disciples of the apostles); moreover, Papias is the first author to mention a Gospel of Matthew and a Gospel of Mark. Pretty important. Unfortunately, we don’t have his writings – only a few quotations of them, here and there, among the writings of later church fathers.  But these quotations are highly fascinating. There has never been a definitive, full-length study of Papias until now.  (Well, until the near future.)  My friend and former student and Stephen Carlson has been working for years on the Papias fragments.   Stephen did his PhD in New Testament at Duke and is now a Senior Research [...]

The Protestant Obsession with Origins

It was especially in the nineteenth century that scholars of religion, theology, and biblical studies became deeply obsessed with the question of “origins.”   In many ways, the roots for this interest – in these fields in particular – lay in the Protestant Reformation, and it is no accident that the major research on the question was done in predominantly Protestant countries (especially Germany; somewhat in England and, even less, in America) and by Protestant professors in these fields, scholars who had themselves received theological training before themselves giving instruction in universities. Roughly speaking, it was possible to think about “origins” in two very different ways, one we might label “Catholic” and the other “Protestant.”   In the Catholic way of thinking, the “origins” of something was the starting point, from which important developments began to transpire, as religion, theology, and even “the truth” evolved into higher forms over the centuries. This evolutionary model, of course, owed a good deal to other intellectual currents of the day, for example in the understanding of languages: they become more [...]

A Return to the Historical Jesus

One of the most interesting developments within New Testament studies happened in the 1950s.  To set the development in context, I need to remind you that the long “quest” of the historical Jesus – trying to determined what Jesus said and did historically – was evidently put to rest by the work of Wrede and Schweitzer fifty years earlier, and not a whole lot was being done in that field, as scholars *either* thought that our sources were basically reliable and so should be simply be accepted for what they said, *or* realized that our sources were so highly problematic that we couldn’t actually say much about what had happened in Jesus’ life historically. And so scholars turned their attention to other things, first in examining the oral traditions about Jesus through form criticism, and then starting in the 50’s focusing on the distinctive *portrayals* of Jesus in the Gospels using redaction criticism.  (I’m simplifying things here, of course, since there were lots of scholars doing lots of different things at the time). In the [...]

The Gospel Writers as Editors Rather than Authors

Three weeks ago I started to give a response to a question about the Messianic Secret.  At first I thought I could handle the question in a post or two.  As seems to happen a lot on the blog, once I explained all the background that led up to the development of the idea, and then explained it, and then talked about its aftermath – Voila!  We had an entire thread.   All to the good, I suppose. I have now gotten to the point of talking about how in the 1950s, New Testament scholars moved away from focusing on the oral traditions behind the Gospels (the concerns of the “form criticism”) to looking at the theological and literary investments of the Gospels themselves (“redaction criticism”).  Scholars now had a renewed interest in seeing what these particular authors – the anonymous writers of the Gospels – wanted to emphasize, individually and distinctively, about Jesus.  It came to be realized afresh that each writer had his own emphasis, his own story, his own perspective – that Matthew’s [...]

2020-04-03T00:07:13-04:00February 26th, 2019|Canonical Gospels, History of Biblical Scholarship|
Go to Top