Being Trained To Interpret Texts

In some rather surprising and ironic ways, I think my training in a particularly obscure and technical aspect of New Testament studies made me *more* qualified to write books for a general audience than most of my colleagues and peers.   Almost everyone I knew in my graduate program was interested almost exclusively in two areas of academic research: exegesis and New Testament theology.   I was interested in something that most of them did not care about in the least: textual ...

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Who Could Read and Write? A Blast from the Past.

It’s been fun for me to look over posts on the blog from years ago.  Here is one of relevance to some of my recent comments on the book of Revelation, for two reasons.

One involves literacy: who could read and write?  Could John the son of Zebedee?

The other involves “secredaries.”   Since my Revelation posts, a couple of people have asked me if it’s possible that the author used a “secretary” for the book (that is: since John the son of ...

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Modern Views of the Authorship of the Pentateuch

I am now nearly finished talking about the “Documentary Hypothesis” devised by scholars of the Hebrew Bible to account for the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible.  I have already discussed the traditional view developed in the nineteenth century, especially as it was laid out by Julius Wellhausen.   All of this was in response to a question I received about what scholars today have to say about it.   Here is what I say, briefly, about that in ...

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Did Moses Write the Pentateuch? The JEDP Hypothesis.

I have been discussing the sources of the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), sometimes also called the Torah or the Law of Moses.  So far I have explained the kinds of literary problems that led scholars to realize that these books were not the writing of a single author, but represented a combination of earlier written accounts.  The traditional “documentary hypothesis,” as it is called, was most famously formulated by ...

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Who Wrote the Pentateuch? Early Questions of Authorship.

On to something different!  I want to move to a new blog topic for a while.  I’ve been talking about my new book – still being written! – about the Christianization of the empire – for a while, and it’s obviously the topic near and dear to me just now.  But variety is the spice of life.

Several readers have responded to me about my response to the question of the sources behind the Pentateuch – the first five books of ...

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Jesus’ Death; Good Scholars; and Writing the First Book: Readers’ Mailbag May 28, 2016

I have three rather wide ranging questions to deal with in this week’s Readers’ Mailbag: one on the understanding of Christ’s death as a sacrifice (or not); one on whom I like to read among NT scholars; and one on how to publish a scholarly book.

This should be fun!  If you have a question you’d like me to address, simply ask it in any comment on any post (whether it’s relevant to the post or not).

 

QUESTION:

Would you agree with the ...

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Weekly Readers’ Mailbag: February 18, 2016

 

Here is the weekly Readers’ Mailbag, three questions this time – one about my  alleged “support of Islam against Christianity,” one about why we think the NT Gospels were originally written in Greek, and one about what I mean when I talk about the views held by the majority of “critical” scholars (as opposed to what other kind of scholar?)?

Feel free to ask questions you have; some I will not be able to get to (either because I don’t know ...

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Readers’ Mailbag: December 27, 2015

QUESTION:  [Bart has said:]  “Jesus must have been called the messiah during his lifetime, or it makes no sense that he would be called messiah after his death”:  [Comment:] By this line of reasoning, then surely one would conclude that Jesus was considered divine during his lifetime, else it makes no sense he would be considered divine after his death?

 

RESPONSE:  The first line in the question is a quotation of a view I have elaborated on the blog.  The logic, ...

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The Unusual Thesis of The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture

As I started to point out in my previous post, the overarching idea behind my book The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture was that scribes copying their sacred texts in the early centuries of Christianity were not immune from the theological controversies raging in their day, but that they were, in some sense, participants in those disputes.   In pursuing that idea, I had to bring together two fields of academic inquiry that were almost always kept distinct from each other – ...

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An Amusing Anecdote about the State of Textual Criticism

I’d like to sum up my posts so far on the state of New Testament textual criticism – my original field of scholarship – when I entered into the field of student as a graduate student in the early 1980s by telling an anecdote. It has always struck me as rather amusing.  (I am basing all this on memory, and as I’ve just written a book on memory, I am acutely aware of how frail this particular human function is.  ...

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